How Helping Others Be Successful Makes You Successful: A Quick Memoir of Being A Job Coach


Yesterday I quit my job as a job coach with the state of Tennessee through the Division of Rehabilitation. My job was to help folks with mental or physical disabilities search, interview for and sustain themselves in gainful employment. This has by far been the greatest job I have ever had. It was very rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed my coworkers. I had little to complain about. I was able to apply my talents and abilities. In other words, I was able to be a professional in my vocation.

In November 2011, I was fired from being a pest technician four days after Thanksgiving. I immediately went to the Career Center and inquired in a few jobs that sounded interesting. I had never heard of being a job coach but when the job counselor told me what I would be doing, I saw it as pastoring people outside of the church. I applied for the job and waited. January of 2012, I received a call to come for an interview. An hour and a half later, I was hired.

I learned a few things working with people with disabilities.

  1. People with disabilities are just a capable to succeed as those without.
  2. However, everyone has a disability of sorts, some are just more severe.
  3. People with disabilities are people too
  4. There are more rewarding things in life than money.
  5. Making a difference in someone else’s life makes a difference in your own.
  6. Finding a career utilizing your God given gifts means no longer going to a J.O.B.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might actually like it.
  8. Coaching (teaching) people opens doors for your own learning.
  9. Everyone needs help. Don’t be afraid to assist and don’t be afraid to ask.
  10. It truly is more rewarding to give than to receive.

I could think of more but that is enough. I worked with so many different type of disabilities, from homeless to addictions, anger management to TBI, depression to overzealousness, physical limitations to mental limitations, down syndrome to manic depression. It’s amazing what so many people go through. There are so many people hurting and most times are not able to find the help they need to be successful.

I watched a homeless man literally having only the clothes on his back go from the street to having his own home, receiving disability and working twenty hours a week after fifteen years in jail and five on the street.

I watched an alcoholic go from losing everything he had including his wife and house to getting back on his feet and being stable in a job with a new home.

I watch a man with down syndrome find work in a local pizzeria.

I watched a man with no hands learn to drive a fork lift.

I watched a young woman strung out on drugs because she watched her husband get murdered in her front yard living off her son’s disability check find work at a local restaurant.

I watched a young man who had a learning disability pass his test to become a firefighter.

I watched a blind man become a journalist for a local online news source.

I watched a young woman leave jail as a felon and get her drivers license, a house, her G.E.D. and find work all within thirty days.

Sure there are some failures along the way, some clients who I couldn’t help or was non-compliant. But the highlights of this job brings me so much joy. Where I thought I could bring hope to others actually gave myself hope. I learned, more than anything, that in order to be successful, I had to help others be successful. That’s what serving truly is all about.

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged

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