You made it to top-leader status!
Finally! You worked your way up to top-level leadership. This is what you’ve worked for and always wanted, right? How does it feel to be at the top of the org chart? In many ways, if you’re geared for high level leadership, it is great!
As a coach, I have conversations with top leaders in their organizations or churches. If you are a top leader, you know one other common feeling is loneliness.
Lonely for two reasons.
1. On your way up, you were a leader among peers. You likely were a good team player and led within the rank and file. Many other people shared a similar perspective on the organization. You had access to collaborators and sounding boards. And you didn’t have to make the tough calls.
But now you are the church planter. Or the pastor. Or the president. Who is your peer? Nobody. Who has to set the direction and make tough calls? You. Just you.
2. No way to practice top leadership. The skills developed within an organization are different than the skills necessary for guiding leadership. You just don’t know exactly what you need to know until you need to know.
Someone in your corner
Like a boxer in a match, a gospel coach helps pastors, leaders and church planters develop skills for top leadership while you are a top leader during the fight. The relationship is confidential, so a top leader can honestly confess weakness and struggle to someone outside of the supervisory structure in the organization.
Don’t be foolish and proud. If you are planting a church, starting a revitalization work in an existing church or tackling a new job in a not-for-profit, don’t try to lead without a coach. Everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs the gospel.
Before it became a meme and part of the urban dictionary, the phrase, “large and in charge” was a compliment for a leader. Generally it still is when used in books and pop culture. By wiktionary’s account, it means a leader who is ‘dominating or controlling a situation with confidence and aplomb’. Are you a large and in charge leader?
If you are, large and in charge leaders must form and work with a team to reach max potential. Gospel coaching helps leaders like you overcome three challenges.
1. Leaders like you think team members are like them. I’ve made this mistake. Just because you are committed and focused doesn’t automatically transfer to team players. Your team players have different drives, capacities, priorities, gifts and personalities. Leader, how well do you know yourself and your team?
I was coaching one strong key leader and it was clear that he expected everyone to have the same level of intensity and clarity he did. Even though he was a pastor, he didn’t want to be bothered with people who weren’t on the same page. This can lead to frustration on everyone’s part. Gospel coaching has transformed him as we worked through his motives and idolatry.
2. Leaders like you assume that telling someone how = delegating. Not so. Delegating has at least two more steps between giving directions and have a responsibility delegated well. Many times in ministry, leaders skip two vital steps. You must coach and encourage your team players.
Consider how you were trained. If you went to school formally, you will tend to make everything a class and assume that knowledge equals ability. If you want to train more disciples and leaders, you have to learn a new skill, which takes practice and repetition and encouragement from an experienced coach.
3. Leaders like you don’t know what to look for in team players. It takes a certain amount of wisdom and assessment to discern who should be on a ministry team. Patrick Lencioni says an ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. All three are important.
If you are a leader and you want to evangelize and disciple more people, you need a gospel coach who is going to work through how to recruit, train and lead a team.
My job as Coaching Catalyst at CMM gives me the chance to work closely with a lot of amazing leaders. In one case, it’s a place few people in the US have visited in the last 50-60 years.
Just south of Florida, there is a movement of the gospel where thousands are coming to faith and where there’s a hunger for leadership training and gospel coaching among pastors and disciples young and old.
Four years ago, I had the privilege of offering the first Gospel Coach training there to a group of 20 young Christians in a city on the island. I was so nervous. My ability to speak seemed like a barrier. I had no idea how it would be received. Then, to top it off, due to technical limits, CMM’s normal method for practicums (video conferencing) was impossible. So the groups agreed to practice on their own. I was skeptical.
When I came back six months later, I was surprised to hear the results. More than half of these volunteer leaders in this new church met every 3-4 weeks to practice Gospel coaching together. One man hitchhiked from an hour away to meet with his group. They said things like,
- I knew a lot before from previous classes, but Gospel Coaching brought all the things I’ve learned all together.
- This is a brand new way to approach discipleship.
- Gospel coaching has changed our marriage.
- I’ve never shared some of the things that I’ve shared with anyone before. And Iam still loved.
- This is changing the culture of our leadership.
By intentionally gathering and practicing the skill of coaching the gospel, this group of young Christians learned to help each other apply the biblical doctrines of grace in each other’s lives. Profoundly.