Coaching The Bench

I coach others. I do not coach winners, in the sense of those who win trophies and championships. I do not coach stars, in the sense of those who advance through the stages of competition in order to be the best on stage. I do not coach elites , in the sense of those who continue to excel in performance in order to always be in the top ten (or whatever number is suitable for the endeavor). And there are various reasons that I do NOT coach the aforementioned.

In general, I would describe my coaching as “coaching the bench.” I coach the ones who are not in the limelight. I coach the ones whose activity is more practice than competition. I coach the ones who are behind the scenes — maybe they are like the researchers in the professions, the laboratory technicians in the advancement of something great, the players who are as committed as the stars, but whose time in the game is limited to when the Head Coach decides that the outcome is a “done deal” and the bench can neither help nor harm the result. Playing time is “token” for these on the bench. But they are on the team, and they need a coach. Everyone is on one team or another; I coach the ones who want to be on His team. I recruit from the other team. Enough about that.

Naturally, for a blog, my illustrations are metaphorical. I know nothing about ice hockey other than the beer and the bratwurst; therefore, I would never attempt to coach a hockey player whose assignment is the bench. ( I have had my share of being a disciplinarian for hockey players AFTER practice or AFTER the game when they returned to their residence and I was their residence director. But that is different. Nevertheless, it taught me about coaching when I worked at Michigan State for a few years)

I know a little about baseball, and everything I know about baseball I learned from the bench. But what about coaching?

A coach sees a kid (a person, an executive, a professional) who has a glimmer in his eye and a dream in his heart. A coach is someone who watches someone and knows that, somewhere — deep down — there is a longing to be better, to live stronger, to perform more effectively, to lead others. A coach knows something about living, and if he or she can engage another person in dialogue about what many call “the game of life” then the coach can discover what lies within. Once that discovery is made, the coach can move into a position to offer — when the student/performer/player is ready — a strategy for excellence. “If anything is excellent” Paul wrote to the Philippians (4:8) “think about such things.”

In order to someone to be coach-worthy, he or she much be thinking about something better or greater than where he is at present. The bench: there is nothing wrong with the bench unless the bench-warmer is comparing himself to the champion; but there is everything RIGHT with the bench if the bench-warmer is “warming” the bench with dreams of personal excellence. I have coached lots of people during my career (of forty-five years) and some of those I have coached did not even know that they had a dream or a vision for their life. And that is precisely where I start: I do not give them a vision…I elicit a vision.

Once they see something exceeding their present circumstance, and when they visualize themselves in THAT something (vision), we are on our way to helpful coaching. From that point forward there are key coaching strategies (look for these in future blog posts); but it is that point, just sitting there on the bench, that the person being coached becomes coach-worthy. It takes work. It takes a kind of dialectic of movement — some might call it a dance. It takes trust. And it absolutely requires faith. But the thing about faith is that is comes from asking people you don’t know, seeking in places you have never gone before, knocking on unfamiliar doors. And when you are doing this asking and seeking and knocking, you are timid, tentative.

But there comes a point where you pick up the bat and say “I am going to get on base…I may be out when I get there, but I am going to get on base.” That gets the ball rolling.

Our ministry is a coaching ministry. Sometimes people come to us all ready to be coached. Some people come thinking they are ready, but they are wanting to be coached to become something that they were not designed to be. Some people come just looking for a bat. Typically, the bat we offer for the one who is ready to be coached is one item from the list of the armor of God (Ephesians 6). Once one piece is in place, we put on the remaining armor — one piece at a time until it fits. And then — it is off to the game, encouraged, empowered, enthusiastic…and embraced eternally by the One Who keeps us under His wings. Our Creator-Savior-Coach. That is when we begin to learn about “Team Spirit.”

1-770-815-9078 – Coach Bob Harris bharris0623@gmail.com

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