The ministry we have with coaches cannot be overemphasized in its importance. To influence the influential, to coach coaches, to nurture a multigenerational approach to our ministries is very wise and most effective. The Apostle Paul wrote of this dynamic, in his second letter to Timothy, at chapter 2 and verse 2. There we read, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
When we invest our lives in coaches, we not only have an impact upon their individual lives, but also their families, their teams, their colleagues, and even their communities. Below are some simple, but effective ways of making connections with coaches that can be transformational to their hearts. I hope you will try some or all of these.
Attend their events. Go to their clinics. Attend their training events. Invest your time in their practices, games, matches, tournaments, etc… Be where the coaches are, rather than expecting them to show up at your events.
Live in their world. Take the time to learn, to understand, and to embrace the culture of sport where they live. Some parts of it may be uncomfortable for you. It may initially feel like a poor fit. You must find ways to live in and to enjoy the world of sport to ever have influence in it. To simply import Church culture into the sports world is wholly inadequate.
Help them achieve. If you care about every facet of their lives, including their professional development, you will begin to be profoundly influential. For you to suggest, purchase, or loan books to a coach is greatly appreciated. For you to suggest clinics, networks, websites, mentors, or events that can further the careers of the coaches you serve is among the strongest ways to build trust with them.
Help them clarify values. This is a little trickier, but it’s worth it. When you ask good questions about why they coach the way they do. To ask coaches about what is most important to them, to ask what they hope to achieve in the lives of their players, to ask about their values related to their coaching staff, is a simple way to assist them in clarifying values for their programs. Coach Joe Ehrmann’s questions from Season of Life and InSideOut Coaching are most helpful: “Why do you coach? Why do you coach the way that you coach? How does it feel to be coached by me?” Probing questions all, they help clarify values and set a coach’s direction for his or her program.
Help them gain perspective. Coaching a sport, at any level, can be terribly consuming of the coach. The higher the level, the higher the salary, the higher the profile of the coach, the more pressure is applied to the coach’s heart and the more perspective is lost. Compulsive or obsessive behaviors, broken family relationships, shouting tirades, breaches of ethical and legal boundaries, and more are right at the doorstep of coaches as they lose perspective in pursuit of power and success. We can be the ones who help them gain perspective. When we ask questions about individual players, about their families, about their health, about their marriages, and other “off the field of competition” matters, we help them gain perspective. When we discuss process more than results, we help them gain perspective.
We may be uniquely qualified to help coaches in these specific areas, to nurture their hearts, to affirm their calling, to encourage their progress, and to enhance their influence with the people they coach and with whom they labor. Let’s love them extravagantly and serve them selflessly.