Man’s Relational Needs: “It is not good for man to be alone” Gen 2:18, NIV
Needs Training (Discipleship): ”All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” -2 Tim 3:16-17
Needs Fulfilled (Coaching): Paul instructs the Ephesian Church to be:“…built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.” Eph 4:12-13
In “Don’t Walk Alone” (Part #1), we introduced the 5th Spiritual Law. That is, “From eternity past, God created man with ‘relational needs’. According to His plan, mature fruit is produced when His Spirit, through people, supplies (and re-supplies) nutrients to meet these needs” (Gen2). In Part #2, we see His Spirit equipping men to recognize “what” nutrients are needed to produce healthy fruit. The nutrients that we give and receive are found in God’s Law and character. In Part #3, we see “how” God’s Spirit energizes coaches to re-fuel people to continue to produce healthy fruit. Part #3 is about how we coach people until “all attain the whole measure of the fulness of Christ”. (Eph 4:13)
In 1670, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) described the God-shaped spiritual vacuum inside each man (Pensees, pg 113.) Three hundred and fifty years later, Drs John Townsend and Henry Cloud identify a similar man-shaped relational vacuum in man. Citing 2008 studies by Cacioppo and Patrick (Loneliness: Human Nature and the need for Social Connection), Townsend and Cloud write,
“Longitudinal studies have proven over and over that without significant supportive relationships, we have more psychological dysfunctions, we have more health problems and we die sooner.” (Townsend & McCloud, People Fuel, p29. Emphasis added)
Coaching, Gardening and Relational Nutrients. At the Jan’20 Men’s Breakfast at Prescott Christian Church, Daniel Blake spoke on coaching, gardening and soil nutrients from Jesus’ vineyard parable in Luke’s gospel (Lk 13: 6-9).
Then he (Jesus) gave them this parable: “Once upon a time a man had a fig-tree growing in his garden, and when he came to look for the figs, he found none at all. So he said to his gardener, ‘Look, I have come expecting fruit on this fig-tree for three years running and never found any. Better cut it down. Why should it use up valuable space?’ And the gardener replied, ‘Master, don’t touch it this year till I have had a chance to dig round it and give it a bit of manure. Then, if it bears after that, it will be all right. But if it doesn’t, then you can cut it down.’” (JB Phillips)
Daniel, who is an international agricultural expert, stressed how plants depend on nutrients that they do not produce. Plants need essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, sodium, boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and nickel or they die. Soil experts, like Daniel, study soils to learn the nutrients that exist and the nutrients that are missing. Yavapai County, for example, has 60+ soil types. Healthy fruit is produced when gardeners supplement soils with missing nutrients. Growers know the soil type, the water content, the sun exposure, the microbial content and carefully add missing nutrients.
Like soil experts, Godly coaches understand what is needed. Equally important, their spiritual maturity and experience helps them apply nutrients effectively. Coaching people to produce fruit requires disciple-training to understand what Law or character element to apply. Coaching also requires expertise to know how to feed it. In short, coaches (like gardeners) add the right relational nutrient in the right manner to produce healthy fruit.
Good coaches balance grace and truth. In discipleship we learn truth (i.e., God’s Law and character). As coaches, we practice Christlikeness. People fruit is grown in soils with liberal amounts of grace, love, acceptance, hope, faith, empathy and acceptance … and truth. Coaching is about empathy, insight and experience. Good coaches understand the soil of a person’s heart before applying nutrients.
One day, a newlywed wife wanted to surprise her husband by fertilizing all of the greenery in their new apartment. She went to the local nursery and purchased a bottle of fish emulsion. The nursery gardener assured her that the product was perfect for her plants. When the husband returned home that evening, his wife excitedly met him at the door. She showed him how carefully she had placed a small dollop of the fish nutrient at the base of each plant. By this time, however, the stems had become jaundiced. They had begun to curl. The husband hugged his wife … and simultaneously began removing the full-strength fertilizer from the base of each plant. Then he added the fertilizer to a Tupperware, diluted it to the proper strength, and re-applied it to the plants. The lesson: Both “what” is needed and “how” it is applied are essential to producing healthy fruit!
Summary: The 5th Spiritual Law Summary
- The “who” of faith. Jesus is the “who” is faith. Jesus builds the bridge of forgiveness between God and me. Jesus is Savior.
- The “what” of faith. Disciples dissect, inspect and grasp “what” produces faith and fruit. Healthy fruit is produced as we apply God’s Law and Character. Jesus is Lord. Disciples apply relational nutrients (i.e., God’s Law and Character) to life.
- The “how” of faith. God’s Spirit empowers God’s people to produce fruit. Coaches learn “how” to apply God’s Law and character (i.e., relational nutrients) to real life situations. Using mature faith (faith+experience), coaches skillfully give and receive relational nutrients to meet growth needs and produce fruit.
“Coaching” as a legacy: Miraculously, God’s Spirit sources gifted men, with the right nutrient gifts, to fill relational voids at the right time. These men are coaches. Coaches are men (and women) with honed Christlike skills. Their openness and empathetic manner relate to others. They get it and give it! They are wise stewards of Jesus’ grace and truth. They have stumbled and recovered. They are committed disciples who understand what nutrients from God’s Law and Character are needed for fruit. They are wise gardeners who apply the right nutrients to people to produce the best fruit.
Chuck Swindoll, pastor, teacher and Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, was once asked what he admired most in a coach. He answered, “Modeled Grace” and told this true story.
Pastor Chuck and Tom Landry served together on the Board for Dallas Theological Seminary (“DTS”) in the 1970s. During that tenure, one of the most heinous coaching incidents in college football occurred. Woody Hayes, the outspoken and fiery Ohio State coach who had amassed five national football championships and thirteen Big Ten titles, slugged Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman after his game ending interception of an Ohio State pass at the 1978 Gator Bowl. The punch ended Coach Hayes football coaching career. He was disgraced and incurred the wrath of the NCAA, the public and every media pundit. Humiliated and shunned, Hayes retreated in shame from fans and the public eye.
Sometime later, Tom Landry receive an invitation to a very prestigious banquet. Although Landry would normally have taken his wife, Alicia, he decided to invite Woody Hayes instead. At the next DTS Board Meeting, Swindoll questioned Landry about his decision. Landry replied, “I figured since everybody else was beating up on Woody, he needed somebody to put an arm around him and tell him he still loved him.” Landry’s “modeled grace” lifted Hayes out of his shame and silenced his tormentors.
Coaches do more than care. They model grace and truth. Just as empathy means more than seeing the need, coaching means modeling grace by doing something.