Guest post by Darin Anderson
A good coach can quickly identify the players with potential to be truly exceptional in their sport. A great coach finds ways to develop that potential, encouraging and challenging the player to rise to the levels he/she is capable of reaching. Coaching is essentially potential-development. One of a coaches biggest challenges is finding the strengths and abilities in every one of his players in order to help each one improve and reach their full potential.
I had a little guy on my Kindergarten basketball team who could not get his shot to the eight foot rim with conventional form, so he learned the two handed underhand style. I worked with him for twenty minutes, trying to retrain his mind and body to break his wrist and shoot from the chest. But he kept on reverting to his underdog approach. Later in a scrimmage he actually made a shot using his own unique approach. (You can see I had my work cut out for me with this one.) As it turned out, this player’s dad had been in the hospital for over a month – so improving his shooting form is really the least of his worries. My goal in working with him was much more to make a relational connection with him and his family, meeting him exactly where he was ability-wise, and finding ways to encourage and lift him up. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement in his basketball skills by the end of the season as well.
Reflecting on this reminded me that coaching is really a basic life skill. In every area of life – family, church, work, neighborhood – we have opportunities to see potential and develop it in people. My three older boys all have very different interests and abilities. One is more artistic and loves to draw and create; one is more reflective and analytical and enjoys focusing intently on how something works; one is more physical and likes to take on his bigger brothers in anything. All three of them come to life when I sit down with them and tune into their world. And I can see them physically deflate when I miss something they said because I wasn’t really paying attention. My job is not to train them all to become impressive athletes. My job is to encourage and challenge them to develop as caring, responsible human beings and as passionate followers of Jesus – and part of that is seeing each of their unique abilities and helping them grow in them.
I happen to be a pastor whose vocation is potential-development. But all of us are coaches in the circles of influence in which God has placed us – identifying potential and finding ways to develop it.