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Are You An Athlete or a Coach?

I have loved sports all my life. Through the years I have enjoyed the thrill and physical challenge of competing. As I got older, I found myself more on the sideline as a dad and a coach. But, I always enjoyed playing and have a deep competitive side even to this day - just ask my family about our Monopoly or Zilch games.

As I reflect back over my years in ministry, God has taught me a few things, much in the same way I have learned as an athlete or coach. Sometimes that is painful and most often involves sweat and hard work.

How you see yourself as a leader in a small group setting has a lot to do with the direction and outcome of your small group. Do you see yourself as the star player, or as the head coach? Whether you are leading one or two in a more personal time, dozens in a group, or even hundreds from a Bible study setting or from a pulpit - the question is the same; How do you see yourself?

  • As a professional athlete, you have all eyes on you, watching you perform. You entertain. You inspire. The pressure is on you.

  • As a coach, you empower other people to work together as a team. Your role is to equip, nurture, exhort, and train. You release and deploy other people to do the boots-on-the-ground work of disciple making.

This analogy is taken from Jim Putman's book DiscipleShift (great book that I highly recommend, especially for pastors). This comparison brings a compelling challenge as a leader as to how and why we lead. He builds on this thought by saying; "If a church emphasizes the wrong things and then uses the wrong methodologies to reach its goals, the result will not be fruitful, mature disciples."

So, what is your emphasis and what is your method? If you are the athlete, you emphasize your personal knowledge and time in the word. If you see yourself as the coach you emphasize getting others into the word to discover God's truth and grow toward spiritual maturity. Your methodology shifts to a more nurturing and expectant structure by which you equip others to spend time in the word. Your method then provides the outlet for them to share and interact over the truth that God has taught them (not you). By doing this you raise the sense of expectancy within your small group to grow personally as well as to multiply.

I want to win. Maybe that's my competitive side coming on too strong, but I like to think of it more as spiritual maturity. I realize that at my life stage, half time is over. I'm in the last half of my game. I want to be more effective for the cause of Christ now than ever before. I want to finish well. I want to know that I have invested well in the lives of others and have had a role in equipping disciples for Jesus Christ that are in turn, investing in the lives of others.

How are you doing as a Christ follower and a leader? How do you see yourself? Do you feel effective? How are you doing with process of growing people to spiritual maturity and multiplying the ministry of the Kingdom of God within your local Church.

Let's get out there and give it all we've got! Let's play for keeps and "leave it all on the field". (Feel free to throw in any other great motivational sports quotes here...)

Winning together, Dave

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