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Shepherding Shepherds

Coaching, shepherding 

Who is shepherding the shepherds?  The reality for many is no one!  Church members need to be cared for by compassionate godly shepherds.  Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  1 Peter 5:2 continues with the shepherding theme, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”  Maybe the most neglected and uncared for members of the local church are the ministry leaders?     

According to Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, “Every church leader needs a coach.  And every church leader needs to be coaching others!”  In their book Gospel Coach they say, “Coaching ministry leaders is a key aspect to their ongoing effectiveness as shepherds of the Lord’s flock.  We believe coaching is necessary because it is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to a leader in order to fulfill their ministry role—something every leader needs—but it is done in the context of a gospel relationship…the entire flock suffers when its shepherds are not healthy.”

My good friend Danny Kirk says, Everybody needs a coach…that’s a bold statement!  Everybody?  Well, if you are someone who believes that God has created you for His purpose and your desire is to move forward and complete God’s plan and goals for your life, then a Christian coach can help you get there. The term “coach” comes from the transportation era of stagecoaches and rail coaches in which the “coach” literally transported a person from one place to another. In today’s context, a coach is a person who initiates an ongoing conversation that benefits the other person and moves them forward through discovery, learning, and creating a doable action plan.”  

Robert E. Logan defines coaching as: “The process of coming alongside a person or team to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry, and then cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that agenda become a reality.”   Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl in Transformissional Coaching define coaching this way, “Coaching, as we see it, enables transformation, which in turn leads to missional ministry.  Great coaches come alongside leaders so that leaders can be transformed into the image of Christ and join Him on His redemptive mission.”  Coaching can make a huge difference in anyone’s life, especially leaders, because it is shepherding as directed by the scriptures.  

Felling alone and separated from others is one of the greatest dangers to leaders.  Studies have shown that the aloneness factor can lead to arrogance (I’m the only one that has figured this out), which can lead to addiction (I have to find something to feel my void of relationships), and then even on to adultery (the acceptance of a cheap substitute for satisfaction).  The other side of the equation is Ecc 4:10, “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”  From a recent study on church planter survivability Ed Stetzer said, “Planters who met weekly with a mentor…led churches that were almost twice the size of those who had no mentor.”

Coaching is a biblically based way to encourage one another in the ministry that has also proven to be very effective in keeping leaders on track.  More importantly though is the fact that it helps the one being coached to remain spiritually healthy.   You can be coached and you can be trained to be a better coach.  Feel free to contact me (larry@bmaam.com), Danny Kirk (www.youneedcoaching.com) or Kirk Shelton (www.2-46coaching.com).  Remember that every leader needs a coach and every leader needs to be coaching others.  A coach helps you to remain healthy through accountability in your personal, spiritual, and missional life.

Healthy churches shepherd and care for their shepherds and their sheep!

Blessing Others

Lately, whenever I go into a gas station someone is always asking for some help because they are out of money and stranded. I have been approached more lately than I can ever recall and it does not matter if I am travelling in state, out of state, or close to home. I am always confused on who to help and who not to help. There have been times I have helped and other times I have refused and when I have helped it felt good but I must admit when I didn’t help I felt terrible. It makes we wonder if sometimes I use stewardship of my money as an excuse to be stingy more than a reason to be wise.

Allow me to relate one recent encounter I had and I must admit that I really didn’t want to be bothered. I noticed someone approaching the gas pump I was using. Aggravation began to swell up inside me and I was about to tell them, “Hey, get a job like the rest of us!” When I turned around to set them straight it was a young lady about 21 years of age balancing a baby on each hip. I looked at her and sternly said, “Pull your car up over there and I will put some gas in it for you!” She told me she wanted to pay me back but I told her it was a gift not a loan. When she asked me why I just told her I wanted to display the love of Christ to her in a practical way.

Recently, my wife and I were discussing our S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) devotions in Proverbs 3. We were comparing which verses we had chosen to journal on. It is actually a lot of fun to see which verse we choose and we hardly ever choose the same verse. She had chosen Proverbs 3:27 which says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” Wow, that really got me and I begin to study more what God said about being generous to those less fortunate. Honestly, I am a pro when it comes to thinking of reasons why I should not help those in need.

The principle here is clear; we have been blessed so that we can bless others. It is not ours but belongs to the Lord. It is a question of stewardship. When God leads us to help someone and we do not help them then we have betrayed His trust in us. Still need some convincing? Still struggling a little with this one? Jesus exhorts us Matthew 5 to go the extra mile and in verse 42 He says, “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” The general rule that our king gives us is that it is better to give sometimes to an undeserving person, than to turn away one who really is in need.

Matthew 25:35-40 says, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

We should make it a habit to be generous! I shared the story of the young lady needing gas at Jackson Missionary Baptist Church during a revival I recently had the privilege to preach there. On the last night of the meeting the pastor came to me with an envelope and told me that an anonymous person had given him this so I could help buy people’s gas who were in need. Later I opened it up and there was $300 all in twenties. Once again God had confirmed to me that it is better to give than receive. This evening I went to the gas station looking for someone I could bless but came up empty. Oh, well, I seem to be in gas stations a lot these days so there is always tomorrow!