Jesus is pretty clear in John 13:34 that we are to model our love towards others after Him. What's astonishing about this is Jesus does not love us based on our performance. He does not have a secret system that measures how much He will love us based on our output.
Our value to Him is not attached to what we do for Him! How freeing is that?
But here's the challenge: we are called to love others the same way.
The next habit of a servant coach is to let your athletes know their value is not dependent on their performance.
Just like your value before God is not determined by the win and losses, your athletes need to understand that their value to you is not dependent on that either. This can be tricky. Obviously, at some level, their value in regards to the amount of playing time they get or the amount of attention they receive is dependent on their ability and willingness to get better.
But they need to understand that their value to the team and their value as an individual are two separate categories.
And they need to hear that from you, Coach!
This starts when you are recruiting your athletes and ends when they have played their last game. What they need to hear from you, consistently, is some variation of this: “I am in your corner. I am for you. As your coach, I want you to develop athletically and as an individual. I care about who you are and who you are becoming. When I give corrective feedback or seem upset, hear what I am saying against the backdrop of knowing that I always want what is best for you.”
Habit Forming Challenge: For this to sink in, it really needs to be engrained in the culture you create as a coach. Maybe it's included at the beginning of every practice. Maybe it's at the end. You could be intentional about this before, during, and after games. The point is, it needs to be consistent. What is the "it" I am referring to? Verbal affirmation, from you, that you love them, value them, and care about them—regardless of how they perform. Find a way to communicate those truths within your own unique style of communicating to your team on a regular basis!