Player or Coach?

When I was younger, and even now, I have always liked to play sports. I started off with T ball at our local Ruritan Club, and then went on to play football and soccer when I was in high school. Even now I play soccer on a regular basis, although I usually can’t walk for a few days afterwards. One of the things that I remember about all the sports that I played was that we always had a coach and the coach always showed us what to do and how to play. That was his job and ours was to do what he said and play the game the best that we could. I have noticed a huge similarity between these two positions in sports, and one of two positions that many take when it comes to the ministry. Many, if not most, are more like a player. They are in the game, doing the work, preaching, teaching, visiting, and just about any other job that comes up. On the other hand there is a  small group of people who are more like coaches, that focus on showing and training others how to do ministry. While both of these positions and ideas are important, I have found out that as a missionary, and maybe in the ministry in general, it may not be as easy as choosing which position you are going to play.
One of the things that has become very obvious to me since I arrived in Bolivia is that ministry, done correctly, is a lot of work. Not only that, but as a missionary you are basically playing two different positions at the same time. As our ministry has begun to grow and advance, I find myself needing to spend more and more time as a coach, meeting with new pastors that we have, and even some of the Bible college students that are preparing for the ministry. The difficulty is that I can’t just do just one or the other. I have to continue being a player as we start the new church, and coach as more and more pastors are being prepared for the ministry. This is a great challenge but a great joy at the same time and really what the ministry is all about. Our ultimate goal with the church that we are starting, is to have people trained that can can take over those responsibilities but even when that happens, we will be looking at starting all over again. As these responsibilities continue to grow more and more, I have had to learn a few important lessons to be able to do both. Not that I am perfect at it, or even that it has gotten easier, but here are a few things that might help.

Plan your Time Well
I have heard the story many times and even experienced it, you spend all day long working and even though you are very busy, at the end of the day you don’t have much to show for your work. It seems as if you haven’t accomplished anything. One of the keys to overcome this, is to plan your time and tasks well. You should have a schedule with specific times that you are going to dedicate to getting your work done. The other key aspect to this plan is to schedule to do the right things, or most important things. At the end of the day you should take some time to look at your calendar, and to do list, and choose two or three of the most important things that you need to get done and plan a time that you are going to get them done the next day. If you don’t accomplish anything else, you can feel accomplished that you got those things done and made progress towards your goals.

Focus on Whats Most Important
There are many things that are important and need to be done in the church but the key is to focus on what is most important.
For example, visiting the sick is very important, but spending time with a future pastor might be a better investment. Someone has to clean and decorate the church but if someone else can do it, you might be better off to have a training time for teachers. When it seems like you have more to do than you can get done, you should invest your time in the things that will give the best return on your investment. If you focus on the work of a player you might be able to win people one by one but if you spend time training someone to reach others then the process turns into multiplication.

Never Loose Sight of Your Purpose
As missionaries, even though we have to do the work of a pastor as we start a church, we should never loose touch with our main purpose. Our main goal as missionaries is to train pastors and leaders, not be pastors. One of the dangers that every missionary faces is to get caught up with all the activities and responsibilities of the church and forget about training leaders and pastors. When you first start a church there is a great desire to see the church grow. You can spend a lot of time trying to get people to come to church, visiting them, and calling them, all of which are good things, but the only problem is that the church does not really begin to grow until we teach our people to reach others and train leaders to train others. So when we focus on that which is most important, we will be able to accomplish both of these tasks, but in a more effective way. So don’t get caught up being just a player or just a coach but as you do both, focus on the most important things which is preparing others to serve the Lord.

Kevin White
Missionary to Bolivia
www.operationbolivia.com

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