First Person: Do you need a coach?

By Chad Garrison | Feb 7, 2023

Ministry is full of surprises. After 10 years at Calvary, Lake Havasu, I was surprised by our “success” (growing attendance, two building projects and increasing baptisms), but also by my growing apathy.

I was “burning out” before I even knew what the term meant! I was emotionally numb, spiritually empty and living a joyless life. No one else could see it, but I was headed for trouble.

Thankfully, that was when I took my first sabbatical — four weeks off, no communication with or about the church. During that time, I reconnected with Jesus, discovered I was more than the job and developed a healthy, sustainable pace for life and ministry.

I also came to realize that only healthy leaders grow healthy churches. Just as a “healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17), an unhealthy leader cannot grow a healthy church.

The Apostle Paul issued this challenge: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Every pastor or leader is setting the example for others of what it means to follow Jesus. That means my marriage and family need to be healthy, my personal spiritual life must be authentic and my character must be consistent with what I preach. I believe we cannot represent Jesus unless we reflect His character.

My journey to personal and church health also resulted in a desire to help other pastors and churches thrive in their ministry settings. I believe every Bible-based, Jesus-focused congregation can be healthy and effective in the ministry of the Gospel.

That’s why I’m excited to serve Arizona Southern Baptist pastors and churches as a “coach.” I know counselors — but I’m not one. I’ve used consultants — but I’m not peddling a quick fix, a guaranteed program or a lengthy process. I am happy to talk about ministry from a practical perspective, to encourage pastors and ask some needed (and sometimes painful) questions.

If I can help pastors reconnect with their calling and discover a healthy pace, that’s a win. After all, we’re all on a mission together for the same King.

Chad Garrison is lead pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City. Contact him in his role as pastoral coach for the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists at

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