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

Coaching Leadership a.k.a. Discipleship

Written by: on June 17, 2019

One does not have to read very far in the Gospels to see Jesus’ methodology of making disciples. Do life together, ask questions, send the disciples to practice, ask questions, give a small amount of teaching, ask questions, model the lesson, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions and not necessarily in that order. We know he was the consummate listener by the questions he asked as he engaged the people and we know he was filled with the Spirit and listened closely for the Father’s instruction.

Author and pastor, Tom Camacho provides a practical and compelling prototype for Coaching Leadership after much of Jesus’ model of discipleship. In Mining for Gold Camacho emphasizes, “Gold is everywhere…Open your eyes to see it…Learn the skills to draw it out…Develop others continuously.”[1] Camacho draws from his military and corporate background to emphasize the need for leadership development. He remembers being impressed by the value placed on development by General Motors and thought if they do that for money, how much more important for the Church to do so for Kingdom leaders? This became his driving motivation and he vulnerably uses his personal story to show the difference coaching can make.

My husband has logged nearly 2,000 coaching hours and is entering the dissertation phase of a Ph.D. in Human Development. I pastored beside him for thirty-eight years and I have never seen him as alive and flourishing as he is now as an executive, life and relationship coach. As he relates stories to me of the transformation taking place in his clients (without ever breaching the confidentiality) I see the light in his eyes and the passion and energy he is living with. His process is to help people discover their uniqueness, transform their perspective and strengthen their new reality.

Through the personal and ministry discoveries my husband and I have encountered in the past decade, we have often discussed how so many churches are missing the point, how we did for years. We turn the purpose of the church upside down and make people about church growth rather than the church being about people growth. The apostle Paul makes it clear that the church is for the maturing of the people for the work of the ministry.[2] Emma Percy says, “We often talk about the church community in terms of a family and this seems an appropriate image, as the family is at best the place in which we grow up, developing the virtues and values that enable us to reach maturity.”[3]

I have personally hired several coaches in the last few years, each with different areas of expertise and tools. One focused specifically on articulating values around each of the key areas of life and work, one focused on a particular leadership issue I was dealing with, and one focused on organizational structure and design. I found each to be particularly helpful although it was evident when the coach used a formulaic approach rather than a more individual relationship posture and the outcomes were limited.

My husband often describes most of us pastors as “addicted tellers” and finding the ability to coach and ask questions ,allowing the client to set the agenda, is a challenge for many. Camacho emphasizes relationship, deep listening, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit allowing the leader to own his/her growth. “People who have been loved and empowered are happier, more positive and more confident…Love and respect are the foundations of empowerment…”[4] I deeply appreciated the metaphor of people being like clay on a potter’s wheel which is a critical reminder about the role of leaders in the lives of the people who trust us with their vulnerability and maturing process, “The people around us are like clay pots, being fashioned with care and purpose on God’s potter’s wheel. He is continuously molding and shaping them. He is fashioning them into vessels He can use. In Coaching Leadership we become like the fingers of God, in close contact with the lives of people as God shapes them for His purposes. God is doing the molding and shaping but He is using us in His processes.[5] It is critical that the first person we lead in this is ourselves so that we are safe for others.

Coaching Leadership a.k.a. discipleship, could bring about a radical transformation in the church if we would have the abundance mentality Camacho encourages and spiritual leaders would take Jesus’ words to heart, “So wherever you go, make disciples…”[6]

[1] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019), 5-6.

[2] Ephesians 4:11-16 NET

[3] Emma Percy, What Clergy Do: Especially When it Looks Like Nothing (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2014), 16.

[4] Camacho, 25.

[5] Ibid., 13.

[6] Matthew 28:19 (NOG)

About the Author

Tammy Dunahoo

Tammy is a lover of God, her husband, children and grandchildren. She is the V.P. of U.S. Operations/General Supervisor of The Foursquare Church.

8 responses to “Coaching Leadership a.k.a. Discipleship”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Thanks Tammy. I love mentoring leaders. After 30 years it is my happy space. I’d give pastoral ministry away tomorrow to spend time listening to young leaders navigate complex times. It is the “seeing and listening with clarity” that is most demanding. I am also finding that the outcomes of these sessions are always unique. Every person and context is so different, and the lessons learned and answers discovered are exciting. Though not always thrilling. Sometimes we are mentoring in the valley of death. As time has rolled on I have bigger and bigger questions around discipleship. It’s not a verb found in scripture and the nature of the verb tends to have meaning associated with tradition and baggage. So I’m thinking that mentoring as disciple forming needs be culturally and contextually flexible. All too often it’s not. I have a staff member who lives in the past, hates change and cannot see why context matters. Mentoring this person is a challenge as much of it is dealing with fear.

  2. Rhonda Davis says:

    Thanks, Tammy. Your generous view of ministry leadership is refreshing. Perhaps if we all viewed life in Jesus as one to be given away, we would find ourselves doing more coaching and less pushing.

  3. Sean Dean says:

    Tammy your perspective here is great in that you have, apparently, been on all sides of the coaching paradigm. It’s easy to discount something you haven’t seen working and your perspective helps to show coaching working. Thank you.

  4. Hi Tammy,
    I feel like the church sometimes misses a big part of the “Great Commission” — that discipling part. Yes, we’ve got the evangelization part, preaching the good news, but somehow we’re not so sure about discipleship, especially how that’s taught and modeled in the church.

    I’ve often wondered if every believer simply tried to disciple one person a year? And each one commit to doing that, just one per year. How would our community, nation and world look after 10 years?

    I picked up on Camacho’s admonition toward the end of his book, that church leaders ought to have some kind of leadership program at our local churches that emphasize the learning outcomes in his book. I’m convinced he’s right about that.

  5. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I look forward someday getting to know your husband. I would love to hear from both of you how a coaching perspective might have significantly changed your leadership style within the churches you pastored. Your love for the church and an appreciation for developing pastors and leaders within local churches always inspires me. Have a blessed Summer and see you in London!

  6. Tammy, you help bring out the power of coaching in multiplication of leaders and how effective it is in helping to bring out the best in ourselves and in others. It’s no wonder that Jesus asked Simon Peter thrice, whether he loved him as he emphatically instructed him to feed the flock. As leaders, this is a great lesson to learn on how to coach as we are lead of 5(3 Holy Spirit.

  7. Mary Mims says:

    Tammy, I appreciate your view on this subject and thank you for the coaching you provided me. I have been thinking about hiring a coach to get more direction. This has brought clarity for me and you are right, coaching should be a part of the disciple-making process.

  8. Shermika Harvey says:

    Tammy, this post resonates with me so well since, though not as many years as you but I have been walking alongside my husband during his mentoring and coaching as well. It is wonderful to hear and see the transformation in those we mentored and even growth within ourselves. Relating coaching to discipleship is also a great concept. Do you have any suggestions on how we can make these two concepts of leadership. coaching and discipleship making more cohesiveness in this upcoming generation of leaders?

Leave a Reply