Ted Lasso, the hit TV series about a British football (soccer) team led by Coach Ted Lasso, is a feel-good show that constantly reminds me what it looks like when we’re truly following Jesus. Because, “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him” (Mark 2:15 NIV).
It’s some high quality content that even Mom will appreciate this Mother’s Day.
If you’re skeptical, here are several life lessons from Ted Lasso, streaming on Apple TV.
Relationship Over Appearances
“‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I like that.”
In the Gospels, the only folks Jesus really railed against were the priests and religious leaders, who “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel,” who “clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence,” who “are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23 NIV).
The religious leaders were obsessed with what appeared to be pure and good on the outside while neglecting mercy, justice, and righteousness.
It’s what happens to us when we judge anyone by their appearances, expecting people to have their lives together before we’ll extend the love of Christ to them. Because we dismiss them outright, we miss the image of God they carry within them.
That’s one of the reasons I love Ted Lasso. The show is heavily British, with foul language, celebrity antics, sexual promiscuity, and daily boxes of shortbread biscuits.
But so is the Bible (except for the British part, because Britain wasn’t around yet). The Bible is filled with messy people who have messy relationships and make huge mistakes and break every commandment, and yet God loves them. God does not give up on them. God rescues them. God values relationship over performance, and so does Ted Lasso.
Everyone Is Made in the Image of God
Ted doesn’t just see his team, he sees his team. Below all of their brash behavior, profanity, insecurity, arrogance, and otherwise rough exterior, Ted seems to know and to trust there’s something more there, something else that just needs to be called out of them, identified, and celebrated.
When we view each person in our lives as made in the image of God, we begin to see them through God’s eyes. They are complex, conflicted, imperfect, and yet inherently good, because they are made in the image of God. In fact, God called them “very good.”
That inherent goodness is what God sees, what God wants to draw out and develop and make whole throughout our lives until we are made into the very image and likeness of Christ. It’s what Jesus calls us to do when he says to love our neighbor as ourselves.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
You Can Find Friends in Unexpected Places
“The truth will set you free… but first, it will piss you off.”
Friendship—particularly unexpected ones—spring up all over this show, from former enemies to coaching buddies to folks who’d normally never interact, finally being seen and loved for who they are. Just like the mixed bag of disciples Jesus gathers to him, made up of tax collectors and zealots and fishermen, they don’t always agree with each other, but they correct each other and continue walking with each other, regardless of their life choices.
An open heart and an open mind leads to deeper relationships and changed minds.
No Battle Is Worth Fighting Alone
“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.”
Throughout the seasons, viewers watch flat characters deepen as more and more of their inner demons show up. Between the Diamond Dogs, the team therapist, the drinks with teammates, and biscuits with the boss, the show demonstrates the importance of giving and receiving hard truths from good friends.
Like Nathan and David, friends hold each other accountable and walk together through tough times.
Even When We’re Losing, We’re Winning When We Love Each Other
“If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”
From the start of the show through the current season, the team chemistry evolves substantially, and the root of that change is love and self-sacrifice. Even losing, the team seems to win—because at their core is love and respect for their teammates.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
Embrace the Season of Life You’re In
“I think things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.”
Career and life transitions come with both grief and joy, and Ted Lasso’s characters, from Roy Kent to Keelie Jones to Ted himself, demonstrate all of those real human emotions, navigating each season of life under the sun.
How do you find satisfaction in the season you find yourself in? The Teacher in Ecclesiastes encourages us to remember that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV).
Be a Paul to the Timothys
“A good mentor hopes you move on. A great mentor knows you will.”
Jesus’ great commission to his disciples is to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). The Apostle Paul and Timothy are one of the earliest post-Jesus examples of what a discipleship relationship looks like.
As tempting as it may be to let the younger generation figure it out themselves, the gospel-centered value is different. We’re called to pour into one another, identify potential leaders and teach, correct, and walk alongside our younger brothers and sisters. This shows up in surprising and delightful ways throughout Ted Lasso.
No One Is Beyond Redemption
“I finally think that I’m becoming the best version of myself.”
The gospels are filled with examples of Jesus reaching out to and healing people who the world had written off as impure, broken, irredeemable, heathens, scoundrels, whores, drunkards, and government employees. Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NIV).
Characters that are easy to dislike and even revile at the beginning of the show prove throughout that people can change, that individuals are worth fighting for, and that there’s always more to the story.
Sometimes You Have to Choose Between the Good and the Good
“It is our choices, gentleman, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
…and live with your choices. The freedom we have in Jesus is such that he promises us abundant life, says he’ll grant us the desires of our hearts, promises that if we knock, the door will be opened, seek and you’ll find, ask and it’ll be given to you.
As often as I wish the choices I’ve been given in life were always clearly good and clearly bad, frequently, what we’re given is to choose between the good and the good, or perhaps the good and the slightly better.
Regardless of which choice we make, the plan and the calling is to walk with Jesus, living out the gospel call as authentically and genuinely as we’re able.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).
Forgiveness Is Fighting Forward
“Forgive them. My son, listen to me. Don’t fight back. Fight forward.”
It’s possibly my favorite moment in the whole show. That about sums it up for me!
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV).
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4 NIV).