Achieving or Receiving?
by Ryan Krzykowski
A few weeks back I posted about my summer plan to reengage with God — committing to spend focused time with Him in a way I haven’t in recent memory. A tool that I’m using to help with that is a book called “Sacred Breath” by David Muyskens, and a little less than a month into the journey I’ve come across an idea that feels like a game changer. It’s the kind of thing that seems obvious now that I’ve begun thinking about it, so it’s likely not a completely new idea, but one that I’ve never heard put quite this way.
In his book, Muyskens writes a chapter called “Receptivity”, in which he contrasts the idea of living to “achieve” with living to “receive”. He writes,
With achievement as my aim in life, I work for accomplishments. I do it for the sake of my ego needs: esteem, power and security. With receptivity as the way I live, I gratefully receive the gifts God gives me. I use them to the best of my ability. It may well be that accomplishments will result, but that will be because of the grace of God. I will live to receive and participate in all that God gives me.
If I pray for achievement, I will be trying to get God to do what I want. If I pray for receptivity, I will be open to whatever God wants to do with me. I will listen and spend time in communion with the One who gives me life. I will respond in word and deed to what God calls me to do. Like Abraham, I will walk in the presence of God.
We don’t invent life; we don’t create ourselves. We receive and express the life that is given to us.
I see so much of myself in those first two sentences. As a student, athlete, husband, parent and certainly as a coach. For pretty much my entire life, I have lived to achieve and accomplish. When necessary, I worked hard to achieve. Just as often, I looked to get by with the minimum effort required to accomplish whatever goal I set. If the bar was low, why push myself? In a more challenging situation, the end result usually justified whatever means I used to accomplish the goal. Why worry about doing my best or actually learning something if I could coast to an A? Why consider the developmental needs of young people on the field or in a classroom if I could shame them into compliance (and be rewarded and highly regarded for it)?
I badly want to learn more about how to live out the rest of that first paragraph from Muyskens. With receptivity as the way I live, I gratefully receive the gifts God gives me. I use them to the best of my ability. It may well be that accomplishments will result, but that will be because of the grace of God. I will live to receive and participate in all that God gives me.
For coaches, who are often wired and driven to achieve, these sentences speak volumes. Somewhere inside us we know that winning doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction, and yet we are tempted to push back against the notion that we ought to be receivers rather than achievers. Could that be because seeking to receive instead of achieve takes me out of the driver’s seat? That I am no longer ultimately in control? Probably, and then I remember, “We don’t create life; we don’t create ourselves.”
With this receptivity mindset, the accomplishments will still be there. They’ll simply be in their proper place. Our call remains, not to mediocrity but to excellence, to receive and use whatever has been given us to the best of our ability. And for coaches, to train others to do the same.
Let’s Coach With Purpose.