Eddie Jones is being hailed as the Messiah of English Rugby. 10 matches in charge. 10 wins. Including a Grand Slam, a first whitewash of Australia in Australia and beating South Africa for the first time in 10 years. As a Welshman this has caused me some pain.
I was reading what it was about his leadership and coaching that the players appreciated. There seemed to be three key things:
1. They know that he's on their side. Jones is committed to seeing them improve. He's a workaholic. Getting up in the middle of the night to plan new training sessions. Sending players text messages throughout the day about their targets. Knowing them individually, so that he can give them specific coaching tips. Joining in the banter with the boys.
2. He encourages them privately and publicly. Jones is quick to praise them. During press conferences he speaks about how well he thinks certain individuals have done. He tells them in private how much potential he thinks they have. The players have been made to feel like world beaters and so they are becoming world beaters.
3. He's encouraged them to be discontent with where they are. Winning the last match is not good enough for Jones. He has encouraged the players to set their sights on higher things. Winning the world cup in 2019. Being the best team in the world. Individually and corporately reaching their potential.
I was struck how all three of the attitudes are vital when it comes to following the real Messiah.
1. We know Jesus is for us. Always. He never sleeps or slumbers. He is constantly interceding for us. Constantly working in us by His Spirit. He became one of us. Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. He knows our battles
2. The Bible tells us how important encouragement is. We are to point one another to Jesus and His love for us daily. We are tell one another how thankful we are for the ways God is using us. We are to help others rejoice in the things God has done for them and through them. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
That was my experience over the weekend. The words of encouragement that I received really lifted me to rejoice in God's goodness to me in Christ.
3. The Bible urges us not to be content with where we are. Next Sunday evening we are looking at 1 Thessalonians 4 which starts 4:1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
Paul doesn't want the Thessalonians to get complacent. He wants them to press on and live to please Jesus with even greater passion and commitment. We should never be content with any sin in our lives. However much we might feel that we are better than others. The Bible never allows us to indulge our self-righteousness. Because God knows that He created us in His image, to love as He has loved us. And one day he will make us like that when he takes us to be with Jesus.
But there is a vital difference. In the end Eddie Jones can't win the match. The players on the pitch have to do that. Victory is in their hands.
Whereas Jesus has already won for us. In His death He defeated sin. In His resurrection He smashed death. So that all who follow Him are certain of final victory. We will receive a crown of righteousness, not because we've earned it. But because the true Messiah will give it to us by His grace.