Who were the big influences on your life in your formative years? My answer: 2 junior high school football coaches. These men volunteered about 4 hours per week for practice (yes in Jr High we only practiced 2 nights per week), 4+ hours on the weekend for the games, and many other hours feeding us, doing extra work outs, and watching college football games. We fielded very strong teams twice playing in the CYO city championship games (for our school size). Several of us went on to participate in athletics at the collegiate level. These coaches taught us football, modeled hard work & caring for people, and even assigned some of leadership positions. The process of them intentionally developing us as young leaders became apparent to me years later as I reflected on seasons of my life.
Last week, I finished a lunch appointment, and noticed that my friend was noticeably more fit than I’d seen him in a few years. I asked if he had been working out, and he told me that he hired a personal trainer. This trainer is a fitness coach – assisting my friend with exercise, nutrition, & rest. The results have been notable after only 3 months. The thought crossed my mind – how noticeable would the results be if we had a coach in our work? Or another perspective, what would the impact be if we enlisted a coach for our spiritual lives?
Randy Pope, Senior Pastor of Perimeter Church in Atlanta & author, wrote about a moment of discovery he experienced in meeting with Bob Blanchard, business leader and author. Blanchard explained to Pope the impact of situational leadership; that is, when one not only teaches content, but intentionally models the teaching, supports the lesson, and finally delegates the responsibility. This process of telling, modeling, supporting, and delegating is a full-orbed training. According to Blanchard, one should never move a student from directing to delegating. Doing so produces disillusioned learners. These are folks who have been told, have not seen “it” in action, have not been supported and resourced, and then are tasked to get a job done. Unfortunately, a lot of personal development is handled in this manner. Whether it’s training at work, in a community volunteer role, or in our spiritual development, coaching and support are often neglected. After all, it is less demanding to tell someone what to do and then give them an assignment, than it is to take the time to model the lesson, then fully support & resource the individual before assigning the task.
Pope discovered the lack of coaching and support in his church, and I agree that this is a fair assessment of spiritual development in many churches and communities. It is likely that you have experienced this in your career. A good coach asks good questions. A good question causes reflection, and helps one to discover something beyond the apparent and obvious. Likewise, a good coach helps one complete the mundane tasks or responsibilities that may have been overlooked or neglected. When trying to lose weight, most everyone knows burning more calories than you eat is the “bottom line.” Despite this fact, it is difficult to accomplish, and a coach can help one find success with this. In all that we endeavor to accomplish, a good coach may be the key to helping us to perform at the level we desire. If you have struggled with being a “disillusioned learner,” contact your city’s YBL staff to explore help with coaching.