My nine-year-old grandson loves baseball. He plays baseball on his PS4 video game system. He is a faithful fan of the Dodgers (we live in Southern California). For one of his birthdays his father arranged a birthday party for him at Dodger Stadium, which included a guided tour of the clubhouse and dugouts. He and his friends loved it. But more than playing a video game or following his favorite team, my grandson loves to play baseball. He loves to catch the ball, to bat, to run the bases, and to cheer on his teammates. He recently even pitched for the first time. One of the major keys to his wonderful Little League baseball experience has been the coaching. My grandson has coaches, who know and love the game and are committed to the boys. They know how to how to instruct, correct, and encourage, both before and during the game. I’ve watched boys strike out and return to the dugout in tears, to be greeted by a coach who smiles, commends them for their effort, and gently guides them on how to hit the ball next time. Great coaches have made my grandson a better ball player and have helped him to thoroughly enjoy the game.
Baseball is not the only endeavor where coaching is needed. I believe every pastor needs a coach. Bible College and Seminary provide a theological and practical foundation for church ministry, but no training can prepare a pastor for all that he will face when he’s out there in the church. Pastors need “in-game” instruction, correction, and encouragement. Pastors need a clergy coach. Coaching is not just for those in a ministry crisis. It’s also for the everyday pastor who faces a variety of challenges and can benefit from instruction, correction, and encouragement to face those challenges with wisdom and courage. I’ve been a pastor for 35 years. There have been many times I wish I had had someone to guide me on how to handle a difficult situation or to pick me up after I felt I had struck out. I would have been a better and happier pastor, if I had had a clergy coach.
Clergy coaching is a biblical concept. Jethro encouraged and advised Moses (Exodus 18). Jesus instructed His disciples, sent them out to serve, corrected their mistakes, and encouraged them to press on. Paul led Timothy to faith in Christ, trained him for ministry, and then gave him “in-game” instruction as Timothy pastored the church in Ephesus. We use the phrase Pastoral Epistles to describe Paul’s letters to Timothy. I also like to think of them as Clergy Coaching Epistles, because that is exactly what Paul did for Timothy. Here are a few phrases Paul used. “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction… Be diligent … Watch your life and doctrine closely … Guard what has been entrusted to your care… You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 1:18; 4:15-16; 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:1). Those are clergy coaching-type phrases. Do a quick read of 1 and 2 Timothy and you will find many examples of a coach giving “in-game” instruction to a pastor as he did his work. Clergy coaching is biblical.
Every pastor needs a coach, not only in times of ministry crisis, but also to instruct, correct, and encourage in the everyday challenges of life in the church. PIR Ministries offers a confidential and supportive coaching opportunity for “in-game” pastors. To find out more, check out the Clergy Coaching section of our website, or email us at [email protected]