The Coach & The Player

This is not about a Disney animated feature film, just in case you wondered…

Maybe it should be.

Actually this has to do with a Leadership Style that the vast majority of us utilize almost by default, when the opportunity comes to actually have to take the lead in something.

For those who think you are not a leader, well first of all, I know what you mean; I get it – you are not a CEO, or a Head Coach, Director, Manager or a leader by vocation.

Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the experiences of life will sooner or later test your metal as a leader just when you thought you would never lead anything or anyone.

For some, the arrival of their first-born child is that tester of leadership skills, as dormant as they might be. For others, the first time they serve on a Jury is that initiation into leadership. For others it is the first time they serve on a committee full of passive listeners. And then for others still, that terrible car accident where someone has to take action and save the life of someone caught in a wreck.

For those who lead as a vocation – I especially offer this encouragement.

The default setting on the leadership “button” of most all human beings is set to “Player” and for good reason – what else would we do on instinct when asked to lead something.

I will go so far as to say, you probably can’t coach a player without having played yourself. I say “player” of course with the best meaning intended.

The player of a football team is huddled together with ten others on both offense and defense. They are given instructions from the sideline by the “coach” who has worked and worked to help them be the best they can be personally, and as a team unit.

That coach knows the only way his team is going to have a chance to win, is if he can call the correct plays, and then hope that his players are able and ready to deliver what he trained them to do.

The interesting thing is this – in terms of fame, flash, and often fortune – the PLAYER is way ahead of the COACH.

Very seldom do you see posters of a Coach somewhere online. Yet the world’s great PLAYERS are everywhere! Well that is understandable as well – since the Player is much younger and has more to offer visually.

The PLAYER is in the middle of everything. The crowd cheers for the player. The camera’s focus on the player. The media mostly wants to interview the player.

But the irony is that the PLAYER is nothing without an incredible COACH. There are exceptions of course, but generally speaking the PLAYER needs the COACH, and cannot succeed without the COACH.

COACHES can make many PLAYERS great. COACHES of COACHES can have multiple times the impact.

And the leadership style of coach versus player is world’s apart.

The Player is in the middle of the field – and it’s all about him or her. But the Coach is on the sidelines, set aside. Yet that coach wants every player to be great. The coach has no intimidation for the skill level of the player. In fact – the coach rejoices in the skill level of each player and relies on that talent for the good of the team.

As I am going back and forth, can you see a better way to lead starting to make sense in your mind?

If you take a look at this past year, in your leadership endeavors (be they very few or very many) what has your style or approach mostly resembled?

Have you looked more like a coach, or a player?

If you look ore like a player, don’t condemn yourself there is hope yet! ha ha

But you need to take some time and decide some priorities. I found that as my priorities and passions changed, so did my leadership style. It happened almost without thinking.

In the church, we have many players. In the American church, you have to brand yourself as a celebrity player if you hope to keep pace with all of the other super-ministers out there tweeting and writing, podcasting and video blogging their way into your heart and soul. This is not all bad, you understand. I think we have to use the tools of our generation to communicate to that generation. I am using all of these myself!

But in the midst of the insane onslaught of “Look at Me” inherent in said ministry marketing requirements, where is the heart going?

What is your heart seeking? Do you seek a little fame and fortune down here for a while? Or have you become content at being a coach-like figure who seeks the best of your people around you?

Why is this a big deal?

Well, maybe it’s just that Ephesians 4 talks about pastors as being called to “equip the saints for ministry” and I’m thinking, maybe the Apostle Paul really meant that.

It’s time for coaches to learn their craft.

If we can get more coaches, we will create better players. And they will play with humility as part of the team.

And the church, is a team, if it is anything.

God bless you!