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A good reflection from my spiritual director, Father Thomas. His writing is always thought provoking.

Upward Call -- Gleanings On The Way

“… the sound[s] of silence.” Those words, to those of us who are children of the 60’s have a very special meaning. It was 1964. The country was reeling in the aftermath of the assassination of President John Kennedy. The Viet Nam war is raging. The protest movements (anti-war and civil rights) are finding their voice and momentum; the exploration of alternative lifestyles is becoming a national fascination (either being fascinated with the possibilities they seemed to offer or fascinated with condemning it – either way, people were focused). Paul Simon articulated in those four words, the tragic character of the human condition. The lyrics flesh out the meaning and I highly recommend it to you as a study in “fallen-ness” and a powerful portrayal of sin and death using “non-religious” language.

In my last blog post I spoke of the need to know and make known and the role…

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We revamped the website and have moved the blog posts to the website itself. I have added a number of new posts that are no longer showing up here. So grab the link and head on over to the website at http://www.immersionstrategies.com. See you there.

Listening as a technique is manipulative. After writing the last blog this thought kept coming to me. Real listening is rooted in a deep desire to understand the other. Remember that I suggested in the last blog that Jesus Christ demonstrated this kind of deep listening by living on earth with us for 30 years before He began His ministry. I am not suggesting that God didn’t or doesn’t understand us, in fact, I am certain that He understands us far better than we understand ourselves. Still, Jesus live with us, worked with us, sweated with us, fellowshipped with us, lived life with us for 33 years. Why? No matter His need for understanding or lack thereof, He invested all that time in being, really being with us.

If you are genuinely interested in another listening is a natural thing to do. Genuine listening presupposes that you don’t know what the other is thinking, feeling and experiencing. This is such a key to good coaching. Often we don’t know what is going on in our own hearts let alone the heart and soul of another. It is perfectly fine for us to have ideas about the experience of the other and even strong opinions, but for the coach to assume that she knows best what is happening in the other is actually arrogance. Just last week I spent some time with a good friend. As we were talking about a choice he was facing I kept asking questions seeking to understand. We were 20 minutes into the conversation before we hit a key factor in making the decision he needed to make. Without listening I would have never thought of what came out, and it was inside him. Our listening together brought real clarity around that particular factor which I am certain will be a key to the right decision in the right time.

I have encountered many who use listening as a technique to gather evidence for what they have already chosen. This is not listening to coach but listening to justify. Sometime ago I was in a series of deep discussions with another. We were just meeting and considering whether or not the Lord had some work for us to do together. So, we were in a time of significant discovery. What we discovered of each other and how that discovery process worked would be significant for our future working relationship. Somewhere along the way I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. (By the way listening to ourselves is also a key to listening to others.) I posed this question, “Are you asking me questions to be in genuine discovery with me or are you asking questions like a general on a reconnaissance mission getting the information you need as you prepare your strategy for battle?”

So as you engage coaching others ask yourself if you are listening as a technique or out of deep and genuine interest in the other and a real belief that as you listen together God’s mind will be revealed. What could be more fabulous than that?

Thanks for joining us in the journey of Immersion in Christ and His word, calling us into Immersion in God’s work in God’s World, demanding our Immersion in Radical Living in the Holy Spirit.

Barbara and I attended an early gathering this morning with our spiritual director and three other friends. The gospel reading for today was from Mark 14:10-42 and is Mark’s account of the Lord’s last supper with the disciples. For many years now I have meditated on the common words of communion taken from Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:23, “…the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;” What messes with my head is that the greatest expression of covenantal love was made in the context of abject human betrayal. On the night in which He was betrayed He took the bread… Knowing, even telling them that the one who would specifically betray Him was right there at the table with them.

But don’t just focus on Judas. He actively and deliberately betrayed our Lord but so did all the others though for the rest it was a much more passive betrayal. It wasn’t just Peter who declared his undying loyalty to Christ with a bravado that evaporated in the cold hard glare of Jesus’ violent arrest and trial, it was all of them. It has been me. Perhaps it has been you. Yet, on the night in which He was betrayed He took the bread… On the night of the worst failure of our human partnership with God, God made the most lavish declaration of His love for that failed humanity. And that is the very essence of the Gospel; God’s lavish success in the midst of our abysmal failure. The good news is that on the night in which He was betrayed He took the bread. It wasn’t in the day of our sincere declaration of love and faithful service. That had been a part of the disciples lives as well, but it was on the night of their betrayal that He took the bread forever establishing our covenant meal together.

Religion tries to get us to forget that night. Religion tries to get us to live in some kind of crazy sense of quid pro quo with God. We do good and God loves us, we do poorly and, well….we aren’t quite so sure. But the gospel declares that on the night in which He was betrayed He established His New Covenant with us. His love stands boldly in the context of our betrayal quite simply overpowering our failure in the inexorable strength of His love. Wow!!!!!! I can’t wrap my mind around the wonder of that. I wish you could see me as I am writing this as the smile just keeps spreading wider across my face. He, our God, is amazing in His love.

When I was about 7 or 8 I was stopped on my way home from school (we walked back in those ancient times) by a boy at least a couple of years older than me. From my perspective at that time he seemed like an indomitable giant. I have no idea why but he demanded that I say out loud that there was no God before he would let me pass and that if I refused to say it he was going to beat me up. I remember trying to be clever with him and somehow avoid making the statement he was demanding and at the same time avoid denying God. I was at the same moment as Peter and the others on that night, only with far less dramatic consequences. Unfortunately I realized I couldn’t avoid both and chose to avoid the beating. I betrayed God. I remember running all the way home expecting a lightening bolt to come from heaven and fry me on the spot. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that on the afternoon in which I betrayed the Lord He took the bread…

E. Stanley Jones wrote this, “Jesus took the worst thing that could happen to him, namely, the cross, and turned it into the best thing that could happen to humanity, namely, its redemption. He didn’t bear the cross; he used it. The cross was sin, and he turned it into the healing of sin; the cross was hate, and he turned it into a revelation of love; the cross was man at his worst, and Jesus turned it into God at his redemptive best.” Amen and Amen!

It is with the deepest gratitude to our Lord that Barbara and I seek to do so ourselves and invite you to join us in immersion in Christ and His Word, which calls us into immersion in God’s Work in His Loved World, demanding our immersion in radical living in the Holy Spirit.

I have got to be frustrating all you linear thinkers. I listed four challenges in the the phrase, “Showing tolerance to one another in love.” I then started with the last one and wrote a bit about agape love and then the reciprocity of tolerance. Now I am going to start at the beginning. What is tolerance? Are we talking about a Biblical version of I’m okay you’re okay? Does tolerance mean anything goes, as long as it isn’t directly hurting someone else? Does tolerance mean that I cannot voice my own opinion or that if I do I will perceived as being judgmental? These are some of the questions we run into when we feel caught in our culture’s demand that we be tolerant of one another. On the other hand God seems to be pretty intolerant when one considers that He created an everlasting Hell and is going to send some there. What about God’s intolerance with sin in the Old Testament, opening up the earth and swallowing people whole and raining down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. What does He mean by having Paul write about tolerance in this chapter on organizational structure?

The King James version of the Bible translates the word “tolerance” as forbearance. I think that helps us get at the meaning a bit better. Keep in mind that we are talking about building team God’s way. As we continue through Ephesians 4 we are going to discover a complete structure or organizational culture that undergirds our current discussion. Every qualification to follow is part of what bounds our tolerance of one another, but the Holy Spirit through Paul is after settling something in us before He gives us those mitigating factors. I think the reason is that if we put all the mitigating factors in place first we will simply find ways to justify our intolerance whereas if we commit to tolerance toward one another as an evidence of our humility the subsequent qualifications will strengthen our experience of team rather than diminish it. In my experience creating, living in, and sustaining team God’s way is one of the most significant challenges of our lives. God has made it that way because the power He releases through teams formed and sustained in Him is the most significant in the whole universe. Indeed, narrow is the gate and straight is the way that leads unto team life in God and few there be that find it.

Without humility demonstrated in gentleness, in patience and in showing tolerance to one another in love it is impossible. The tolerance the Paul writes of here is genuinely bearing one another. Dennis Peacocke has written an incredible list called, “Rules of Engagement.” One of the rules is called buttressing one another. The concept is that every member of the team has weaknesses and that the typical response to weaknesses on an ungodly team is either to demand the person change in their area of weakness or for other team members to exploit that weakness to their own advantage. On a godly team we recognize that God has created each of us with weaknesses and that those weaknesses aren’t necessarily flaws but rather an opportunity for others on the team to fill the holes. Instead of criticizing the weakness we buttress that weakness in the other strengthening them at that place so that the whole remains strong.

Over the years I have been part of many teams both inside the church and outside the church. I will never forget the experience as a young adult of being a part of a team filled with insecure team members and an insecure team leader. At one point I spectacularly failed the team. My failure was caused by my own ego, independence and fear. I was clearly at fault. All of the team members other than one used my failure as an opportunity for their advancement. The one who did not was actually the one who discovered my failure and blew the whistle on me. Yet he was the one who buttressed me in my failure and came alongside me strengthening me so that I could correct the error and perform for the team. You see there was a very real weakness that is part of the way God made me that needed to be shored up by others, by a team. It was my ego, independence and fear that kept me from being open about the real weakness and that is where the real failure lay.

Tolerance or forbearance is our real way of acknowledging that there are somethings I cannot do and that you cannot do but together they can be done because God is the one who put us on this team together and He is the master team builder and makes sure that every gift, every skill, every person and every talent is provided for the success of the team. My tolerance of the weakness of another on the team allows their tolerance of my weakness so that together we can bear for one another and thereby release the success of the team.

One final note, this tolerance must be shown. Let me go back to my own example above. To be honest I didn’t really like the team member who blew the whistle on me. This was because I had not accepted my own God designed weakness and he was strong where I was weak. Rather than seeing that as a gift I saw that as a threat. But when he showed his tolerance or forbearance for me by calling me to account and then bringing his gift along mine so that the team could succeed I not only found success again on the team but a real friend and a real team member. It is not enough to merely be tolerant we must be willing to show it in real ways and that is by coming along side our other team members offering real help in their time of real need. In a very real way we become immersed in Christ and His Word calling us into immersion in God’s Work in God’s World demanding our immersion in radical living in the Holy Spirit.

When Barbara and I first sensed the Lord was moving us out of pastoral ministry and into full time coaching and training I called a friend I had recently met who Is a master coach to see what kind of advice he might give me. By the way good coaches have a coach. The first question he asked me was worth way more than the call. “Bill, do you want to be a coach or a mentor?” I debated competitively in high school and sometimes the debate never got past the definition of terms. I asked him to define what he meant by coach and mentor. His answer was that mentors are focused on getting what is in them into the ones they are mentoring, whereas coaches are about the business of drawing the talents and gifts out of the one they are coaching. Sure, sometimes the lines between the two can get a bit blurred but there is a very different overall orientation between the two. We both have a lot of life lessons that we have to pass on to others and so do you, but I am more interested in coaching and empowering others to make their greatest possible contribution in their partnership with God in His redemptive plan for this planet.

Proverbs 20:5 is one of the key verses in the Bible upon which we build our coaching. It says, “A plan in the heart of a man or woman is like deep water, but one of understanding draws it out.” Another Proverb that has been very meaningful to us is found in chapter 18 and verse 13, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” I don’t even want to think how many times I have done that and how many times it has been done to me. Many years ago we went through a time of major disillusionment. Those times are actually not bad but they are very difficult. You cannot be disillusioned unless you were holding onto an illusion and God is committed to bringing us into His reality which is infinitely better than our best imagined illusions. But like any of you who have gone through your own time of disillusionment (and I am sure everyone reading this has) I was shattered for awhile and didn’t know what to believe. God in His marvelous mercy and grace brought a man into our lives named Richard McAfee. Frankly, I don’t know how he put up with me. I was angry and cynical and vociferous, which is not a very pleasant conversation. But Richard listened to me and he taught me to listen to others. In fact together we coined a phrase saying it was our goal to listen people down to the level of their faith.

Before concluding this opening section on our second coaching tip I want to leave you with this thought around how important listening is. One of the names for God is Immanuel, that is to say God with us. Take some time and meditate on this. Adam was formed a mature man. Jesus could have been made into flesh in the same way. But He chose to be planted as a seed in the womb of a young virgin girl in Israel. He, God, laid aside His privilege (a thought I can’t even come close to fathoming) and entered life as a human being. We don’t know how or when His consciousness of who He was grew in Him. Certainly it was well on the way at the age of 12 when He had His encounter in the temple. Yet He didn’t emerge into His public ministry until 18 years later at the age of 30. What was He doing during those 18 years and the 12 before that. I would suggest to you that He was listening to humanity and walking far more than a mile in our shoes. If God, Jesus Christ, listened for 30 years before He spoke that which has been recorded for all time in the Gospels, and He was very God of very God, then perhaps we should concentrate ourselves on listening long and well to others before we speak.

Listen, listen, and then listen some more. Who do you need to listen to? Who is in your life who is wondering if anyone ever really hears them. Give them your ear. Listen to them. Don’t just read this and either like it or not, find someone who you can listen to until they discover their own faith. I am going to share more tips as we go along and more about this one, but you can be a life giving coach right now simply by skillfully and with genuine care listening to another. As we listen to others we will learn to hear them, ourselves and most importantly God. And then we can become even more immersed in Him and His Word, calling us into immersion in His work in His World, demanding immersion in radical living in the Holy Spirit.

The third evidence of humility is showing tolerance for one another in love. With each concept Paul draws us into deeper and deeper challenges in our team relationships. Tolerance is such a buzzword in our culture today. On the one hand are those who seem to be very intolerant of their perceived intolerance in others. On the other hand are those who fear that tolerance is compromise. Yet now Paul tells us that if we are going to build teams according to God’s pattern we must be humble and showing tolerance for one another in love evidences that humility.

This one may take a blog or two to unpack. There are four challenges in this short phrase. The first is being tolerant. Secondly, it is not enough to “be” tolerant we are to show it, it has to be seen. Third, it is to one another, meaning it is reciprocal, and finally it is to be done in love. Let’s start with the last one first. In love we are to show tolerance to one another. The Greek word used is agape. It is far beyond my ability to adequately describe agape love. It is the love God has for us and one way to approach an understanding is to say that agape love is completely based in the one who loves without demand on the object of that love. We could say it is love that demands no response. God’s love for us is completely rooted in Him and who He is and is not changed by our response or lack thereof. Agape love demands no reciprocity while always extending an invitation for response. It is expressed beautifully in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with Him, and he with Me.”

Humility stands at the door to the heart and soul of every member of the team and knocks. It doesn’t break down the door. It doesn’t stand at the door and scream. It knocks and by knocking acknowledges that only the person behind the door has the right to open the door. Humility is eager to enter the room of the thoughts, creativity, feelings, dreams and desires of the other but it does not demand entrance it respectfully seeks entrance. Revelation 3:20 is such a beautiful picture because if the door is opened entrance isn’t for a brief visit and look around but He will sit at table and dine with us and us with Him. This is a picture of intimate sharing in relationship.

This segues into our third point from above. Humility invites reciprocity. As I demonstrate tolerance in love I invite others to be tolerant of me as well. We will talk about this later but Paul tells us that one of the ways the organization gets built is by that which every joint supplies. That is an interesting point for the organization doesn’t get built on the value of the individual parts but on the value created when those parts are joined together. Remember that humility is not self-deprecation but rather valuing the contribution of the other in the same way that I value my own contribution. So we are to be tolerant of one another; you tolerant of me and me tolerant of you. Without that tolerance one or the other of the members will dominate and instead of releasing the power of the joint, the relationship, we use the other member to validate what we bring to the table without bringing their part to the table as well. Tolerance in love releases the synergy of the relationship, which is where the real creativity happens. This is reflected in the very nature of God when He said in Genesis, “Let US make man in Our image.

Take a moment and think about your team. Where do you see an opportunity to be more tolerant? Where do you long for others to be tolerant of you long enough so that you can get out of your heart and soul what you long to bring to the team? If you feel that longing whom else on the team is living in that same longing. In the next blog we will look at the other two elements. Meanwhile let us continue to immerse ourselves in God and His Word as He calls us into immersion in His work in His world demanding our radical immersion in life in the Holy Spirit

At Immersion Strategies Barbara and I coach/disciple from a very specific matrix. After settling the topic of the previous post, “Jesus is Lord, Not You,” it seems appropriate to outline that matrix and then fit the other tips under each of the various components of the matrix. The matrix the Lord has given us has five components. I will give them to you as headings and then explain each briefly so that we can put subsequent tips under each of those headings. Coaching is about mastery and mastery requires repetition until the notion we are dealing with becomes automatic. Mastery begins to take hold when we are no longer thinking about the action itself and free to focus on its application. That means I will be unashamedly repeating things. First and foremost, Jesus is the discipler of all and He coaches through the Holy Spirit.

That said, the five components of our coaching matrix are (1) Discipleship is based on God’s assignment in the relationship. (2) God is always talking to each of us all the time. The privilege of the coach is to help the disciple grow in their awareness of God’s conversation. (3) When God speaks there is always a “to do” in the conversation. Out of the “to do” agreements are made with the Lord by the disciple. (4) We either do or fail to do what we agreed to do and the coach’s task is to help the disciple discover the real reason for that obedience or lack thereof. (5) The greatest growth in mastery comes from discipling others. We ask that every person we coach start coaching someone else.

1: God’s relational assignment: While both the coach and the disciple bring an array of gifts, skills and life experience to the coaching, Christian coaching goes to a different level with God’s sovereign assignment in the coaching relationship. We know we bring value to our coaching relationships and we find great value in each of our disciples as well, but we are reaching for God’s value which is so far beyond our own that it is beyond comparison. When God creates a relational assignment He joins wholeheartedly in the relationship releasing His gifts, skills and life into that relationship. Who wouldn’t want a part of that?

2: God is always talking: God is into Self-revelation. He wants to be known and is communicating to us all the time. The problem is that communication gets lost without the skill to sort through our own self-generated talk and the flurry of communication from everything around us including other people, media and a plethora of other sounds in our worlds. Good coaching helps the disciple learn to sift through all the chatter to the central communications of God in their lives.

3: The “To Do” in the Word of the Lord: In our experience of God’s Word both written and subjective, there is always a “to do” in His Word to us. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of the Lord. “Cast your nets on the other side of the boat,” “Go and sin no more,” “Catch a fish and find a coin in its mouth to pay your taxes,” “Go wash the mud from your eyes.” I have yet to find an encounter in the Scripture without an assignment in the encounter. If you can find one let me know, but I don’t think you will. Here is the thing, once you have the assignment you automatically make an agreement either to do it or not. The coach comes alongside the disciple to define and clarify the assignment and the agreement between the disciple and the Lord.

4: Accountability around the assignment: This is an essential task for the coach and the disciple. In some ways getting into the deep conversation around fulfillment of the assignment or its lack is the key to coaching. We will write more about this later but sometimes we accomplish the assignment for the wrong reason and miss the true value of the assignment. Sometimes we fail in the assignment because we misheard and it was the wrong assignment. This is more about the deepest position of the heart than it is about simple obedience. I have often done the right thing for the wrong reason.

5: Coaching others: Jesus said that he who seeks to save his life will lose it but that the one who loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it. Every discipling session with another adds immeasurable to Barbara and me. We feel like we are learning more than the ones we are coaching. Our encouragement is to start right away. Find someone in your world who needs someone to come alongside them and do it. You will learn more in the giving than in the getting. Application of truth is the pathway to mastery. Even if your skill level is very low simply your relational investment has great value.

On a final note, I experience a great deal of energy as I am writing these blogs. For virtually all my journey with the Lord I have both longed to be discipled and to be an effective discipler. Jesus Christ’s methodology was discipleship. From all apparent accounts He had failed miserably by the time of his return trip to the Father at the ascension. They were still asking questions that totally missed the mark. But when the Holy Spirit fell on them at the day of Pentecost all that He had put into them exploded into a reality that has literally changed the world and is still growing over 2,000 years later. If every one who reads this will do the same we can accelerate His work in His world.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is to start right now by finding someone into whom you can invest that which God has given you. Here is the wonderful thing about kingdom of God reality, what you give away grows in you and in the one you have given it to. So why not just jump in and let’s have a blast as we continue to immerse ourself in God and His Word, calling us into immersion in His Work in His World, demanding our immersion in radical living in the Holy Spirit.

Humility is the foundational ethos of team members in God’s organizations.  Humility has nothing to do with self-deprecation.  As we discussed in a previous post, if that were the case then Jesus Christ could not be humble but He described Himself as gentle and humble of heart.  Humility is fully recognizing my own value as a son or daughter of the Lord while fully recognizing the value of every other member of the team.  In our last two posts we looked at gentleness as a practical outworking of humility.  Stated another way, humility demonstrates itself in gentleness.  Gentleness is an acknowledgment of ones own strength and value without using that strength to dominate or control others.

Our working premise in this foundation to understanding God’s organizational pattern is that the four things Paul writes about following his call to humility describe what true humility looks like.  Whereas gentleness is founded on living in my own skin confident in the one God has created in me, patience is a direct acknowledgment of the value of the others on the team.  This isn’t an impatient patience.  I think you know what I mean.  It is not the kind of patience where I am simply waiting on you to get with the program, but a patience that gives you the time necessary to play your part because without you there is no program.  I am willing to be patient with others on the team because I value them and their contributing part of the team.  Without everyone on the team playing their part the team is not God’s team.  We wait for one another because without one another we aren’t team.

One of the things that Barbara and I have learned in our team work is that we process situations and facts very differently.  Wives are great for getting at this in a very real way.  She knows if I am just waiting on her to see things from my perspective or if I am waiting on her because I so value her input that I refuse to move without it. We are very different people and we process things very differently. This is a perfect example of the celebration of discipline. I can either view our differences as an obstacle to my agenda or our different perspectives ad an incredible gift so that whenever we encounter a situation we have more input and a broader view.

I believe this is the kind of patience about which Paul writes. It is a practical and real demonstration of humility that values the others on the team. Later in chapter 4 we read, “…being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part.” We will have much more to say when we get there, but for now I want to emphasize that in God’s organizations there are no unnecessary team members. Not only is their place on the team essential but their proper working is critical. Only then will the team hold together. Jim Collins addresses this beautifully in his book Good to Great. He uses the metaphor that we need the right people on the bus, and beyond that we need them in the right seat on the bus. Without patience that will never happen.

Think about who you need to be patient with in your team. Is that a foot tapping patience or is that a patience rooted in humility eagerly waiting for the release of the gift of Christ in them. How much input are you missing because of your impatience? How much less is being produced by the team because you haven’t waited on those who are still finding their own way into the solution? What does you impatience say about your own arrogance and lack of humility? Ouch, those questions just got me as I wrote them.

On a final note with this blog, this stuff is really challenging me as I write it. The Holy Spirit is showing me numbers of ways in which I am not gentle and pointing out my impatience to me as well. I don’t like to say it this boldly but it is true, wherever that is true I am operating out of arrogance rather than humility. And, by the way, I am more and more coming to the conclusion that arrogance is masked insecurity. Humility allows us to be passionately immersed in Christ and His Word, calling us into immersion in God’s Work in God’s World, demanding immersion in Radical Living in the Holy Spirit.

Alright, one of my readers gave me a hard time because they couldn’t find the “tip” in my first blog on coaching tips. The teacher motivation always comes out in me and I want to lay a foundation before just jumping into things. But, here we go with tip #1; Jesus is Lord, not you. It sounds pretty obvious, but most of us have at least a subtle messianic complex in us, meaning we think we can save others. Some of us have a massive messianic complex, and I am afraid we pastors as a whole may be worse than most. Sometimes that is motivated by a power trip but more often than not it is driven by an unrealistic sense of responsibility. As a coach it is your responsibility to draw out of the other what is in them. Proverbs 20:5 says, “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.” This is a great Scripture to get deep in your spirit as a coach.

Many years ago I was given the responsibility of discipling one of the men in our congregation. I, quite mistakenly, believed it was my responsibility to make sure that he solved all the problems in his life, and he had a few. His personal hygiene was suspect, he was afraid of his wife, he was painfully over-educated, and under-employed and his kids acted strange. I felt responsible for his behavior. What an absurd thing to do with another adult. But many of us do so in either very overt ways or pretty subtle ones. This left me in constant tension around him because my misplaced responsibility had me constantly feeling like I should do something to alter his behavior and my human decency wanted to find a way to just encourage him.

I had a spiritual mentor at the time and I finally went to him and poured out my frustration at how messed up Mr. X was and my own sense of profound failure in not being able to bring him into righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. After listening to me for a bit my mentor leaned across his desk and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Bill, he is God’s son not yours.” Jesus is Lord, not me and not you.

Jesus Christ is the Master discipler/coach. At the end of His time with His disciples He left them with clear instructions for continuing the coaching He had given them. Since He was soon to leave He left another coach in place, the Holy Spirit. in John 14:16 He introduced the Holy Spirit to His disciples. He could have called the Holy Spirit many things; boss, leader, CEO, administrator, manager, etc. You get the point. But instead He called him the Helper. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as the Helper. The Greek word used in this verse is Paracletos and literally means one who comes alongside of another to help them. It has also been translated as comforter, advocate and intercessor. It is my conviction that all Jesus Christ’s discipleship is through the active agency of the Holy Spirit.

If He is the Helper than for us to be anything more than that to another is absurd. Let me write it one more time, Jesus is Lord, not you and not me. Coaching tip #1 is to remember that. Remember that when others try to get you to be responsible for them, and they will. Remember that when you try to make yourself responsible for someone else’s behavior. You are called to come alongside them and draw out the deep plans that their Lord, Jesus Christ, has put deep in their hearts and souls.

One last thing before closing this blog. You already have all you need to get started. Find someone and start coaching them; a fatherless child, a struggling co-worker; a friend in need. You already have the Helper alongside you and as you listen to Him you have everything you need to be alongside someone, to comfort someone, to advocate for someone, to intercede for someone. And, when you remember that Jesus Christ is Lord not you, much of the pressure is off. When He sent His disciples as He was going to return to the Father He told them to go and make disciples. That commission remains just the same today.

All the more reason to be immersed in Christ and His word, calling us into immersion in His work in His world demanding immersion in radical living in the Holy Spirit.