With March Madness upon us, I am not sure that this is the best time to talk about coaching. At this time of the year, the word evokes pictures of nicely dressed men and women yelling, sweating, and throwing tantrums on the sidelines of college basketball games. At the same time, these coaches show that there is a certain passion involved in the art of coaching. They encourage young men and women to stay the course to achieve a goal and that is what coaching is all about.
Those who lead organizations in the 21st century will have to exercise a coaching function. Coaches are people who walk along beside others and help them to attain their full potential. Like the characteristic of empowering, coaching is a highly relational matter. A coach establishes rapport with the client, helps him or her determine an action plan and agenda, and then holds the individual accountable for his or her actions. This is a dynamic and interactive process; along the way, the plan will have to be revised as the individual faces reality (much as a basketball coach in the last few minutes of a close tournament game makes last minute changes in the game plan in an attempt to get a few more points on the scoreboard).
Although I have never been an athlete, I have had a number of coaches. A couple started out as mentors (individuals who could teach me some things that I needed to know) and turned into coaches (persons who helped me to determine a course, pursue it, and make course corrections as necessary).
In an organization or a church, the skill of coaching goes hand in hand with the skill of empowerment. In sports, the coach doesn’t play the game, the athlete does. If we believe in the equipping ministry of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12), we will see the ministry of coaching believers as essential to the building up of the body of Christ.
Although there will be some in the 21st century church who want to be told what to do, there are many more who want to discover the task that God has called them to and simply want someone to walk alongside them as they attempt to do it.