Here is how I try to coach people. I got this from Paul in I Thessalonians 5:14. The following three categories could represent the approach a person needs in a season of life or might even be a settled personality with long standing evidence. Most people you meet need one of these three approaches. Most of us are better at one approach than the other two. We all need to develop balance based on the need of the other person not on our own propensity.
Category 1: The Lazy Need Warning
“Warn the idle” = if they are lazy, kick butt a bit by pointing out the consequences of doing diddly. “I want to give you this to do ________, when you get it done send me an email / give me a call. OK?” If yes, and no action they are Category 1. If they ask genuine questions, they might be Category 2 or 3. On the other hand, their questions might be identifying their next excuse for inactivity. Lots of laziness, timidity and weakness hides under their questions.
Category 2: The Timid Need Encouraging
“Encourage the timid” = if they are scared or burdened with real questions and not just excuses, show understanding and hope etc. “If I could show you a sure fire way to ______ , would you do it with me?” If no, they are either Category 1 or 3 but not 2.
Category 3: The Weak Need Helping
“Help the weak” = if they can’t figure it out, show them how and even do it for/with them. “If I could show you a sure fire way to ______ and actually walk you through it step by step with me, would you do it?” If no, they are likely Category 1.
All Categories Need Patience
“Be patient with everyone” = always be patient no matter what. “What if I give you some time to work this through on your own? Would that help?”
So only patience is one size fits all. Never scold someone who is just timid or weak. Never encourage someone who is just idle or weak. Never help someone who is just lazy or timid.
Now, you can’t always know what is going on even when you can look in their eyes. But hearing what they say in written and spoken words can sure help.
So, when you hear someone say, “I will do anything in the world to get this fixed!” but they won’t answer your emails, bet on lazy. Don’t help them. However, someone might not respond because they didn’t read what you said so phoning is good. But if after you email them you call and ask, “Did you get my email?” and they say, “Yes, but I didn’t read it.” you are getting close to a sure bet on lazy. But there might be extenuating circumstances, so patiently inquire. If there are no extenuating circumstances, and they just didn’t get around to it, give them another 24 hours to do so, then bet the farm on lazy.
People who are ready to go, or who might get ready to go, deserve your attention. The others deserve an occasional scan until they get ready to go. But don’t try to force feed a corpse. And yelling at a seed will never make it grow.