It’s all about the stories.
When life is hard, stories remind us that we’re not alone. They tell us that life can be good. They inspire and empower us to seek God’s Kingdom. And, through stories, we see the work of God.
I’ve known some incredible stories of people walking alongside and reaching out to others. The Garretts comforted a family experiencing the unbearable loss of a child. Chad listened to a young man talk about how he wished his life was different. Casey cared deeply for adults with special needs. Timmy and Erin connected with families at their daughter’s school. Rick and Alice helped some in a homeless community journey closer to Jesus. Mike and Christine played board games long into the night to build relationships with their neighbors. Mike led a woman to Christ at the convenience store.
Through stories, we see the work of God.
And then there is Ted and Tami’s story. They longed to see the beauty, justice, and good news of Jesus saturate their small town. Months turned into years as they prayed, fasted, and sought the Lord’s guidance. They often asked, “How long does it take? When will we see a breakthrough? What is the best way to show the people in our town that Jesus cares so deeply for them?”
They were doing the slow and often grueling work of building relationships through meals, birthday parties, community events, and workplace conversations. Eventually, they began to see the seeds of their work sprouting. Lines started to form, connecting between all the seemingly random dots. Their hope and faith in Jesus were strong, and now they are beginning to see the truth of John 5:17 come alive: “My Father is always working, and so am I” (NLT).
Slow Is the New Fast
Stories like these remind us that we need to activate the full body of Christ to see cities brought into God’s Kingdom. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we want everything, and we want it now. Our culture has conditioned us for on-demand food, relief, entertainment, information, updates, commerce, etc. It’s no wonder most people balk at taking months or years to help someone live into the masterpiece God created them to become.
Stories remind us that we need to activate the full body of Christ to see cities brought into God’s Kingdom.
However, we have to do the slow, hard work of building relationships so that we can speak into the lives of others. We have to wait on Holy Spirit for direction and seek God first. The ongoing equipping and coaching of everyday leaders is therefore critical for several reasons:
- Leaders need support. Coaches provide consistent prayer over leaders and offer encouragement to build them up. They are also available to give guidance when situational issues arise.
- Leaders need to be challenged. Without someone asking them hard questions, leaders can get stuck in their comfort zones. Coaches challenge them to live intentionally by asking introspective and guiding questions. If we want leaders to move forward, there must be someone holding them accountable for their next steps.
- Leaders need growth. None of us have “arrived.” Everyone has room to grow. Coaches offer leaders tools, resources, and training that take their leadership skills to the next level. More importantly, coaches challenge them to become more like Jesus.
Leaders need to flourish in all areas of their life: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. Wholeness and health in all areas are essential. A leader can flourish spiritually but struggle emotionally. Coaching and equipping can prompt them to thrive in all areas. Plus, everyone needs coaching, including the coaches themselves.
A Sample Coaching Model
A few years ago, we started with one-to-one coaching but quickly realized that it was not scalable or the primary way that Jesus equipped. Most often, Jesus was with groups of people (3, 12, 72, etc.). Since we transitioned to coaching groups, we have seen multiple benefits, such as:
- A place to talk about and process mission and next steps
- Thought-provoking questions
- New tools and resources
- New ideas and perspectives
- Reminders to think beyond ourselves
- Perseverance to break through barriers
- Camaraderie with like-minded missionaries
Our coaching groups can meet in person or virtual, and we let leaders choose the frequency. Typically, there is one coach for every four to eight leaders. During the 90-minute sessions, we review last month’s action steps and create new ones for the next month. In addition, we share stories of the Holy Spirit’s movement, address challenges, and discuss helpful tools and resources.
And so, we end where we began. Stories. If you want to be storytellers of the movement of God, you must have healthy leaders who are continually equipped, coached, and challenged. Figure out what your leaders need, the best way to get it to them, and make it happen. You won’t regret it, and the harvest of stories will blow you away.