by Dr. Tom Wood
"GOSPEL COACHING is the single most important ingredient in the health and sustainability of a ministry leader."
Obviously that is quite a bold statement. But having been leading ministry for over 30 years, and having only half of those years being involved in coaching, I can assure you of its reality. Coaching, with the gospel as the central organizing principle, is more important than training seminars (and I train), reading a book for a new skill (and I have written 5 books) or even “practicing to make perfect” (and I play golf that way).
Paul wrote to his protégé Titus that the gospel teaches us to live lives of ongoing repentance (to say “No” to our desires for what this world offers that are not honoring to God), to ongoing Faith (Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us for himself—as his very own!), and to ongoing Following (to say “Yes” to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives; see Titus 2:11,12). Using those three steps of what I call the “Gospel Dance” is life critical for the leader. Gospel Coaching utilizes those realities in navigating ministry leadership.
Ongoing gospel-leading is not a decrease of your desires and an increase of your will power to do better for God, nor to be more faithful in ministry or more duty bound. It is not a matter of the will, but the heart. We are always controlled by our deepest desires. People do what they love to do. And in leading others, no matter what the job, the ministry can easily become the thing we are most passionate about — at the expense of our kids, our spouses, and even God. I know because I’ve been there and have a dozen T-shirts to prove it. When Jesus is the true passion of your heart, your deepest joy and satisfaction, then all our other desires are brought into order. A Gospel Coach will help you to discover the freedom of the gospel for leading.
“The true secret to all ministry is spiritual power. It is not man’s genius, or man’s intellect, or man’s energy; but simply the power of the Spirit of the God of the Gospel. It is well for all [leaders] to bear this ever in mind. It will sustain the heart and give constant freshness to their ministry. A ministry that flows from abiding dependence upon the Holy Spirit can never become barren.
“If a man is drawing on his own resources, he will soon run dry. It matters not what his powers may be, or how extensive his reading, or how vast his stores of information; if the Holy Spirit be not the spring and power of his ministry, it must, sooner or later, lose its freshness and its effectiveness. How important, then, that all who minister in the gospel should lean continually and exclusively on the power of the Holy Spirit. He knows what souls need, and He can supply it. But he must be trusted and used. It will not do to lean partly on self and partly on the Spirit” (C H Macintosh, Notes on the Book of Numbers, 1861).
Gospel Coaches also involve "Kingdom Prayer" in the coaching conversation. Why is prayer so important to a Gospel Coaching conversation? Prayer helps the Leader remember that God must work. We do not just add a prayer to conclude coaching. Sometimes prayer is necessary during the coaching conversation. It isn’t necessary that it wait until the end. Sometimes the leader should stop and confess his/her sin or praise God for granted grace and forgiveness. Sometimes the coach may stop and offer praise and thanksgiving for the great things God has done. At the end though, prayer allows coach and leader to realign the focus and dependence upon the gospel and His Spirit. Ample time should be reserved for praying together.
Sometimes in coaching we have to use “Interventive Prayer.” Interventive is how we pray when there’s a crisis or ongoing need. It’s how we pray when a child is sick or someone in the church is having a marital blow up. It’s our ongoing prayer list for the same things each week.
As Gospel Coaches, we need to invite the leader to also have “Preventative prayer” in there leadership life. This is the daily workout with God. It is the Gospel Dance in the soul. It is ongoing time of repenting of my negative emotions and false beliefs (If I had more people coming then everything would be better or If God would send us some leaders we could really have a greater impact). Preventative ongoing repentance helps strip away our false saviors and idols.
It also informs our faith system with “True Truth”. Jesus really has done it all. I pray thankfully that He has lived the life I cannot live. His death has paid for my guilt and shame. His life now before the Father is one of intercession and provision. I have His Spirit in me. I have a True Midnight Friend, a Father, who knows what I need and is eager to give good things to me, his son. Even his own Spirit! With that, my new affections are to believe him and follow him. That is prayer at its best.
Many ministry leaders and pastors feel confused or discouraged about what to do when they’re struggling. A Gospel Coach will help guide your church through a process of identifying and implementing practical, measurable, gospel-focused ministry practices that sharpen the God given mission and improve the health of the local church. Learn more today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!