Many years ago while living near Charlotte, a group of Corporate Trainers/Coaches approached me to come and sit in on their training sessions, and consider whether or not I wanted to be a part of their company as a speaker/trainer. I’d met several of the owners through a church that I had spoken at often. The Corporate training business was full steam in the early 90’s, but the concept of “coaches” was new, but to me it was just a rejuvenation of old terms and processes.
It was an interesting week to say the least, and I walked out of the experience with two perspectives. One, coaching has a place. Two, I’m not sure where that place is, but I knew my place wasn’t involved with it then or there. I have much more I could write and may well do so later, if anyone wants to read it, and I may even if no one does. We’ll see.
Fast forward almost 20 years later, the term ‘life coaches’ is thrown around much. It is the ‘in’ fad now to have a life coach or even to be a life coach. One article I read (hit me up for the link is you’d like to read it) was funny due to the fact that one life coach the article mentions of had gotten into coaching due to the fact they couldn’t get work as an actor. Stories like that make you pause and think, and who really needs coaching.
In church culture now, the coaching atmosphere is coming on strong. It does bother me how the church seems to let the business community influence our training and discipling methods more than vice versa. I’ve had people tell me, “I’m going to this specific church, because the Pastor is a great life coach, and he wants everyone to be a life coach.”
I’d rather be like Irwin M. (Fletch) Fletcher – it’s a Chevy Chase movie – where when asked what he did for a living, he replied, “I’m a shepherd.”
I do believe that the concept of a coach that teaches and instructs has a strong cross over in principle to a shepherd, but in today’s world I’m not sure if the definitions and concepts are anywhere close, nor conveyed to those wanting coaching.
When I close my eyes and see I coach, I see someone on the sidelines cheering and rooting of course, but having an ultimate goal set forth that they want that player to achieve.
When I still my heart and see a shepherd, I see a servant who is in the field with those sheep leading them to the places of growth and nourishment that they need, and often times they do not know what they need. Here in lies a great paradox of Pastoring.
I love coaches, and always will, but when asked what the church needs and is instructed to have, I’m reminded of 1 Peter 5:1-5. It isn’t a coach, Peter encourages; its shepherds.
Hopefully we take our aim in the Body of Christ to be shepherds as in the Twenty-third Psalm. Jesus is the Great Shepherd.Here is something fun: do a Google Image search of “shepherd” you will see pictures of shepherds with images that portray Jesus in abundance. Google Image search “coach” and you see pictures of handbags, buses, and sports.
Jesus said a shepherd lays his life down for the sheep; the connotation of coach doesn’t carry that level of engagement. To desire to be like Jesus is to be a shepherd… not a coach.