What Happens After the Coach is Gone
|woodturnersofswmo.org (Google Images)|
Take the story of Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26. I’ve read this before—and commented on it. Still it leaps out from the passage at me.
“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success” (2 Chronicles 26:4, 5).
This morning I took note of a little letter written beside the word “fear” in verse 5. Apparently many of the manuscripts containing this verse use the word “vision” rather than “fear.” The bottom line is that Uzziah knew what God’s requirements of His people were (and the consequences for not keeping those requirements). And while there was someone alongside him to keep reminding him, Uzziah sought the Lord. The result of that was success. The rest of the chapter describes what happened when Uzziah got, as they say, “too big for his britches” and stopped seeking the Lord.
But let’s return to verses 4 and 5. What we see here is both good and bad to my mind. It’s a good thing to have a discipler, a mentor or, as the more popular word today is, a coach. A little spiritual guidance along the way is always a bonus. Uzziah followed the spiritual counsel and teaching of Zechariah and was blessed because of it.
But then Zechariah died and somehow there was a disconnect. It seems that the principles that Zechariah had taught to Uzziah were not as strongly rooted in his absence as they had seemed to be in his presence.
Coaching is good, but its success can only be measured when the coach isn’t around anymore. Discipleship is more art than science. It is not predictable. The results aren’t guaranteed even if you follow a precise formula. Its success depends on the receptivity of the person being discipled to the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He applies the life principles to the disciple’s heart in such a way that they are woven into the fabric of that person’s life. Then, whether in the absence or the presence of the coach, the disciple makes the right choices. These choices are made not because a coach said they were right, but because they are Spirit-driven within the person making them, no matter what the internal or external pressures come to bear.
Paul, who was a good example of a coach, mentor, discipler, in writing to the Philippian church, told them that he was praying for them. His prayer illustrates a desire, a desire that was his and should be ours, for disciples driven, not by a coach’s words, but by an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, that drives every aspect of our disciples’ lives.
“And this is my prayer: that your love abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9, 10).
Uzziah’s relationship with God, despite the coaching he received from Zechariah, was not strong enough to keep him from making bad choices after Zechariah was gone. It’s an outcome that grieves the hearts of many disciplers. It’s a warning to us to make sure that our faith is our own and not dependent on someone else pushing us. It is also a reason to get on our knees and ask God to do the work in the hearts of those into whose live we have input that will keep them strong even when we aren’t around.