Feb 20 2013

Grand Rapids District: Coaching

Original post at http://www.grdistrictumc.org/2013/02/coaching/

My foster sons are in great shape.  All three of them lift weights, run, play soccer and football.  They eat the right foods for the most part and they are disciplined in their workouts.  So when I recently went on my annual diet to lose the twenty pounds I gain throughout the year, I asked my youngest, Isaac to help me do some activities to supplement the diet and to help me get in better shape.  So he gave me some things to do.  He suggested starting with five push-ups (don’t laugh I’m up to eight!).  Isaac isn’t harsh with me, he doesn’t chastise me or berate me because I can’t do what he can do, he understands my level isn’t his.  But he does ask me at some point every day, “Have you done your push-ups?”

Isaac is my coach.  That word coach is a word I’ve heard and read a lot over the past few years.  It used to be that the only people who had coaches were people on sports teams, but now it seems like everyone has a coach.  I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first, it seemed to me that having a coach was the latest fad.  But now as I notice some of the things people are doing and the ways that coaching helps folks develop skills, I’m celebrating the results and coming on board. 

Now I’m not sure that everyone needs to pay the big bucks to avail themselves of a professional coach (though again I do see the benefits for some).  But I think all of us need people who are knowledgeable in areas where we are weak, people who can help us to develop our potential, folks who can make helpful suggestions, hold us accountable to what we say we want to accomplish, and celebrate with us as we grow and get better.  Ultimately that’s what coaches do. 

One of the things I’ve noticed as a clergy person is that we pastors are often the worst at asking for help.  Theologically we know that the church is to be the Body of Christ and that all of us have various gifts and talents and abilities that we use on behalf of the ministry of the Church.  But somehow pastors have bought into the notion that we are supposed to be able to do everything innately well.

Another problem I’ve seen, along these same lines are pastors who are very willing to simply work off their current skill set.  They have abilities and some gifts and they are quite satisfied using these gifts and knowledge base in every circumstance without feeling any compunction to grow or get better either at what they do well or what they don’t do so well. 

My wife is a retired teacher and she’s shared with me stories of teachers who have laminated lesson plans.  They simply do the same thing year after year.  They’re not growing or changing or developing new skills.  They have laminated lesson plans and that’s what they use to do their jobs. 

Friends, all of us have weaknesses and strengths.  That’s a given.  But we all can get stronger in our strengths and build up some of our weaknesses.  But the reality is that some of us have laminated our lesson plans, (or maybe our sermons!).  And too often we deal with our weaknesses by hoping that others won’t notice!

Through a desire to grow and become stronger, I have decided I need a Spiritual Director to help me in those areas of my Spiritual life where I feel I’m lacking.  I’m excited in anticipation of the ways Sister Diane’s guidance will lead me towards new depth and growth. 

Heaven knows I have needed the help of lots of “coaches” to enable me even begin to acclimate to this new ministry as Superintendent. 

So let me invite you to consider, who you might invite into your life to lead you towards a goal?  Who might you ask, or hire, to help you get better at what you do for the Kingdom of God and for the people you serve?  Who might you ask to help teach you what you don’t know or can’t do well? 

I would say more, but I have to go do my push-ups!


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