Coaching a Winning Team

Everyone wants to win. What do do for God is important. As ministers we’re called to do more than just “do”. We are called to equip. It is our responsibility and in our Biblical job description:

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Here’s four steps to coaching a winning team

  1. Define what the win is. Sports have clearly defined ways of winning. In football you know what you earn for scoring a touchdown, field goal, extra point, 2-point conversion or a safety. Ministry doesn’t always have such clearly defined ways of “scoring”. God’s Word does give us some clearly defined wins (such as Peter’s exhortations for elders in the church). Each church or ministry may have their own ways of define a win that lines up with their vision. Determine how you “keep score” by taking inventory of the things that mater most to you. For instance I told my youth pastor that attendance doesn’t matter as much to me as how many kids are “engaging their faith” through serving. He knows he scores more points in our church but getting kids involved.
  2. Model winning. Not only do people want to win they want to follow a winner. One thing I tell parents about leading their kids to to make a list of everything you want them to be and start being those things. One of the most powerful disciplines of discipleship is being an example. Areas where you are weak affect your ability to influence others in those areas. I’m always taking inventory in these areas:
    1. emotional health – Being self-aware of our emotional intelligence is key to growing emotionally.
    2. spiritual health – We can’t lead on empty. We have to be a self-feeders.
    3. mental health – I think sometimes my approach has been “Well I’m not mentally unstable so there’s that” instead of seeking to find areas where wrong thinking has taken hold.
    4. physical health – Whether its fair or not our appearance and health matters in our live of influence.
  3. Draft and recruit team members. As we see in the life of Jesus he drafted his disciples. In college sports, recruiters find athletes that match the overall strategy of the program. If someone has talent but doesn’t fit the type of team they are building or doesn’t have chemistry they won’t get an offer. We don’t always get the option of choosing people in that way. In fact sometimes God chooses to send us people who seem to “rub us the wrong way”. Sometimes there are some things that need “worn” off of us and thats how God polishes us. We must still exercise caution in adding team members. In our church we like to say “I’d rather want what I don’t have than to have what I don’t want.”
  4. Equip and train. It’s not enough to just get the best players on the team. The best coaches are constantly pushing their players to improve. They are evaluating, listening, watching and tweaking based on what they observe. We can do the same by evaluating our teams. Communication to and from our teams is the key to providing opportunities to grow. Are we allowing our “players” to learn and grow by giving them authority to go along with the responsibility? Are we listening to what they are telling us with their words, actions and attitudes? Often we fall in the trap of only needing people to fill a spot on the team. When we feel desperation we often throw evaluation out. I say it this way “when we only need people, we never lead people.”

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