Vince Lombardi. Phil Jackson. Dean Smith. Don Shula. Sparky Anderson. These are the names of great coaches who have led others to great success and supported some individuals through great struggle. Last month’s article shined a spotlight on the common struggle of procrastination. If you had someone in your life that provided the encouragement, accountability, affirmation of your strengths, and highlights of your growth areas, would you be more efficient at accomplishing your goals? Is there someone that you are coaching? Everyone needs “a Barnabas,” and everyone needs “a Timothy.”
Take a moment to think about the life of the Apostle Paul. He was a persecutor of the Church when Jesus spoke to him and told him to go on into the city of Damascus for further instructions. Once in Damascus, Paul became the one other Jews wanted to kill. So, Paul left there and went to Jerusalem. Barnabas introduced Paul (Acts 9) to the other Christ Followers, who were afraid of Paul. The Bible does not tell us how Barnabas and Paul knew each other prior to this introduction. Regardless of the context of their meeting, the introduction of Paul by Barnabas, and the early Church’s acceptance of Paul following this introduction, greatly influenced Paul and his ability to grow as a young follower of Jesus Christ.
After Paul left Jerusalem due to additional threats on his life, Barnabas later went to Paul in Tarsus, and invited him to join the first missionary journey. It is interesting to read the biblical text and notice that Barnabas was mentioned first in Luke’s description of the first missionary journey on four occasions. Yet, Paul is mentioned first twice. Barnabas allowed Paul to speak on Cyprus and to respond to the challenge of a false teacher. Barnabas did not feel the need to always have the spotlight. Rather he was assisting Paul in developing as an early Church leader. It would have been so interesting and fascinating to watch this relationship between Barnabas and Paul develop.
Paul and Barnabas eventually separated their missionary partnership over a disagreement about the priority of taking John Mark. This opened the door for new relationships to develop, including Paul’s relationship with Timothy. Biblically, we meet Timothy in Acts 16 as Paul is leaving for his second missionary journey. Once Paul was in a Roman prison, he wrote letters to Timothy that provided instruction, encouragement, and affirmation of Timothy’s abilities. Unlike the relationship between Barnabas and Paul, in a very real way we do have the opportunity to observe the coaching relationship between Paul and Timothy through Paul’s two letters. Paul taught by his example: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured…” (2 Timothy 3:10–11 niv). Paul encourages Timothy to follow his example and continue in the faith.
What about you? Who is your coach? Who is your student? Do you have someone who helps you define your goals, discover obstacles to achieving those goals, holds you accountable for the steps necessary to achieving those goals, and who provides encouragement to you until you accomplish the goal? What would it be like for you to have a meeting with someone who is going to ask you if you have made progress on your professional goals, your personal goals, your health goals, your relationship goals, and any other goals you want to set? Some people do this informally, and others do it through scheduled meetings with someone that is formally trained in coaching. This is a service that is offered at CareNet Counseling East. Regardless of where you choose to get your coaching, recognize the value of having a coach, and also being a coach. Through having a coach, and being a coach, you will be able to say with Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), and know that you have helped train someone to continue the message.