Why You Need a Coach

A few years ago my job title at Final Command Ministries was changed. It actually happened while I was out of the country and I had no input on the shift. To be perfectly transparent I was a little miffed.

Regretfully my upbringing did not prepare me well for that kind of situation. I earned my strokes as a people pleaser for decades. This was surely a contributor to me staying in school for so many years. Read the assigned material, participate in group discussions, study hard for tests and then write papers–the path to academic success and educational strokes.

But most formal education does not really reward disagreeing. Yes, I know it should, but it rarely does.

My former job title was Director of Training and Strategic Access. It was long and I helped craft it. The first half fit a lot of what Western Christians get–the need for training. But the second half was a bit mysterious and if someone asked me about it, their curiosity gave me permission to peel back the onion layers at least a little.

But who needs a coach?

Sure, we all want our children to have the benefit of a good coach when they participate in sports. Ideally, she/he will have played the sport in high school or college and have a good ability to model and drill the team toward greater cohesion and improved abilities.

I had coached basketball and baseball for my son, since I had lettered in both at my small high school. Later I coached my daughter’s soccer team even though I really had no personal experience to draw on (thankfully a good coach of my son’s soccer team suggested the strategy is much like basketball).

Yes, we all want our kids to have good coaches. But what adult wants to admit they need a coach?

Global Coach, that’s my job title. It was picked because that is really what I try to do, regardless of where I am. Even when I hold training events I am really sifting through the group looking for the few who sense they will need a coach.

It takes a special measure and variety of humility to acknowledge the need for a coach. There is a vulnerability needed that most adults prefer to avoid by acting out our best two-year-old selves–“I do it myself!” Then there is the challenge of knowing whether or not a particular candidate is the right coach for me. Maybe I sense I need one, but I will feel foolish if I pay him lots of money, invest time and energy and still don’t succeed.

Global Coach sounds grander. But who is going to believe that? If I get these disciple making principles so well, then where is the proof? Where are the people who’ve taken my coaching and their fruit is evident? Those are the unspoken questions I always anticipate.

But how do you answer those questions with integrity and not “blow your own horn?” How do you tell the ways God has used you without taking credit for works he accomplished?

Why do you need a coach? That’s a great question. You don’t need one to start lots of first generation Discovery Groups–a half-decent trainer can get you started doing that in about two hours if you will recruit a group with whom to experience it.

But you will need a coach if your goal is generations of groups starting groups where some of them become churches planting churches.


  1. John, Excellent article my friend. I think perhaps that’s where DMM falls short. As you say, you can teach (or train) the details quickly. Just in the same way you can ‘teach’ someone to shoot a basketball. But it doesn’t mean they know how to play the game of basketball. I think we at WATS have experienced this. Students do get excited about DMM – the ‘details of how “to shoot” ‘, but they don’t have the commitment of a coach , or the commitment to be coached to make them true Disciple- Making Disciple – Makers. Just some thoughts. Mark Leavell


    1. Mark, thanks. Actually, I think this is where DMM gets it right (at least some of the time). We recognize that it is far easier to spend all our time training. Lots of groups train throughout Africa, for example. I have a friend who trains Conservation Agricultural practices. He says many will come to his first level exposure training. But he ends it with a test. He has them hold out their two cupped hands and pours green cover manure crop seeds into their hands. He tells them to sow those seeds and then harvest them and he will come back to do the next training. He only goes where someone has multiplied those seeds by planting and reaping.

      We need similar tests to find out who will receive coaching. The proof is not their initial excitement. The proof is their praying and fasting, looking for Persons of Peace and becoming confident enough in the Discovery process that they will try to get those Persons of Peace to start Discovery Groups with their social network. What we are looking for to coach are Multipliers. Who are the Multipliers? Who are the people who will push through failures to experience success? Many talk about “failing forward” and other slogans like “failure is the best teacher,” but our actions reveal we dread the risk of failure too much to learn new ways. Fail several times and then reach out to a coach. If he/she can offer you a better way, you will be much less likely to argue against it. I pray your work at the school continues to go well!


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