A Coachee Must Have Potential

April 19, 2013

Since coaching is about drawing skills and character qualities out of the coachee, the coaching process starts with the potential of a coachee. In today’s post I will explain how to tell if a person has potential and why it is important in a coaching relationship.

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Flickr Photo Credit: JefferyTurner

The relationship between the Apostle Paul and Timothy in the New Testament is a model of one leader providing coaching to a young man who had leadership potential. Leadership expert and author, John C. Maxwell comments on this relationship in the Maxwell Leadership Bible writing, “Paul proactively identified a young leader he could develop. He had been to Lystra and seen Timothy. His antennas were up. He insisted his team go back to challenge and invite the young man to join them.” 1 Paul saw something in Timothy which led Paul to believe that Timothy had potential.

While a coach might recognize a young person’s potential for leadership, the coachee does not always see this same potential in himself. The Bible is filled with people who ended their lives as great leaders but who did not initially believe they had potential for leadership. (In my opinion, John MaCarthur’s book, Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You is a perfect example of God choosing great people who had great potential which just needed to be drawn out of them.)

A few of those leaders who did not initially believe they had potential for leadership were:

  • Abraham (what a change in thinking to be infertile but God to tell you that you will lead a great and numerous nation).
  • Moses, who was so insecure in his leadership that he asked God to chose someone else.
  • David, a young shepherd whose potential for leadership was overlooked by his own father who did not invite him to the ceremony where the Prophet Samuel picked the new king.

The most visible example, which will be examined in this post (and in my follow up posts on Christian coaching), is that of the young minister, Timothy. Timothy, the young protégé of the apostle Paul, probably felt much like Moses felt when God told Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. Just as Moses felt inadequate for the task, Timothy probably did too. 2 However, the good news is that

God doesn’t necessarily choose leaders based on their natural talent or ability. Neither does He always choose them based on their age and experience. As Paul tells Timothy, God chooses leaders based on their availability, not their ability; on their willingness to walk in obedience to Him, not their experience. 3

There were many other great leaders Paul could have chosen to coach and develop, but Paul chose Timothy because of his desire to walk in obedience with God. God does not always chose the most skilled, knowledgeable and experienced leader but rather the obedient person. And coaching is the element needed to develop the leader.

Question: Why do you believe a coachee must have potential? What do you believe a person needs to have in order to possess potential?


  1. John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1497.
  2. John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1502.
  3. John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1502.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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