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Strength and GENTLENESS | Weekly Devo

A coach asked the dad of a player on his team, “When do you and your daughter go outside and just shoot baskets for fun?”

The dad’s daughter is an elite basketball player. She is one of the best athletes in her state. She works hard and plays harder. She is tough, she has grit, and she is a great teammate.

She is a coach’s dream.

But the coach’s question made the dad pause and think. Everything with her and her family is based on hard work, grit, and having a growth mindset, and the success they have experienced shows that this formula has worked.

But this was the coach’s gentle reminder to the dad to appropriately monitor the balance between achievement and social and emotional health and well-being.

This was the coach’s gentle reminder to keep grinding and working hard because those are requirements of greatness, but also to have fun and enjoy the process because if you aren’t enjoying it, why are you doing it?

Gentleness is a fruit of the spirit. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matthew 7:15-17).

What are the fruits that we should be producing?

In Galatians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we think of what type of athletes and leaders we want to be, this list is a great place to start. If it is not on this list, you probably don’t need to pursue it.

In the old King James Version of the Bible, gentleness was translated as “meekness,” which can be seen as weak. But gentleness is more than that being weak and giving in.

Gentleness is showing care and respect for others in the way that you think, act, and speak. It is being kind, considerate, and extending mercy and grace, even when you are holding people accountable. Gentleness is being firm and holding people accountable, but in a meaningful way through which they will actually listen and respond instead of shut down, dismiss, and fight back.

It is easy to see gentleness as a weakness or as passivity, but true gentleness requires great strength, self-awareness, and self-control. You can be demanding, critical, and still teach, train, and redirect with gentleness.

Jesus was an example of a strong, firm leader who also led with gentleness.

Cast The First Stone

One day while Jesus was teaching, the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught doing something she shouldn’t have been doing.

The Pharisees wanted to stone the women, but Jesus stopped them. He said to them, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7).”

We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. We are all guilty of sinning, but we still have to hold ourselves and others accountable. We can do that with gentleness when we aren’t too harsh or mean about it, but instead lead with empathy, understanding, and compassion. When you have to correct someone or hold someone accountable, set an example by the way you do it. Respond with the right combination of gentleness and strength. Respond knowing that you make mistakes too and in a way that inspires and motivates your teammates to keep learning, growing, and going.

The Lord is My Shepherd

You can lead others with gentleness because Jesus led with gentleness. Psalm 23 is a great chapter that shows how God is gentle with us as He protects us:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Because we know how God leads us with gentleness, we can know how to lead others with gentleness. In this verse, David wrote that he walks in the shadows of death and sits with his enemies, and because the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing. David lies in green pastures beside quiet waters, he was refreshed, he is guided along the right paths, he fears no evil, he is anointed, and his cup overflows.

David was better because He had God in his life. We don't have the knowledge and power of God, but we can work hard to make the lives of those around us better, even while well lead, direct, and correct them if we do so with strength and gentleness.

A Gentle Answer

I struggle when I have to repeat myself. I also struggle when someone doesn’t know or do something that I think they should know or do. I have to continue to work on how I act and respond in those situations. Proverbs 15:1-2 tells how gentle words can bring us peace. It says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

Great leaders know their personnel. We call that KYP - Know Your Personnel. This means that they know what each individual on their team can and can't do, and they respond accordingly. Some people can catch every pass, receive each first touch softly and firmly, and can pass you open, but many people bobble or drop tough passes, have a bad first touch, and don't play with their head up enough to find you when you are open. Great leaders know this about their teammates, and because they do, they know how to respond accordingly with the right combination of gentleness and strength.

The best leaders know when to be firm and when to be gentle. The best leaders know that some people need that tough love, and for some, harsh words turn up anger while gentle words turn it down.

Sometimes leading others requires some tough love, but often, it requires some gentleness so that we are all working with each other and not for or against each other.

Sometimes you need to go super-hard in your drills, and sometimes you just want to go outside and shoot because playing sports is one of the funniest things to do in the world.


1 - Think about a time when you messed up, but your coach, teacher, parent, or leader was gentle in the way they correct or redirected you. Was that a meaningful or valuable way of leading?

2 - Think about a time when you made a mistake, and instead of reacting with grace and gentleness. Your coach, teacher, parent, or leader reacted aggressively and without grace or gentleness. How did that make you feel and cause you to react? Did it make you a better athlete and person?

3 - When you lead, do you lead with more gentleness, more strength, or the right combination of the two? If you don't have the right combination, which do you need more of?

4 - When you are talking to yourself, do you speak with gentle words of encouragement and positive affirmations, or do you speak with fear, doubt, and aggressive pessimism. What Bible verses or inspirational words or quotes can you use to bring some gentle accountability to your life?

5 Bible Verses About Gentleness

1 - But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. - James 3:17

2 - I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. With all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love. - Ephesians 4:1-3

3 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. - Proverbs 15:1

4 - Remind them to be in subjection to rulers and to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all humility toward all men. - Titus 3:1-2

5 - In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. - 1 Peter 3:15-16

For a Google doc version of this devo, click here: Week 10 | Gentleness

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