Coaching Life-Changing Leaders

How to be an effective small group coach.

Everybody needs a coach—whether to help you plant a garden, build a home, improve a golf swing, or lead a small group. The question is: What does coaching look like? How do we inspire, shepherd, and develop leaders of groups so that they grow in wisdom, maturity, and skills?

To help our coaches, we've outlined four key practices for the oversight of leaders.

  • Modeling: Pursue Christ-likeness. Grow in the life of full devotion you're inviting others to lead. Paul said, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). I remember when Ryan, now almost 16, was about four years old. We were walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and I was holding his hand. I let go to pick up a large piece of paper in our path on the otherwise clean sidewalk. I threw it in a trash can and turned to grab Ryan's hand—but he was gone. For a split second, I panicked—it was a busy street with many passersby. I turned around and discovered he was several feet behind me, picking up another piece of trash he had spotted. He threw it in the can and grabbed my hand. It struck me—he watches everything I do!

    We're always modeling, whether we realize it or not. Coaches should pursue the Jesus way of life for their own benefit and growth, but should be aware that leaders are looking to them—at least sometimes—to show the way and to live a life worth emulating. We inspire others when we pursue Christ. It's job one for coaches.
  • Guiding: Shepherd Intentionally. Guides are sometimes holy sages and mystical gurus—but that's not the image we want to portray. Coaching is simply helping people take the next step on the journey. Sometimes it's a journey you've taken personally; other times it requires pulling out the map and saying, "let's head this way together."Â The point is being intentional and conscious that we have opportunities to guide a leader toward growth, service, and connection with Jesus. Coaches help leaders identify and take their next step of spiritual growth. "Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people" Â (2 Timothy 4:2).

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