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Victory in Leadership: The Coaching Tree

via TJC

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~Philemon 1:1-3

This week at TJC we are looking at how to achieve victory as leaders in the Kingdom.

Buddy Ryan, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren. If you are a football fan these names are very familiar. Tony Dungy, Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, and even Nick Saban; these are also household names. And for good measure let’s add: Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin, and Sean McVay. These men are at the highest level of their craft. They are Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers and champions. On the Gridiron there is no doubt they reap fruit. 

But these men have far more in common than just being Super Bowl and National Champions. Their bond exceeds the accolades and the Hall that will hold their likenesses and stories. Though not blood related, these men are bonded by the seeds of relationship, mentoring and “discipleship”. These men are all grafted into what is known as a “Coaching Tree”.

A “Coaching Tree”, much like a Family Tree,  links the branches to the root. It highlights the relationship between head coaches and the assistants who studied under them. This model didn’t originate in professional sports, it spans millennia. We see it in the apprenticeships of knights and squires in the Middle Ages. It was showcased on the steps of the Parthenon in Ancient Greece and in the construction of the Great Pyramids by Master Masons. Undoubtedly the most effective “Coaching Tree” was headed by a carpenter from Nazareth. 

Jesus intentionally discipled twelve men who went on to disciple dozens more, and so on and so on. This small band from a small region went on to influence every corner of the world and across time. Like grandparents, they seeded into a future and left a legacy they would never see. We are grafted in because of them. They seeded because they believed in the Master and His vision. He grafted us in and prayed for us (John 17:20-26).

So Kingdom Man, how is your tree? You don’t have to reach the ends of the Earth or win Super Bowls, but do you know the names of the men and women that your disciples have discipled? What fruit are they producing? Is it “no fruit, some fruit, more fruit or much fruit?” In other words, who are your spiritual grandchildren and what are they up to?

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good answer for these questions. I know I have discipled a handful of men and women in my life, but beyond them, I can’t tell you who else is on the tree. I don’t even know “IF” there is anyone else on the tree. But I gotta tell you, like an estranged grandfather, I want to know who they are. I want that Victory in Jesus Name.


Trace your tree today. Who discipled you? Who have you discipled? Reach out to them. Let the one(s) you studied under know the impact. Ask your disciples who they have grafted into the tree and pray for them.

1 comment

1 Comment

Tom Burke
Tom Burke
Jul 15, 2022


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