Have you ever thought about how much of a gamble that insurance is? Take health insurance for example: when you buy a health insurance policy, you are betting that you are going to get sick and need that insurance. The insurance company, on the other hand, is gambling you won’t. Interestingly, both parties are hoping the insurance company wins the bet.
When we make financial investments, we are hoping to earn interest in our money. At the time of this writing (May 2022), financial investments in the stock market are like trying to win at poker while holding a nothing hand, but we keep investing hoping to have a winning hand soon.
Another investment that might be a gamble is coaching. A simplified definition of coaching might be: a person with more experience or expertise helps another person achieve success in a particular field of endeavor. Sometimes coaching involves teaching. There are times it involves giving advice and still other times it involves helping the “coachee” or client discover the answers for himself or herself. But please don’t miss the fact that coaching can be an investment that often pays dividends, but it can also be a real risk.
The Greek word for coach (προπονώ) does not appear in the New Testament, so it is possible the Apostle Paul never used it. However, he certainly understood the concept of investing in others:
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also2 Timothy 2:2, ESV
If you choose to be a coach for another person, you can expect your investment to pay some dividends:
Your relationship with the other person will deepen
Spending quality time with and helping another person will draw the two of you closer together. How could it not? Generally speaking, people appreciate those who have helped them along the way.
You will grow in your knowledge and expertise
There are going to be times when your client/friend faces a problem or asks a question you have no experience with and you are forced to dig deeper to help her or him find solutions. Voila! Personal growth.
You are going to invest in the next generation
Coaching will often involve younger men and women who are just starting out. I like the word seasoned versus the word old. As a seasoned minister, it has been my privilege to come alongside younger men just beginning their ministry. It is my hope that by sharing the things I’ve learned (mostly from my mistakes), they have learned some lessons that will help them when they face challenging times themselves.
What are the risks involved in coaching?
Remember we said coaching is an investment and most investments involve some level of risk. At least one risk comes to mind today:
The person you have invested in will disappoint you.
Not all of our investments in others will be major investments. A student might stop by your office and ask for advice about his or her class choices. In five minutes you will have helped them make a good decision for their future. That’s a relatively minor investment of time and energy. Other times you will spend hours and hours with your protege over a period of weeks or months only to have them go against everything you’ve talked about. Sadly, the best you can do is watch them crash and burn. Worse yet, you invest in another person only to have them turn against you. You feel like you’ve been stabbed in the back. Jesus knew something about that feeling.
Is it possible to avoid that kind of disappointment? Not completely. There are going to be times that you have to tell yourself, “I tried my best” and you move on maybe a little sadder, hopefully, a little wiser.
There is one thing you can do at the beginning of the coaching relationship to avoid some level of disappointment: choose wisely. Be careful with who you make major investments. Remember the Apostle Paul’s admonition to Pastor Timothy: “…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men…” (emphasis mine). You can make minor investments in almost anyone’s life, but if you are contemplating making a major investment in someone, you must have some degree of confidence that the other person has a good chance of using your investment wisely.
- • Does the protege want to make the changes necessary to grow?
- Is he or she willing to commit to the process?
- • Are they humble and teachable? The guy who thinks he’s the smartest man in the room can’t learn much from others.
The last twelve years of my ministry, before I retired, were spent working for two ministries where I had the opportunity to come alongside ministers to give them support and encouragement. One of those pastors was a young man right out of seminary. He was serving his first church. To say it was a rocky ministry would be an understatement. I got to listen to his struggles, share my experiences, and pray with him during those difficult years. Later, I was able to visit him in a new ministry setting. He took me on a tour of the facility and shared his vision for the future. Along the way, he introduced me to his staff. When he introduced me to his administrative assistant, he said, “This is Rik Danielsen. He always gets through.”
I have a dear friend for life who believes my ministry of support and encouragement helped him. Is coaching worth it? It was to him and it is to me.
(Dr. Rik Danielsen is a retired minister who has authored several books, two of which are available on Amazon and Warner House Press, Never Forget Eternity and You Picked the Wrong Stagecoach)