Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Coaching for NARPs

Written by: on June 21, 2019

Not being very athletic, I was not involved in any regular sports programs. My usual interaction with sports teams were observed from the bleachers or the recliner. The idea of a “coach” usually brings vision of a person on the side lines yelling either inspirational things to the team or profanities to a shamed group of people. So thinking of a coach outside a sports metaphor seemed like something that I didn’t want to have anything to do with. I know intellectually that the idea of a coach is someone that should motivate to bring out the best within someone; yet using a sports word continues to bring sports imagery with all the baggage that is attached. Even today our organization is promoting “coaches” and the training that is involved with that. I have been approached to be a coach and know that participating in the training will involve some of my own obstacles to overcome.

Reading Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching1, I was moved to see the value and potential for transformation that could take place with a “coach” that could ask those deep questions and help one process the gaps in leadership that we all have. I have struggled during this program with the journey that the PLDP has brought us through. I was a reluctant participant and usually was a bit grumbly while processing the activities, writing assignments and even the final presentation. I know it is egotistical to think we have it all together. However that is what I often believe. I know it is a bit self deceiving to think that life is as good it gets. As I read about the failed church plant, I began to wonder about the value of coaching for my own life. Leading teams of both those from Asian and the States, I recognize that there are large gaps in the way I lead, the way we strategize and the vision that is cast. I began to reflect on how not only my work but my life could benefit when we become vulnerable with another. In other words, I see that being a coach and having a coach could be a great asset to my life and work.

I believe coaching once trust is built could work on a community minded society like the Chinese. This shame based culture that uses the balancing of any compliment with a negative response has many broken and hurting individuals that do not see their own value. Recently a psychology professor taught a course on individual worth and identity in China. Concepts like “transparency” and “intimacy” are not translatable to Chinese without spending many minutes in developing these concepts. These are not a natural part of collective societies. westerners (like myself) have to overcome our desire to do everything ourselves seeing any else as sign of weakness and a potential doubting of the call on our lives. For Chinese with concepts of state first, family first, and community first, personal growth, and well being are foreign or new ways of thinking. Coaching concepts are needed but there are real cultural obstacles that need to be over time slowly integrated for the formation of young leaders.

I was struck with the apparent simplicity of Chapter 4. Specifically the section on how to create a culture of coaching. As a review here are the main points:

      • Pray.

      • Depend on the Holy Spirit.

      • Be Real.

      • Be An Example.

      • Be patient.

      • Mine for Gold Everywhere and All the Time.

      • Build a Culture of Grace.

      • Allow All The Gifts to Play.2

In team development, change can happen very slowly. I believe all aspects of team development are intentional. This depends on the type of team, the strategy, or the individuals and their gifts placed on a team. We have found the the best team leader is not often the one with the greatest strategic ability rather the one with the most pastoral abilities. What I mean by this is the ability to help navigate personalities and gifts allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through those gifts. The teams that function best do the things on this list. Though they have not read this book they have been led to lean on the Lord while seeking those leaders God is putting in their path. I believe a true leader is not one that leads from the front rather on that allows others to shine. Creating this culture is something that many would love to create if we would allow the Holy Spirit to work within us and those on our team.

If leaders where only born naturally and not called, nurtured, and developed (through both the Holy Spirit and God’s disciples) then I would not have ever considered myself a leader. Healthy vulnerability and authenticity help make a place where God’s can mold and move people in ways open new ideas and possibilities especially to a culture like the Chinese that struggle to open their hearts to what God has to say and minimize what the community would have them do. This concept of coaching is so needed in the context that I live in. We deal with individuals that have not grown up in a “culture of grace” seeing themselves as worthless and unloved. I am planning on seeking out the training that our organization has to develop coaches and begin to utilize these techniques within the climate that I work. Coaching for non athletic regular people (NARP) might be some of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences we all have.

1 Camacho, Tom, MINING FOR GOLD: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching (S.l.: INTER-VARSITY PRESS, 2019).

2 Ibid, 43

About the Author


Greg has a wife and 3 children. He has lived and work in Asia for over 12 years. He is currently the Asia Director of Imanna Laboratories, which tests and inspects marine products seeking US Coast Guard certification. His company Is also involved in teaching and leadership development.

15 responses to “Coaching for NARPs”

  1. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks for sharing your previous experience with coaching and team-sports in general, Greg. I do think that the coaching metaphor is probably one that connects fairly broadly (at least in the US), but I see that for some it won’t be as helpful a way to describe things.
    I did think that you made a particularly good point for your context there when you wrote, “I believe coaching once trust is built could work on a community minded society like the Chinese.” It is interesting that in most US sports team scenarios you don’t really build trust or relationship with a coach up front or beforehand, but really only through the experience, or after it (or maybe never). But I wonder if the role of coach would have to look different in a Chinese situation. Interesting!

  2. Jay Forseth says:


    NARP’s. I love it. Non Athletic Regular People…

    I had the same thoughts you did about coaches, mostly because of sports coaches in my background.

    I was wondering, do they have “spiritual directors” in China? Someone told me this week that in the future they do not think there will be churches, only spiritual directors who personally coach and mentor individuals…

    I think it is a stretch, but it made me think.

  3. Steve Wingate says:

    I have a couple questions about the book you refer to. Whose the beneficiary of mining for gold everywhere and all the time? Then, how does one mine for gold look like when the person has biases they are not aware of?

  4. Great post, Greg!

    I completely understand. I’m glad I’m not the only one a part of NARP. lol

    I only have two memories of being a part of a sport’s team. My first was when I was in high school and I thought I’d try out for volleyball. Let’s just say my face hit the ball more than my fists. The other was during elementary school when all of us were forced to play soccer during recess. The other team was glad that I made a goal for them.

    Do you think your experience colors your idea of coaching now? What are some ways that you would coach people differently?

  5. Kyle Chalko says:

    Great job Greg, I wanted to point out one thing to you that I did learn from my time with coaches and sports in high school. One thing I realized my senior year is that, as I was In a wrestling match I would have dozens maybe 100 people yelling at what was going on. Despite all this voice is coming in, I could always somehow, make out two distinct voices. They were not louder than the rest but I think I just knew their voice so well I could hear it clearly. Of all the voices shouting, I could always hear my dad and my coach.

    This was a little bit of a family joke because my mom was also there screaming at the top of her lungs, but I honestly never really heard her. Ha ha probably because her shouts might’ve been encouraging, but not very helpful on what to do.

    Anyway this reminds me of John 10 which talks about the good shepherd and sheep knowing the voice of the shepherd and the shepherd calling the sheep by name.

  6. Jason Turbeville says:

    NARP love it. Coaches in sports certainly can have a negative connotation. The one thing I would argue is that a good one can take a team, mold them and point them into success. Thanks for all your posts!


  7. Shawn Hart says:

    Would try NARP…non-athletically religious people; but have a feeling no one would show up. Great post Greg. This book was great for giving a new outlook on a very old concept.

  8. Mike says:

    Congratulations on a strong finish to year two with LGP8. PTL!
    Coaching is like counseling I think. Ask Jake. It only works well if the person(s) being coached are willing and participate in the process. How many addicts have you met in your ministry that could use coaching, want coaching, but fail to submit to coaching over their addiction to whatever strong hold the devil has on them?
    I relate to your adjustments and challenges with the collective society you serve in. I failed over and over in Botswana until I got arrested (not really) but served a civil fine for overstaying our visa, going to the police headquarters, sitting on a bench for hours, and waiting until they got good and ready to file the paperwork and take our money. Thankfully, we had transitioned to the culture over the past 4 months and were ready for this experience. Since we were both previous LE members we actually enjoyed the wait, harassment, and eventual friendships and professional relationships we made with the police and immigration officials in a foreign country.
    I like Camacho’s work and relate a lot of his coaching techniques to the short-term pastoral counseling courses I took while at Liberty. The key for the coach, and the counselor, for co-creating solutions, is the Holy Spirit.
    See you in London!

  9. Chris Pritchett says:

    I like how you worked all that out in your post, Greg. It’s interesting that the concept of coaching is something the both you and the Chinese do not initially relate to. Your image of a coach yelling from the sidelines at the players, referee, or parents is a humorous picture that depicts the worst of coaching. The best coaches don’t have to say much from the sidelines because they did their work on the training pitch, walking with the players and helping them one on one and as a team to do their best. I wonder how to apply these concepts in your setting, and I imagine you already are in your sphere.

    • Greg says:

      Chris, I do feel like the Sphere changes and when I start to get comfortable the game changes or the rules do. I appreciate your wise words and encouraging smile.

  10. Dan Kreiss says:


    I love the NARP analogy. I think in terms of Mining for Gold preconceptions about coaching can get in the way. I also believe that his emphasis on developing leadership characteristics in those who don’t seem overtly ready for roles gives God opportunity to work in new ways.

    I would be interested to know how you think these concepts would work in your context.

    It has been great getting to know you through this program. See you in England in a couple months. Until then, happy writing.

    • Greg says:

      I know that I made a point with this blog using some extreme examples. I am not totally opposed to coaching. I do believe with love and care coaching in our context would work well.

  11. Jean Ollis says:

    Greg, I’m with you…the states is way too tied in to the sports coaching phenomenon. While I played sports, it was never a priority. As always, your post is excellent and ties into the authentic and transparent person you are. I didn’t realize how much you disliked the PLDP experiences lol. I will miss weekly interactions with you! Your wisdom and cultural humility is tremendous. I am a better person for knowing you…

    • Greg says:

      Hey Jean, I am a team player (sports analogy intented 🙂 I push through the uncomfortableness that certain task let me experience. I knew the PLDP was good for me in the end…I just resisted it. I so appreciated you and Ron and how you have embraced all of us. Thanks again for your friendship.

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