The Coach as Servant

joelby Joel Comiskey

What is the essence of coaching? If you had to sum up coaching in one word, what would it be? Which word would you choose?

I’d choose the word servanthood. It seems to me that the bedrock foundation for coaching is servanthood.
The coach is the servant. The coach is trying to place the coachee in the driver’s seat. The coach doesn’t lord over the leader but attempts to wash his or her feet.
Servanthood requires doing whatever it takes to make the coachee successful. The best way to do this is through listening, asking questions, encouragement, and challenging the leader to fulfill his or her vision. Yet, the coach should not hesitate to use other instruments in the toolbox, always focusing on the question, “How can I serve the leader?”

I’ve learned that I have to do what it takes to make the coachee successful. I’ve termed this concept “throwing out the rulebook” or put more positively, “using everything in the toolbox.” This is probably the most important discovery I’ve made about coaching.

I’ve discovered that sometimes I have to confront and challenge. Other times, I listen to their concerns about cell church, ministry in general, or personal struggles. I have found that there are times when I need to tell the coachee to go back and re-read a book that has all the answers to his or her concerns. I’ve learned to create new approaches as circumstances arise.

I have found that I have to bring my entire self to the table when coaching. I’m not just focusing on one aspect of my life but the entire spectrum (e.g., personality, upbringing, cell experience, and knowledge). Whatever I can draw from, I use. I’m not just pulling out my PowerPoints, my cell notes, or coaching rules; I’m giving my entire self.

What brings it all together is the concept of servanthood. The coach does what it takes and uses whatever tool necessary to build up the coachee and make him or her more fruitful.

Are you in agreement that servanthood is the essence of coaching? Why or why not?

Joel Comiskey

4 thoughts on “The Coach as Servant

  • I think servanthood is vital to all ministry, including coaching (listening, encouraging, challenging and more).

    Re: “I’ve learned that I have to do what it takes to make the coachee successful.” Would you please define successful?

    This is a new role for me and I appreciate your articles.

  • I started reading this blog entry assuming you were talking about a coach over cell group leaders and their groups, and the advice certainly pertains to that role as well… but my thinking is that this is about coaching pastors of churched doing cells or transitioning to cells, right?

    Either way, it’s good stuff and servanthood needs to be job #1!

  • Hi Bill, you asked, PLEASE DEFINE SUCCESSFULL.
    Bill, I believe the goal of the cell model is to make disciples who make disciples. Thus, the ultimate goal of the cell coach is to fulfill the great commission through helping the leaders prepare cell members to become team members or cell leaders who start new groups. However, to get to that point, the cell coach needs to make sure the cell leader is healthy spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically. This requires care, listening, development, challenging, etc.

    The same is true on a pastoral level. Although I’d like to coach a pastor to become a healthy, reproducing cell church (making disciples who make disciples), sometimes as coach, I’m first helping the pastor understand the cell model or even work through family issues. Because of this, I have a lot of pre-work to arrive at that place where the pastor can make disciples who make disciples.

    AGAIN, the role of servanthood is key throughout. . .

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