First, I want to thank those of you who have suffered through the first installment of this series. No, there are just some things you can’t make up (nor would I want to). Some of you have suggested that I make comments about greedy, self-serving ministers. Perhaps I will take on an example or two of that misbehavior (which shouldn’t be too hard to find). But, I really want to address a means of ministry that fell right on my Facebook page.
Growing up, coaches were for sports. They were demanding, pushy, and sometimes vulgar. Their task was to instruct and inspire athletes to win contest by any legal means. Christian life was handled by … Christians. They were (and still are) people who strive to be patient, humble, compassionate, and loving. Like Jesus, they were (are) there to guide whosoever will follow.
So, you can imagine that I find the idea of a “Christian Life Coach” as odd as anchovy ice cream. Not that a good priest, pastor, deaconess, or … REAL FRIEND doesn’t coach us from time to time in the ways of our Lord and Savior. But, the coaching that is done by these people is part of the whole of who they are and not the definition of what they do. And maybe that is why one of the world’s best coaches, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, is just a coach. The man knows the game of football (soccer) like few others. But, he is an awfully arrogant man (“I am a European Champion. I am a Special One). Christians can be highly knowledgeable in any field or discipline the Lord allows us to enter. But we cannot be boastful, impatient, cruel, or have other characteristics many secular coaches have been and are.
In the Orthodox world, believers sought (and still seek) out monastics and read the ancient fathers for guidance. I was brought up in a small Baptist church where we all knew and looked out for each other’s best interest. In any religious tradition, there are wise mothers and fathers, elders, and good friends available to walk this Christian journey with. Has our modern, self-absorbed, me-and-my-Bible society grown so cold and isolated that the office of “Christian Life Coach” is a viable option for believers? Are we to recruit and hire such coaches based on winning percentages and how well they recruit new talent? It is bad enough that we are tempted to put priest, pastors, and musicians on pedestals. What coach doesn’t want to be known for greatness?
I am not going to accuse everyone in this “Christian Life Coach” movement of being corrupt. I know of a couple of well-meaning people who are involved in this. In my opinion, we need more real friends than coaches. We need more people who we can be honest and open with and will lovingly tell us when we are on the right path and where we are messing things up. Besides, coaches look to make money from coaching. Real friends are friends because they love you.
Then again, coaches don’t let players on the court, field, or pitch without the right uniform. So if Minister LaTacha Emanuel had a “Christian Life Coach,” she wouldn’t have exposed herself so awfully in the videos I wrote about last time.