The Servant Leader: A Coaching Model

October 5, 2019

With the foundational understanding that each of us is a leader, let’s explore six key functions to effective coaching as a servant leader.

– Dr. Derrick Mueller

The art of servant leadership is to encourage and empower those in your care. Coaching is mentoring people who have been entrusted to you and pointing them to God in everything they do. It’s a style of leadership that invests in others through instruction, guidance, and personal involvement. It’s both formal and informal, facilitated through mutual conversation. With the foundational understanding that each of us is a leader, let’s explore six key functions to effective coaching as a servant leader.

Function #1: Teaming
The Goal: Unity in our Task

“…A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The first role of a coach is to team up with others. Every leader, no matter what the ministry situation, needs people to participate and work together in order to move toward unified goals. Proper team coaching includes more interpersonal communication and less leader control. It’s the process of group problem-solving.

Teaming involves the servant leader sharing visions and dreams, and empowering others to bring those dreams to life. It’s based on trust, having individuals take ownership of the results. Participants are allowed to fail and learn from that failure. The main goal is to facilitate and affirm the abilities of each member,  because teaming is concerned with trusting and empowering others for maximum productivity of the group. Essentially, it is doing together what cannot be done alone.

Function #2 Counselling
The Goal: Personal Caregiving

“All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us… When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

A leader who serves as counsellor is involved in sharing advice on various matters concerning the individual. Care is shown in the form of direction, planning, and support. It is an informal way of giving guidance and helping others gain a deeper insight into their behaviour, attitude, and goals.

In counselling, the servant leader functions primarily as a shepherd and caregiver. They become an instrument of healing and love. The servant leader as coach becomes more concerned with the individual rather than the task. They step into a role of listening, giving advice, consulting, encouraging, and showing compassion. 

Function #3 Modelling
The Goal: Demonstration

“And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind.” Titus 2:7

Sometimes a coach is called upon to demonstrate what is expected in behaviour and action. Modelling gives others the opportunity to observe and identify what is required of a servant leader. The key in modelling is to show each others in a way that they can imitate and internalize what is being modelled. 

Modelling is caught by others whether or not you deliberately intended. The servant leader as coach is serious and intentional, and seeks to offer oneself as a validation of experience to others. To model as a coach is to be oneself for others, transparent and real.

Function #4 Confronting
The Goal: Resolution

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault…” Matthew 18:15-17

Conflict is a byproduct of any leadership situation. As unique individuals, we differ in how we approach situations. Because of this diversity, there will always be a potential for conflict and the need for peacemaking. 

Confrontation holds people accountable for their interactions with others, but it also respects and listens to each side of the story. The leader as coach confronts with an attitude of love that is concerned for the individual and community. In confrontation, the key is to gather information, address problems honestly, and resolve controversy with compassion. The coach as servant offers solutions and guidance to benefit the community and encourage unity. 

Function #5 Teaching
The Goal: Learning

“…Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live…” 1 Timothy 4:11-12

The aim of teaching is to increase competency and skill in a particular area, as well as increase the breadth of understanding. The leader as coach is intentionally involved in teaching. The purposes for teaching include personal development and ministry proficiency.

Teaching can be formal or informal in its approach, but is often more academically and instructionally inclined. The servant coach is concerned with progress and execution of tasks and duties. Teaching is used as a way to improve performance and help individuals grow.

Function #6 Mentoring
The Goal: Mutual Transformation

“As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17

The coach uses mentoring as the informal part of teaching. Essentially, mentoring is a voluntary relational experience in which the coach shares themselves with others. The coach as mentor seeks to give wisdom and instil values. The goal is to increase maturity in leadership. 

The mentor is trusted and respected for their advice and counsel. They are seen as a confidant and friend in good and bad times. The coach uses mentoring as a way of developing a relationship with those under their leadership. The process is transformational for both the leader and the follower. This aspect of coaching links leaders with others for the purpose of learning and connecting two lives together. 


People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be or not to be. As a leader (and each one of you is in some way) you have opportunities to serve others by coaching them to their potential. In a chapter setting, this leadership style brings synergy between people. The effect of this coaching synergy results in greater effectiveness, cooperation, and personal relationship.

As you look for ways to take others under your care and bring people together as a team, remember that there are many ways to lead. You will find strengths and weakness in these six functions; look for ways to exercise and grow these skills, always with the purpose of encouraging and building people up. Use your leadership to coach others, recognizing their potential and raising up new leaders.

I believe that as we come together as leaders across Canada—united in purpose, mission, and vision—not only will we grow as a community, but we will be more effective in reaching the world for Christ.

A servant coach…
… is led by the Spirit. – Romans 8:9
… listens and is accountable to others. – Proverbs 12:15
… is slow to criticize and quick to encourage. – Romans 14:10
… keeps confidence and is trustworthy. – Proverbs 11:13
… is tender-hearted and forgiving. – Ephesians 4:32
… has a heart for prayer. – 2 Chronicles 32:20
… accepts responsibility for their actions. – 1 Chronicles 21:8
… isn’t threatened by the skills of others. – 1 Chronicles 12:1-2
… is humble. – Matthew 18:4
… accepts critique. – Ecclesiastes 7:5
… isn’t jealous. – Proverbs 14:30
… is honest and fair. – Proverbs 16:11
… resolves conflict. – Matthew 18:15-17
… models Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1
… works in harmony with others. – Psalm 133:1-2


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