If you follow sports, you know that there is a difference between a great player and a great coach. The best players often do not make good coaches, and many great coaches weren’t exactly stand-out players. Phil Jackson, the great Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Laker is considered by many to be a coaching genius. Yes, he played professional basketball, but spent most of his career coming off of the bench.
When you think about it, the difference between coaching the game and playing the game makes sense. There are different gifts, talents, and analytical skills that are best suited to one role or the other. Some people are simply better coaches than they are players.
My question is: do “players” and “coaches” exist in congregational ministry? I’m thinking more along the lines of leadership roles more so than at a local congregational levels. Are seminary professors, theologians, writers, and consultants the coaches for leaders in ministry while pastors and ministers are the players? If that’s the case, then perhaps there are mediocre pastors or youth ministers who got fired from their last three churches because of poor leadership who can help coach the rest of us.
And, maybe we should stop looking at people’s personal “track record” as players and instead look at their record as coaches. Just because someone led and grew a youth ministry or church does not mean that they are qualified to write a book telling anyone else how to do it. They might be great players, but not necessarily great coaches.
Instead, we need to look at coaches’ “records” as coaches. Have they helped make better pastors and leaders? Have they helped other leaders to utilize their gifts? Do they have a record of making positive changes in real ministries?
Does any of this make sense? Who fulfills the role of a coach in ministry leadership? Or does the analogy not apply?