Tag Archives: coaching

31-Day Writing Challenge—Day 7 :: Encourage


Since May, I’ve been talking with a coach each month. Since June, my wife has been fighting a myriad of health problems that have consumed us.

I entered into the coaching relationship intending to gain perspective and assistance in leading forward in the church I pastor—an historic church (it predates Abraham Lincoln’s presidency!) in the heart of California Gold Country. Since moving to this beautiful area a little over three years ago, I’ve come to realize how hard it is to be new here: in one gathering of parents of high schoolers, one parent introduce herself by saying, “we’ve only lived here three generations.” In fact, as one who has moved often throughout my life, I can say with great confidence that this is the hardest area to be new that I have ever lived in. And I know people who have lived here for fifteen or twenty years who still feel new.

Another realization I had shortly after becoming pastor: never before in my life have I even been part of a church with only one pastor and with fewer than sixty people—much less a church that is 80% over age 65. To say it’s been hard is an understatement. And don’t even get me started on the added challenges of the past eighteen months.

Back to coaching. Since early July my coach, formerly a pastor and church planter for thirty years, has started our phone calls with a question: How’s your wife? Answering that question—and airing all the difficulties and sorrows of her health and its impact on me, our family, and leadership—has consumed our calls. And in that, my coach has consoled, commiserated, and encouraged. It’s been good, but it hasn’t been what I would call “strategic.” It hasn’t helped me navigate the challenges of leading this church.

Or has it? Today I shared some of these thoughts. I said that as my wife’s health has stabilized and improved recently, it’s probably time to get into the real coaching. My coach heard my gratitude for the encouragement and he heard my desire to begin thinking strategically again. We made a start in that.

And somewhere in the conversation a light went on. I realized that maybe the listening, caring, and encouraging was just what I needed in order to stay in the leadership game over these past few difficult months. Maybe I didn’t need someone asking me about a strategic plan or Fall Kickoff or how to better care for a bunch of comfortable older women in church. Maybe the encouragement was strategic.

I’m not as natural an encourager as some are, as my coach is. But maybe there’s a lesson I can learn as I try to lead my church forward into new ways of thinking and being: encouragement is strategic.

This entry is part of the 31-Day Writing Challenge 2021 from Five Minute Friday.

Why I Coach Girls


girl soccerThe easiest answer, of course: I have two daughters of my own, and I coach girls because of them. But there’s a bigger answer, too.

When I was a young husband looking forward to having kids, I wanted girls. I was grateful and excited when our first child—a boy—was born, but I was also afraid he’d turn out just like me…the difficult, strong-willed, challenging me. After all, that would have been an answer to my mom’s prayer: that her kids would have children just like them. (When I found that out, I quoted Scripture to her: “bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.”)

When my daughters were born (four years apart), I was again grateful and excited. So many people assured me that girls are much easier to raise than boys. I thought the hardest challenge would be learning to braid their hair, and that my biggest fears wouldn’t come until they started dating…in about thirty years!

Then I started learning about things I’d never considered before. Sexting. Cyberbullying. Cutting Date rape. And the big one: human trafficking. My daughters were 10 and 7 when I learned of a young girl kidnapped at her school bus stop and held as a sex slave for 18 years before being rescued. She was 11 when the world collapsed around her. She had two daughters while in captivity. And she’d been snatched less than fifty miles from our home.

I’ve coached my youngest daughter’s soccer teams since she was eight. Over the course of those five seasons I’ve coached nearly sixty girls from 8-13. If you thought getting a daughter through puberty was challenging, just look up some of the statistics for that age range; they’re frightening.

My coaching won’t prevent these girls from being abused. I can’t protect them from the stranger who wants to snatch them as they walk home from school, or from the “nice boy” with roving hands. What I can do, though, is try to build their strength, both emotionally and physically. I can help them run faster and kick harder.

I can value them and show them respect. I can help them find their voice, whether that means calling across the field to a teammate or calling for help when they’re in trouble. Or even if it just means listening to them.

I can encourage and help these girls accomplish what they may never have accomplished before, whether it’s playing a soccer game, scoring a goal, or leading a team.

Why do I coach girls? Because maybe—just maybe—one of them will someday have the strength, courage, voice, and wisdom to rock someone’s world. Or even to change the world.

Go get ’em, girls!