Monthly Archives: November 2015

Jesus Developed Leaders by COACHING

Whereas a teacher influences with some set agenda, a coach generally facilitates growth driven by the agenda of the leader.  The former fits more in a training posture, and the latter fits more in a developing posture.  Both are important but distinct.

When we think of Jesus as a coach, we look for when and how He exercised the core coaching practices of listening deeply and asking powerful questions.  Many times He is responding to others and sometimes He is utilizing the power of questions to guide the thinking of others.  In the description on Amazon of the book, Jesus is the Question, by Martin Copenhaver, we read:

Contrary to some common assumptions, Jesus is not the ultimate Answer Man, but more like the Great Questioner. In the Gospels, Jesus asks many more questions than He answers. To be specific, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers three. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings.

Coaching is effective because it causes self-reflection and articulation of what comes from within.  Open-ended questions require complex thought processes that hopefully elicit deeper beliefs and values.  When a leader is able to draw out (Proverbs 20:5) of a person what is influencing his or her thinking and behavior, then dialogue can flow to address strengths and weaknesses.  It is at this point that development can result in new ways of leading.

For instance, when the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus and said, “Command that in your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and one on your left,” (Matthew 20:20-21) Jesus asked the disciples if they knew what was involved.  The dialogue that pursued brought them initially to a place of greater understanding, and years later to a very personal understanding. (Acts 12:2; Revelation 1:9) Here Jesus responded by coaching for development.

In another instance, when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” some options were stated. But in the end the choice that was potentially transformational was confessed, “You are the Christ.” (Matthew 16:13-16) Partial development took place.  Immediately Peter challenged Jesus about His death in such a way that indicated his incomplete understanding.  By the time Peter preached a sermon in Acts 2, we see that his understanding was far greater by stating that Jesus’ death was part of God’s predetermined plan. (Acts 2:23) Jesus took initiative to coach Peter to develop an understanding of His person and work.

When coaching is valued and implemented, people grow from the inside out; adjusting their convictions, values, and driving beliefs into their being and doing that reflects Christlikeness.  Coaching is a powerful skill to come alongside other disciple making competencies.

To assess your bent for coaching leaders, consider these questions:

  • How committed are you to grow in your ability to listen and ask good questions?
  • How often do people say that you listen well or ask good questions?
  • How aware are you of your tendency to tell solutions over guiding others to discover their best options?
  • How willing are you to invest the time so others can learn by ongoing practice with reflection and then re-engage with more dialogue?
  • How much do you value the benefit of coaching evidenced by engaging a coach to help yourself?

Next blog: Jesus Developed Leaders by Modeling





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Jesus Developed Leaders by TEACHING

A foundational principle of Bible study is that the Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our life.  If you believe this truth, it will radically change the way you teach.  Here are a few concepts with questions for you to consider.

1.  Most teachers tend to teach the way they were taught.  Does this sound correct to you?  How do you teach which is similar to how you were taught and how have you set a different direction?  How much of your experience and teaching is information-based to increase knowledge?

2.  Teachers are often evaluated by the feeling one has or by some new insight gained at the end of the session.  How important to you are stories and illustrations?  How important is hearing some new idea?  Think back to a teacher you admire and what made that person admirable?

3.  If teachers are not trying to solely inform, they are usually trying to motivate to action.  Some teachers can naturally connect with and engage the emotions.  How much of your teaching includes touching the heart as well as the mind?  How well do people tend to respond?  Is there evidence that emotional responses result in life change?

4.  Great teachers are most committed to facilitate learning.  This is especially true with adults who usually choose what they want to learn and certainly choose what they want to apply.  When you have taught someone, do they primarily comment on some new insight you shared or how enjoyable it was to sit under your teaching?  How many people tell you that they have been challenged to think more deeply on what you taught or to adjust their behavior?

Any concordance search will show that Jesus was a recognized teacher in his day by the religious community as well as His Disciples.  In fact, over the last 2000 years people from all religious backgrounds acknowledge Jesus as a great Teacher.  What made him so great?  In Mark 1:22, 27 we learn that Jesus’ teaching was different and with authority.  What can we learn from this statement?  We will never have His inherent authority but He did delegate teaching authority to us as His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  How can we best steward our teaching responsibility?  Here are a few suggestions that seem consistent with how Jesus taught:

  • Seek to understand your audience of one or many so your style and content is relevant.
  • Give only enough content for people to process so they can draw their own conclusions.
  • Make time for reflection and dialogue during or immediately after your teaching session.
  • Invite and expect people to share something they learned that has adjusted their thinking or has potential to adjust their behavior.
  • Make yourself available to help people work through incomplete understanding.

Jesus taught authoritatively and His followers eventually lived by His teaching even to the point of death.  Such learning engaged both the mind and the heart and resulted in changed lives.  Never be satisfied teaching content that people won’t remember or motivating people who might immediately respond but without follow through.  Be set on facilitating the kind of learning that results in dynamic and sustainable change.

Please note the word of caution from James 3:1 that teachers are held to a high standard. We as teachers should teach with the gravity it deserves.  Also, see blog #40 for a reflection on Paul as a great teacher.

Next blog: Jesus Developed Leaders by Coaching





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