A cross study of coaching in sports reveals some interesting facts that knowledge, ability, skill, and experience are not always the deciding factors in the best sports players.
Flickr Photo Credit: euthman
Interviews with the most successful soccer coaches shows that they believe “the distinctive factor in the development of a young soccer player is his ‘character’ and ‘attitude’ toward training and games. According to the coaches, a talented soccer player has a ‘drive to succeed’ and an attitude signaling ‘will and perseverance.’” 1 This shows that the individual a coach invests into does not have to be the one who shows the most skill, or who possesses the most experience. Instead coaches should look for the individual who has potential to do great things because of the qualities he possess.
Again, the apostle Paul models this well for Christian leaders everywhere. In the Maxwell Leadership Bible, John C. Maxwell explains that Paul dedicated his life to activities that developed potential leaders who would impact the world for Christ, which included Timothy. The apostle Paul’s relationship to Timothy was unique because Paul took time to write specifically to Timothy (in contrast to his normal practice of writing to churches and regions of believers).
With this information there is good reason to believe that Paul—a man dedicated to making the greatest impact for Christ—believed Timothy was one of his companions who had great potential for helping positively impact God’s kingdom. The potential which Paul saw in Timothy was probably based on what he saw that Timothy already demonstrated a little of, but needed to be drawn out and developed more.
The Apostle Paul reveals in his writings that Timothy already had potential by writing, “I [Paul] remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1:5 NLT). Paul knew that for Timothy to be a leader in the Christian church, Timothy first needed a strong faith.
Paul knew about the qualities that Timothy ha and encouraged those qualities to come out. Paul was drawing that potential out of Timothy by building on what Timothy already possessed 2 because “Timothy had a strong heritage before Paul came along; Paul simply played his role in the process.” 3
Paul was merely building on the qualities which Timothy already had and displaying what strong Christian leaders know: focus on people’s strengths because that is the key to developing people. 4 Paul knew that with some companionship, teaching, and encouragement Timothy could successfully lead the church in Ephesus.
Thankfully, most potential leaders are able to learn, grow, and change if they work with a coach who has the correct set of expectations of them. 5 This is good news!
The coaching process takes time and effort, but the payoff of a developed Christian leader makes the time and effort used to develop that coachee worthwhile. More times than not, you will be able to actively see the results of your coaching labor because most people do have the potential to grow.
Question: What examples have you observed in your life where character and attitude determined someone’s potential?
- Mette Krogh Christiansen, “An Eye for Talent: Talent Identifications and the ‘Practical Sense’ of Top-Level Soccer Coaches,” Sociology and Sport Journal 26 (2009), 376. ↩
- This relates to my post, “What Coaching Is” where coaching is defined as drawing things out of a potential leader instead of merely pouring into or teaching someone. Thus, coaching is defined by the drawing out instead of the pouring in. ↩
- John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1498. ↩
- John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1511. ↩
- Doug Riddle and Sharon Ting, “Leader Coaches: Principles and Issues for In-House Development,” Leadership in Action 26, no. 2 (May/June 2006), 14. ↩