The final method of discipleship is coaching. So far we’ve looked at modeling, mentoring, and instructing. All three of these types of discipleship can be used with the intention of one day establishing a coaching relationship or occasionally the coaching relationship can be established without prior discipleship.
Like mentoring, coaching requires a high degree of trust and intimacy. Modeling and instructing can be done impersonally but coaching especially requires a personal relationship.
A coaching relationship cannot just start from the ground and work its way up, it must be built upon prior discipleship. This may not have been done by you but by another person. In regards to the church, someone who is being coached will already be well grounded in the Bible due to the instruction and/or mentoring of a mature believer.
In a coaching relationship, the coach sends a person out to act on the training they’ve already received. When they return, they report what has happened. The coach may share encouragement, correction, further instruction, or other things that will help the person the next time they go out.
Jesus worked as a coach when he sent out the 70 (or 72) in Luke 10. They returned reporting that even the demons submit to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach them about the authority God has given them by His name.
What other examples of coaching can you think of?
In sports, if a team is performing poorly, it is often the coach who takes the blame. Perhaps this is an unfair assessment, but it emphasizes the importance of good coaching. While anyone can and should be a model for others, not everyone can be an effective coach.
A coach has to be willing to let his disciple fail at times so that they will learn and not repeat the same mistake. A person can have a great instructor but once it comes time to apply what has been learned even great instruction may not prepare a person for application in the real world.
For example, a great instruction can tell us all about turning the other cheek, being humble, and not getting angry. However, when confronted by a mean, aggressive person who becomes angry for no good reason, it is a lot more difficult to put into practice. Even a person who has been well instructed may fail. A coach would use this as a learning opportunity. Instead of repeating instruction, they would ask the person how they should handle the situation if it occurred again. They can share ideas on how to deal with the problem and what they would do in the same situation.
A coach is less of a teacher and more of a facilitator. A good coach will try to cause the disciple to figure things out on their own and will use “teachable moments” whenever they arise. A teachable moment can be anything that is unplanned but arises out of circumstances and a lesson may be taught from it. Jesus had dozens of teachable moments throughout his ministry.
Name some teachable moments in Jesus’ ministry.