Every superintendent needs a coach. A coach is needed, not because we are having trouble, but because we want to succeed to an even greater degree. A coach is needed, not because we don’t know the rules of the game, but because the rules only set the boundaries of the playing field. A coach is helpful because we cannot watch ourselves and play the game with our whole attention. A coach who watches from the sidelines can help us see the opportunities to improve and find a “win.”
The superintendent serves as a fulcrum for the effectiveness and fruitfulness of the church. When a superintendent is functioning best, she or he creates a point of leverage for lay and clergy leaders to become more fruitful in fulfilling the mission of the church. A coach can help us find our best point of leverage and help us stay focused.
While all superintendents are also pastors, the work of a pastor does not provide complete preparation for the role of superintendent. The tasks that allow a pastor to thrive and succeed in leading one church, are several orders of magnitude different from superintending 60 to 160 churches spread over a large geographic area. The pressures coming down from regional and denominational leaders are delivered through the Office of the Superintendent. Transmitting those pressures and initiatives effectively is spiritual discipline, art and science mixed with a healthy dose of love. A coach can help us sort out thinking, being and practice for this new and completely different role.
Superintendents receive a few days of training at the beginning of their appointment, the collegial support of Bishops and other Superintendents, and many opportunities for continuing education. Those opportunities may just help us figure out how to do what we are already doing better, faster and stronger, when we need to figure out the new and different things we need to do to achieve better results. A coach can help us discern the opportunities and achieve the focus that is required for a fruitful superintendency.
A coach is a very significant investment of time and money. It is also one of the most effective investments you can make to help you fulfill the highest calling in leading your churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.