I am almost finished with my course work to get my coaching certification. Coaching in all its forms (life, executive, health, etc.) is a growing field and folks from every background (medicine, mental health, ministry, business) are getting trained in coaching.
I became interested in coaching when I moved from full-time local church ministry to house church ministry in 2011. Friends began calling me, asking if I could help them deal with life balance, the local church and relationships. I love to help and so I jumped right in. Soon though I realized that I would benefit from training and started classes.
Even with my change of ministry roles (I now work as the Director of New Ministries in Southern California and Hawaii), coaching has continued to stay essential in my work. I use coaching skills as I work with churches that want to grow and new faith communities who are figuring out how to connect.
So what is coaching? In its purist sense, a coach facilitates (through questions and discovery) a client’s journey to realize what matters to them. Out of that, the coach helps the client set and meet their goals. Coaching helps the client move in the direction the client has set through accountability, encouragement and brainstorming.
This is the key: The client is not coming for therapy or advice but comes to the relationship as “creative, resourceful and whole.” I see those I work with as healthy people who want to move forward in their life and work and my role is to help them live into their goals.
Not all coaching happens in this purist sense. Many coaches are not certified; they may not have any training. Or, they may have more of an advice-giving style. There are also a large number of coaches who have been practitioners in a field (like ministry, business) who now do coaching. These all have benefits and as I explore coaching I find different situations require different skills.
But here is the most important thing I have learned: the coach’s role is not to tell the client what to do.
This is because of two truths. First, the client is the expert on his or her life and church. As a coach, I see only a piece of the client’s life. Second, people do not tend to carry out someone else’s insight, even if it is correct. What a client will carry out is his or her own insight. This is why giving advice is seldom fruitful. People need to come to their own realizations.
Knowing these two truths shapes what I do in coaching. My role is to listen, to ask questions and to work with those I coach so they might discover the direction to go. My role is not to say, “do this” but to help those being coached to put the pieces of life together and see the next steps.
What I love in coaching is that through listening and asking questions I can help others see connections, opportunities and themes in life. This is hard to do on our own as we often find ourselves too close to see clearly. Like the fish who doesn’t recognize the water in which it swims, we can be too close to see what is right in front of us. Coaching, at its best, helps people see where they are and imagine and live into who they might be.
Currently I am taking a class on executive coaching. Most everyone in the class is working with small business owners so I get to do some translation to the local church context. But what I am learning is that no matter what world we move in, coaching can help us become more aware, more focused and more faithful.
Do you need a coach?