top of page

Philippians 3:12-14

Jesus as a Coach

by Dale Roach

Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 – “I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This is the basis of what coaches do.

Gary R. Collins, in his book, Christian Coaching embraced this idea when he wrote,

“Do you think Jesus used coaching with his disciples? He was a role model to them, showed them the way to go, observed their progress, corrected their misunderstanding, and gently encouraged them to go out on their own. Like any good coach, he gave them feedback and reevaluated their performances. He encouraged them but he also redirected them when they needed correction.” (page 32)

It is easy to think of Jesus as a leader, a servant, and a teacher. However, can you see Jesus as a coach?

What exactly is a coach?

There are many different models of coaching. However, there has never been a model of coaching like Jesus?

The New Testament shows that Jesus was the coach and facilitator of twelve men that he was helping to teach about the Kingdom of God.

Coaching is a process that aims to improve the performance and goals of other people.

For the Christian coach, it not only focuses on the present but also looks into the future, for the expansion of the Kingdom. When Jesus recruited his first disciples who fished for a living, he said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of me.” (Matthew 4:19)

There is a vast difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn. Jesus was an expert at this. In coaching others, Jesus helped the individual to improve their ministry skills by asking questions.

Good coaches ask great questions. Jesus was an expert at asking questions. Here are nine basic questions that Jesus asked his disciples as he coached them.

1 – Jesus as a Coach Addresses the Subject of Doubt

Asking questions about doubt can help create an environment of right answers. A person who does not experience doubt in the Christian faith at some time or another is not taking their faith seriously.

Doubt is not the opposite of faith. It is an element to help grow faith.

Doubt can be understood as a good catalyst when handled as Jesus addressed it.

Here are a few questions of Jesus about the subject of doubt:

Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)

Why are you testing me? (Matt 22:18)

My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)

You are a teacher in Israel, and you do not understand this? (John 3: 10)

If I tell you about earthly things and you will not believe, how will you believe when I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3: 12)

2 – Jesus as a Coach Asked, “Do You Understand?”

Being able to ask questions are the skills of all great coaches.

Jesus once asked, “Do you not yet understand?” (Matthew 16:9).

Jesus asked almost 100 questions when he was coaching his disciples?

The goal of his questions were to coach his disciples in how to respond to the questions themselves.

Here is a list of “how,” “what,” “where” and “who” questions Jesus asked others to respond to.

These type of questions will lead people to give some thought to their answers and provide more information.

How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and take hold of his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? (Matt 12:29)

How many loaves do you have? (Matt 15:34)

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)

How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)

How many baskets full of leftover fragments did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)

Salt is good, but what if salt becomes flat? (Mark 9:50)

What king, marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king marching upon him with twenty thousand troops? (Luke 14:31)

If therefore you are not trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:11)

For who is greater, the one seated a table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)

How does you concern affect me? (John 2:4)

How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the approval that comes from God? (John 5:44)

Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (John 6:5)

Woman where are they, has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)

What concern is it of yours? (John 21:22)

3 – Jesus as a Good Coach Asked, “What Do You Want?” (Matt 20:32)

This question is a strong coaching question of Jesus.

It places the responsibility of the answer strongly into the hands of the one being coached.

Laziness and a disconnect will take place if someone else is doing everything. However, when someone needs the help of another stronger and wiser, this question must be asked.

To assume we know what someone wants from us without asking can lead a coach/leader in dozens of directions.

Matthew chapter 20 gives more details about the question above:

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

4 – Jesus as a Coach Asked Questions From the Bible

Assuming that those we lead have a clear understanding of the scriptures is a mistake.

Many pastors and congregations make decisions and lead their fellowships in new directions without a scriptural foundation.

On many occasions, Jesus coached his followers and his doubters to consider what the scriptures had to say about a particular subject. A good coach will do the same.

Here are a few examples –

Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)

And why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matt 15:3)

What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)

What is written in the law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)

If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)

5 – Jesus as a Coach Asked “Why?” Questions

One the signs of a great coach is their ability to ask “why” questions.

This type of question will cause the one being coached to provide the answer.

Jesus was an expert at challenging those who followed him to respond to questions when he asked:

  1. Why are you thinking such things in your heart? (Mark 2:8)

  2. Why are you anxious about clothes? (Matt 6:28)

  3. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matt 7:3)

  4. Why are you afraid? (Matt 8:26)

  5. Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Matt 9:4)

  6. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matt 19:17)

  7. Why do you brother this woman? (Matt 26:10)

  8. Why all this commotion and weeping? (Mark 5:39)

  9. Why does this generation seek a sign? (Mark 8:12)

  10. Why were you searching for me? (Luke 2:49)

  11. Why do you call me ‘Lord’ and do not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)

  12. Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)

  13. Why are you trying to kill me? (John 7:19)

  14. Why do you not understand what I am saying? (John 8:43)

Jesus had a strategy of asking “why” questions that created a process of deep thinking.

6 – Jesus as a Coach Asked Faith Questions

Jesus engaged people in a coaching way that examined their faith.

He did this by asking questions that made them search their hearts for the answer. He knew that faith was weak without the person knowing what they believed in their hearts, not the hearts of others.

Here are the questions that Jesus asked about faith:

  1. Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)

  2. What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)

  3. What are you thinking in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)

  4. If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)

  5. If I am telling you the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46)

  6. Have you come to believe because you have seen me? (John 20:29)

  7. Does this shock you? (John 6:60-61)

7 – Jesus as a Coach Asked “Do You” Questions

Jesus often asked questions of those he coached by asking “do you” questions.

  1. Do you realize what I have done for you? (John 13:12)

  2. Do you also want to leave me? (John 6:65-67)

  3. Do you have your own idea or is that someone else’s idea? (John 18:34)

  4. Do you love me? (John 21:16)

  5. Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)

  6. Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)

  7. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)

  8. Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)

  9. Do you think I can call on my Father’s power? (Matt 26:53)

A “do you” question will require the one being coached to provide the answer.

8 – Jesus as a Coach Asked, “What Are You Discussing With Other People?”

A good coach asks the right questions.

A productive coach encourages a person’s development as a thinker.

The values of other people and their opinions are recognized by excellent coaches. Here are four questions that Jesus asked of his disciples.

  1. What are you discussing as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)

  2. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matt 16:13)

  3. But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)

  4. What were you arguing about on the way? (Mark 9:33)

9 – Jesus as a Coach Asked “What Are You Trying to Find?”

Helping someone discover what they are looking for is essential for every good coach.

Everyone is looking for something in life.

A healthy coach can help those they lead in finding things that mean the most to them. Jesus asked –

  1. What are you looking for? (John 1:38)

  2. What did you go out to the desert to see? (Matt 11:7-8)

  3. Whom are you looking for? (John 18:4)

  4. Do you have eyes and still not see? Do you have ears and do not hear? (Mark 8:17-18)

Here are just a few more thoughts when you think of Jesus as a coach.

“Jesus had vision and purpose, but he wasn’t a dominator and he wasn’t trying to build team-consensus. He had an incrdible awareness of each disciple’s individual personality, potential for impact, and likely points of failure. He guided his team along like a good basketball coach – maximizng their strengths, giving encouragement, exposing them to different experiences, and modifying his guidance as they matured. He coached each of them in slightly different ways because he was sensitive to what made each of them unique. He knew that they all would not win. He had a Judas in the group. But the others were coached along so they could continue after he was gone and, in turn, coach others to success as leaders. Good coaching is like that. It guides church or business leaders, spouses, heads of families, teachers, and others to coach even more people after them.” (Christian Coaching, Gary R. Collins p.33)

Recent Posts
bottom of page