2 Timothy 4: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Wanted: A Coach – Wimps Need Not Apply. Now there’s a title that get’s your intention. In fact, if I was looking for a coach, I think I’d be tempted to use that as the title on the job board. While this example, from Dave Anderson, comes from the world of business, there is little difference between the playing field and the world of commerce – “wimpiness” is of no value. In his article, Anderson emphatically states: “I was a wimp for three years. I was a coach for twelve more after that. Add it up and I spent fifteen years in sales leadership at a Fortune 50 company. Not surprisingly, my success as a leader came in those final twelve years. I realized, with the help of the people I was leading, that they wanted candor not coddling.”[i]
Especially in the realm of athletics, a great coach will be a mentor to their young athletes. I read of someone stating it this way: a mentor needs to be a “Mentos” not a “Gummi Bear”. “Mentos are described as ‘small oblate spheroids, with a slightly hard exterior and a soft, chewy interior’. The best mentors are the same way (ignoring the spheroid shape thing): they have a slightly hard exterior (meaning they won’t be afraid to give you constructive criticism) and yet they have a soft interior (ultimately, they want you to succeed). In contrast, if your mentor doesn’t call out what you’ve done wrong or what you could do better, they’re more like a Gummi bear than a Mentos”.[ii] Nice and chewy but missing that helpful crust.
I had a soccer coach in high school who was a Gummi Bear. I was only a sophomore playing with seniors, so I was low man on the totem pole. I was good, so started and played each game, but in no way could I lead the team. We were the most talented team in the county (arguably the province), but because the coach would not lead, the kids took over and it was mayhem. A much younger, better coached, better disciplined team took us out in the semi-finals. Our Gummi Bear bellies walked to the sidelines in shame.
In today’s scripture, the Apostle Paul is mentoring his mentoree Timothy, in how to be a mentor himself. He instructs Timothy to: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2). I have had a number of young Christian men come to me eager for encouragement, but clearly not eager for mentoring, because as soon as it became uncomfortable (i.e. the other two-thirds of the mentoring, namely correction and rebuke), they quickly left and were not to be heard of again. Correction and rebuke are critical at the right time, but without encouragement it is abusive and will tear down the person rather than building them up. You want to be a Mentos not Rock Candy. Paul understood this and that is why you will always see his letters begin with encouragement, and often end the same. He was a safe mentor.
If you are a coach, do an honest assessment of whether you are Rock Candy, a Gummi Bear or a Mentos? If you are an athlete, you should be praying and looking for coaches who will be the Mentos in your life – coaches willing to provide you with honest correction and rebuke at the right time, yet encouraging, wanting you to succeed in your athletics and in life. If you have such a coach today, thank them and bless them. If you don’t, pray earnestly to God for such a coach and search diligently.