As a brainy, uncoordinated child I had little use for sports. In the sixth grade, though, my best friend introduced me to basketball, and it was love at first bounce. I played a year of rec ball, during which I had to shoot my free throws granny-style because my spindly arms weren’t used to such physical exertion. I played two years on my school team, improving my shooting and becoming a tenacious defender. I was an anxious ball-handler, though, and ball management is a big part of the job description when you’re 4’10.” I decided I was a better student of the game than player, and I spent my high school years keeping statistics for the team and filing the occasional scouting report about an upcoming opponent. I loved every moment in that role, and I set my sights on becoming a basketball coach. I read basketball theory and biographies of great coaches and used all of my tv time during the season to break down games. When I graduated from high school, my coach gave me the whiteboard he used to diagram plays for the team and his well wishes for my coaching journey.
Needless to say, this coaching journey took a turn. God got tired of whispering in my ear about a call to ministry and started yelling and banging pots and pans. I stored the whiteboard in the attic and turned my attention to scripture, history, polity, classical languages, and psychology. I went to seminary. I began ministering in congregations, hospitals, and domestic violence shelters. I was never sorry that Pat Summitt didn’t have to watch over her shoulder for me. But in 2010 I was introduced to the concept of ministry coaching and contracted with a seasoned minister who asked questions that brought out the best in me. I was soon more effective, more joyful, more confident as a minister. And when I was offered the opportunity to become a coach myself, I jumped at it.
Ministry coaching isn’t quite like basketball coaching. I do much more listening and asking than yelling and telling. But I love every moment in this role too, and it is a privilege to walk alongside coachees as they build on their fundamentals and discover their own tenacity.