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Transcript
Christian
Coaching
Catechism
!
A Book of Questions and Their
Answers About Christian
Coaching
!
!
By Rev. C. Scott Gress MDiv, MSL, ACC
Table of Contents
!
Introduction
What is the foundation of Christian Coaching?
What is coaching?
Is Coaching Biblical? Can it even be “Christian?”
What makes one a Christian Coach and what is their mindset?
What assumptions does the Christian Coach have about the person being coached?
Where did coaching come from?
How does coaching work?
How is coaching different from other helping skills?
Consulting
Teaching, Counseling, Mentoring
Pastor, Advisor, Coach
What does the coach bring to the helping relationship?
When should coaching be used?
Are there any standards or oversight in the world of coaching?
Some “Commandments” for Christian Coaching
Concluding Thoughts
Bibliography of some coaching books from a Christian perspective
About the author
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Page 8
Page 11
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Christian Coaching Catechism
A Book of Questions and Answers about Christian Coaching
By Rev. C. Scott Gress MDiv, MSOL, ACC
!
Introduction
!
“Coaching” is a word that has come into popular use in recent years. Various kinds of selfdescribed “coaches” have emerged, advertising what they do as coaching. There are life coaches,
spiritual coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and so on. Coaching as it is currently
practiced is a relatively new helping skill when compared to other helping skills from the past.
Reactions have been varied to this phenomenon called coaching. Some are attracted to the new
word and helping skill. Others resist things new and favor the tried and true. Some are simply put
off by those who think themselves as trailblazers and innovators while others are just skeptical.
Those who help in other ways question the value of this new skill. They see how coaching seems
to be so varied and the quality uneven that coaching is met with suspicion. Christians have for
generations favored words like disciple, pastor, or even mentor and there is the valid question as
to the need for another helping skill or even if it is anything really new or different. To make
matters worse, the word “coach” has been variously understood and has caused some confusion
and false assumptions about those who “coach” as well as those who are being coached.
!
Some of the misunderstanding is a basic confusion of the word itself. This is often because the
word “coach” is often associated with sports coaching. Others who practice coaching are really
doing what might be more accurately described as personalized consulting. Still others associate
coaching with psychotherapy or counseling as there appears to be many similarities. Some see
the difference from counseling but instead associate coaching with other helping relationships
like mentoring. Confusing the matter further are the assumptions and impressions some from the
world of coaching give about the rationale, power and influence of the coach as well as the
person being coached. The result is a mix of impressions, some merely confusing and others
down right offensive. This can be especially true for careful Christians who may perceive some
contradictions in coaching with faithfully living a life of faith in Jesus Christ.
!
With all of these valid concerns and issues the following collection of questions and their
answers, sometimes known as a “catechism” has been compiled. The goal is to clarify and
differentiate coaching from other helping skills as well to define and differentiate Christian
coaching from others who practice coaching in our world today who may not be followers of
Jesus Christ.
!
The hope is that this will provide not only greater clarity about coaching but also greater clarity
regarding Christianity. There is much confusion there too and as we examine the value of
Christianity and coaching, it is our prayer that the values, beliefs and assumptions with regard to
God, people and the world will come through as well as the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus
!3
Christ. Furthermore it is hoped that this work will initiate a dialogue with those who want to add
additional questions and read more answers in the future.
!
!
What is the foundation of “Christian” Coaching?
!
In the spring of 2012 I was sitting in a meeting room at a very nice hotel in Buckhead, Atlanta
Georgia. I was attending a presentation of the updated coaching model from the school where I
received the bulk of my coaching instruction. I appreciated their “active-learning” adult
education model to teach coaching. The two presenters would dialogue back and forth and then
engage the audience in discussion and introduce an activity. Afterward they had everyone sit
down to debrief what happened in order to solidify the learning. This was repeated several times.
It is a great approach that probably helps to make it the largest coaching school in the world.
Their interactive style attracts people from all sectors of life and experience. Young, old, women,
men, counselors, consultants, full and part time coaches including people from diverse ethnicities
and sexual orientations. They all find their way into their classes to learn about coaching. Many
of them are passionate about coaching and especially this secular school’s affirming and
encouraging approach to coaching and dealing with people in general. I enjoy their energy and
enthusiasm and positive outlook toward people. Also for me, being there with them is a window
on the secular culture of the day. It is the chance to see what is being talked about and learn
where people really are as opposed to reading it in a book or the newspaper or seeing it on
television. That kind of contact reveals to me that I am in the minority because I don’t follow the
popular spiritual trends of the day. Yet I thought it would be a good time to brush up on my
coaching knowledge and skills having spent the previous two years both coaching and teaching
coaching. While many people there may have a different worldview or even spiritual perspective,
I think they get the mechanics of the coaching thing right.
!
The two founders of the coaching school, husband and wife, were leading the seminar. They
alternated one after the other, finishing one another’s sentences, as seemingly the one would
answer the questions you had in your mind as you listened to the other. It was helpful,
informative and engaging. As I sat there listening and involved in the activities and the learning,
I found myself listening and filtering what was being said through my theological and Biblical
worldview. At one point they began to talk about the posture of the coach, that is, where a coach
comes from in order to be most helpful in the coaching relationship. Along the way, the couple
was sharing the story of their personal spiritual journey that had taken them to classes in Native
American spirituality. They talked about how the “doing” of coach flows out of the “being” of
who you are. Of course that kind of language and thinking was not new to me but the husband
made the connection in this regard with what he was learning about Native American spirituality.
I was noticing how attendees to the seminar were listening attentively and some were chiming in
from their experience and affirming how their own spirituality shaped their posture of love and
empathy and other characteristics which were so valuable to the transformation of their coaching
client’s and their own coaching process. The spiritual content was simply accepted by the crowd
and was even affirmed. Post modernism was being displayed right before me. That was their
!4
journey and that was okay for them was the impression I received. This Native American
Spirituality for the presenters had a valuable insight for them and so they shared that in a nonthreatening way.
!
It wasn’t too hard to see that they felt what they had experienced and learned was helpful, even
foundational. Yet I was convinced that the higher way, the Biblical way, the eternal way was
through Jesus Christ. As a Christ follower, it was clear to me that the “spiritual hole” that
Augustine spoke of, was seeking to be filled by so many in the room. Buddhist teaching had
been obliquely referenced and this Native American spirituality was talked about and obviously
was attractive to the teachers and I presume, to many of the attendees. I wanted to share how “in
Christ” one is truly filled and fulfilled. That in Jesus there is redemption, eternal hope,
forgiveness and from Him there is true authenticity as a person, let alone as a coach. So it was
somewhere early in that morning session that the words “in Christ” came to me as I was
reminded of who we, as Christians. We are in Christ Jesus.
!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NIV.
!
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be
found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is
through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” Philippians 3:8–
9 NIV.
!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2
cor 5:17 NIV.
!
It is entirely “in Christ” that the Christian coach finds their identity, their being and what follows,
what they do. What that ends up looking like is a coach who provides the “grace space” for the
coaching client to explore where they are, where they need to be and how to get there.
!
Interestingly I was soon paired with a wonderful woman sitting next to me for the next active
learning exercise. It was a kind of an imagine the scene exercise, where the participant was asked
to imagine himself or herself at a particular place engaged in a particular way. Then you are
asked to talk about it with a partner. During the activity I shared about a picture I had in my
mind’s eye of sitting, vulnerable like a little child, on Christ’s lap where he simply loved, forgave
and accepted me and protected me. My partner shared that she too was a believer and we spoke
about our common hope in Jesus. Then it was time for the larger group to share what had been
said in pairs. Interestingly my partner stood up to talk and looked down at me to ask if she could
tell the group about our interaction. I said sure and she told the group about how I had this image
of me sitting on the lap of Jesus, who was comforting, loving and forgiving. God only knows
how this sifted into the thinking of those in the room but I think it is a wonderful picture of our
posture with Christ. We are like children, vulnerable, weak in our sins and in need of care,
!5
eternal care. Then Jesus comes and picks us up and embraces us in an eternal embrace of love
and forgiveness.
!
It is only “in Christ” that we can truly be forgiven, die to self and live for others. And in the
coaching relationship, dying to self is critical, foundational and necessary. “It’s not about you” is
a phrase that fits especially well for the coaching relationship. The point is that knowing who you
are “in Christ” and also “whose” you are, is the place to begin. It is from that place where the
coach can truly devote themselves to Jesus and the person across from them and “do” the best
kind of coaching that will serve the coaching client for their highest good.
!
There are many fine books on coaching that I could never write. There are many fine books on
Christian coaching. Some even contain theological content and related explanations for entering
and living out the Christian coaching relationship. They are helpful for Christians who are
coaches yet there seems to be a missing piece.
!
In my teaching of coaching numerous times with ministry leaders in the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod we find ourselves talking about how this doctrine of justification, the doctrine
upon which the church stands or falls, impacts coaching. This teaching that we are justified by
grace through faith in Jesus Christ, without the works of the law is so important for eternal life.
Yet not only for that, it is the foundation and starting point for life and relationships in the church
and in the case of the subject of the training, foundational for coaching. For it is only “in Christ”
that we are free. Free in Christ to serve the other person as a Christian coach.
!
It is my prayer that through this book you will be reminded of the truth of your salvation in
Christ and how it is through grace alone, that you would see how it is foundational not only for
eternity but for all of life and life’s relationships and how it is especially helpful and fundamental
for the Christian who coaches and the Christian coaching relationship.
!
!
!6
!
!
Christian Coaching Catechism – A book of Questions and
Answers about Christian Coaching
!
What is coaching?
!
The first thought that comes to the mind of many when they hear the word “coach” is the sports
coach. They imagine a coach is one who teaches the athlete in their athletic moves, teaches them
strategy and technique and even calls the plays for them. That image of coaching is therefore
very directive and prescriptive. So when one seeks to consider what this new helping skill is they
envision someone doing a lot of telling and advice giving. Yet that is not the kind of coaching we
are addressing here. Rather coaching is a helping skill that involves focused dialogue with the
goal of a specific outcome that does not involve telling and advice giving.
!
Various definitions of coaching have been developed to describe more precisely what happens
during a coaching dialogue.
!
Here are a number of helpful definitions of Coaching:
“Partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to
maximize their personal and professional potential.” From the International Coach Federation.
!
“Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their growth.” “Coaching... is helping
[people] to learn rather than teaching them.” John Whitmore, in Coaching for Performance
!
“Coaching is the art and practice of guiding a person or group from where they are toward the
greater competence and fulfillment that they desire.” Gary Collins, in Christian Coaching
!
“Coaching is practicing the disciplines of believing in people in order to empower them to
change.” Tony Stoltzfus, in Leadership Coaching, the Disciplines, Heart and Skills of a
Christian Coach
!
“Mentoring is imparting to you what God has given me; coaching is drawing out of you what
God has put in you.” Dale Stoll
!
“Coaching is helping people grow without telling them what to do.”
!
“[Coaching is] helping people discover what they could not discover on their own, so they can
become what they want to become.” Aubrey Malphurs, in Maximizing Your Effectiveness
!
With these definitions, coaching can easily apply to many instances where one is to be helped
and supported in one’s development by another. Therefore coaching can be of service in many
!7
arenas of life. The spectrum can run from an informal one time conversation to a longer term
formal coaching relationship.
!
Is Coaching Biblical? Can coaching even be “Christian?”
!
That is an important question. To be sure, the Bible does not use the word “coach” nor does it
speak of coaching. Yet there are numerous examples of this helping skill reflected in various
conversations in the Bible. They may not be a whole coaching conversation from identifying an
area of focus, then working through options and discovering new or renewed insights or
awareness’s and then concluding with specific action plans. Yet parts and pieces of these
strategies and elements of a coaching conversation are present in many of the interactions in the
Bible. It may be between God, Jesus and others or it may be between two people or two
prominent biblical characters.
!
Coaching Elements in the Bible
Right after the fall of man into sin, God seeks Adam and Eve in the garden and calls, “Where are
you?” (Gen 3:9). God says to Cain, “Why are you angry?” and “Where is your brother
Abel?” (Gen 4:6 & 9). Certainly God knew the answers to these questions but in keeping with
what we may call good coaching, God asks these questions for the hearer’s benefit rather than to
simply gain information or make a point. These questions serve a higher purpose, to raise
awareness in Adam and Cain about what has happened so they understand the seriousness of
what they have done. You may even say that it is in the broader category of preaching the law as
the hearer, in this case Cain, could come to an awareness of his sin and guilt.
!
When Jethro joined up with Moses he observed how Moses was managing the judgment for the
people. Jethro began with a question, “What is this you are doing for the people?” Then there
was a follow up question, “Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around
you from morning till evening?” (Ex 18:14). This causes Moses to answer him and try to explain.
It does not say how long this dialogue goes on. Yet one may infer that this exploration of the
facts and the question by Jethro that it helped Moses to be open minded to what followed from
Jethro, specifically some practical advice about delegation and managing the work. Like the
preaching of the law and its effect precedes the preaching of the gospel, in coaching there is the
understanding that unless there is an awareness of the problem there will not be an openness to a
solution. Furthermore, that awareness came about not by telling Moses what was happening, but
by opening his eyes through questions. It brought Moses to a place of seeing what Jethro was
seeing and Moses trying to explain it. As said above, this structure of growing aware of the
reality of a problem and then being open to alternatives or solutions is in keeping with the law,
gospel framework of many other conversations, prophetic utterances, sermons and the like found
in the Bible. Unless one is aware of the problem through the law, they will not appreciate the
solution of God’s love in Christ through the gospel. The law and its proper work convicts us of
sin and the gospel follows with the salve of comfort in the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
!
!8
We see elements of coaching in “pastoral” or prophetic exchanges. Take Nathan and David and
the famous dialogue about David’s sin. Nathan employs the metaphor of the poor man and his
young ewe lamb in 2 Samuel 12. This led to David’s awareness of his own sin and the serious
nature of what he had done. If Nathan had simply said to David, “you sinned against God” in a
direct way, like so many other prophets have done, it may still have had its intended effect. Yet in
this case the story or metaphor of the abuse of the poor man got past David’s potential denial of
his own sin and convicted him powerfully when Nathan said to him, “you are the man” (2 Sam
12:7). In coaching, there is a goal of “connecting the dots” or helping us see beyond our own
blind spots or denial through questions that direct us to explore and think in ways we have not
thought about before or through a metaphor that assists us to “make sense” of what is going on.
!
Jesus often used questions as a rhetorical device to teach and engage the people who were
following Him. In Luke 10 Jesus answered a question with a question: “On one occasion an
expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal
life?’ 26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’” in Luke 9 Jesus was
praying in private and his disciples were with Him. He asked them the question, “Who do the
crowds say that I am?” Then Jesus had a follow up question after their answers. “But what about
you? Who do you say I am?” This was a means to teach and also a means to get people to think.
It was not manipulative, but helpful to guide them through the thinking process and owning their
answers.
!
Jane Creswell MCC a leader in Christian coaching writes in her book Christ Centered Coaching
that “Jesus was a master at creating awareness. He used language to help people think – both
those who heard him in person and those who read his word today. Each of the methods he used
to create awareness was structured in the format that makes new information more readily
accepted by our brains. The one who created us knew that parable and metaphor would be
powerful teaching tools because that’s how he created our brains to operate” (Creswell, 2006).
!
The good coach will resist telling or solving problems for the person with whom they are
coaching. The good coach through powerful questions will facilitate the thinking process of the
person and enable them to discover new insights or remember forgotten truths. As the proverb
says, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them
out.” (Proverbs 20:5 NIV) This is what coaching does for the person being coached.
!
Coaching involves other additional elements than have been exemplified in these few passages.
After the new awareness or discovery, seeing through the denial or remembering forgotten truths,
a coach will ask questions to move the coaching client forward into intentional choices based
upon what they have just learned. Those choices for the Christian will be Christian choices,
Biblical choices, consistent with what God has revealed His will to be in the scriptures.
Examples of those kinds of choices that flow from God’s revealed will are found many times in
the scriptures. One example is seen in how St. Paul shifts to the “therefore” sections of his
epistles. These are the sections where the truth of God presented in the initial chapters now are
expressed in the change that is needed or the practical living that is prescribed which follows.
!9
This is not coaching per se, but teaching and explaining the logical ramifications of what has just
been taught. In the world of coaching however, there is also a “therefore” which follows what the
coaching client has learned earlier in the conversation. Clarifying where they want to go and then
clearly and accurately identifying their present, reality which often involves a new awareness for
them, will often point to an action step that must be taken next. This or these action steps will
bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be. Often the action is self-evident
once the goal and current reality are adequately defined.
!
The instances in the Bible of focused dialogue where questions are employed can be helpful. In a
sense they give validation to the practicality and pragmatism of coaching, as those Biblical
interactions seem to mirror a coaching conversation. Yet that does not make them prescriptive for
practical ministry. Having said that, it does not disqualify it from practical use in ministry either.
The test is whether it is in keeping with God’s revealed word of sin and grace, law and gospel.
Furthermore for the Christian the test would be whether the assumptions and pre-conceived
notions about the coach, the person being coached and coaching in and of itself are not only
consistent with but also in support of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of His revealed will. As we
shall see later, even though some coaches or coach schools carry non-biblical or non-Christian or
even anti-Christian assumptions and worldviews when they coach, it does not mean that a careful
Christian cannot be a coach or that coaching cannot be Christian or even anti-Christian.
!
Coaching and the First Article of the creed – is coaching sinful or a blessing from God?
We have an appreciation for first article gifts in many areas of life. The first article is a reference
to the first section of the Apostle’s Creed where faith in God as maker of heaven and earth is
affirmed and confessed. A first article gift therefore is an appreciation that every good and
perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). We appreciate and give thanks for many mundane and
helpful things that God in His grace gives us to live in this body and life. We follow this thinking
with many things not only in life but also in Christian ministry. An example would be
fundamental accounting principals and computers. They are helpful tools for business and for
churches. Yet just because some people use those tools to commit crimes or promote sin, it
doesn’t mean those tools are not gifts of God that cannot be used in His service. It does not mean
careful Christians cannot be accountants or computer operators or repair persons. Many things
flow from God’s gracious hand as He provides for every living thing (Psalm 145:16). In that
sense God provides His gifts that are in keeping with the first article of the creed or what we call
“first article gifts.” Coaching would fall into that category as well. And the answer to the
question of whether coaching can be Christian then is yes, as long as a Christian practices
coaching from the posture and assumptions of a Christian, using the coaching competencies and
practices with the same and whose relationship with the coaching client is also cast in that same
Christian posture and assumptions.
!
Furthermore, we would not therefore reject out of hand coaching as sinful, unholy or patently
unchristian just because some non-Christians apply unchristian or anti-Christian assumptions or
principles to their coaching. Just as one of the founders of my coaching school has affection for
Native American spirituality as I described above does not mean that coaching cannot be
!10
“baptized” and appreciated as a first article gift for life and ministry. In the same way that we
would not reject counseling out of hand just because Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung or some other
early influential psychologist promoted some unbiblical or antichristian psychological theories.
As with any first article gift it can be abused or appreciated, a curse or a blessing.
!
What does this mean?
Let’s examine some Christian assumptions about coaching, the coach and the person being
coached.
!
What makes one a Christian Coach and what is their mindset?
!
The Christian is to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5). That is a tall order. For in the beginning
the Bible tells us that while God created the world and it was good, the world fell into sin
because of the sin of Adam. Good gave way to fallen, perfect to imperfection, fellowship with
God to a broken relationship with God. Yet God grieved this brokenness and promised the
sending of a Savior at the moment it occurred (Gen 3:15-17). The promise was to redeem, or buy
us back, from the devil and that there would be a new heavens and a new earth. The Savior of the
world would pay the price through His shed blood sacrificed on the cross for us. His victory
would be sealed with the resurrection from the dead. And the promise would be for anyone who
would simply believe that this was God’s promise for you. The Garden of Eden would give way
to the beauty of heaven with God forever. The broken relationship would be healed and sins
would be forgiven. Jesus would exchange His sinless life for our life of sin offered on a cross and
we would be allowed into the perfection of heaven because we would now be made whole and
holy in Him.
!
For the Christian these realities are true in Jesus Christ. The down payment has been made by the
Holy Spirit through holy baptism and the fulfillment will be realized when we physically die or
when Jesus returns for us, which ever comes first. In the meantime we wait, yet we wait with a
purpose, living as His forgiven children seeking to be “salt and light” by loving and serving
those around us. This posture is empowered by the love of Jesus Christ as received through the
means of grace, the Word of God and the sacraments.
!
For the Christian coach then, coaching is a life of being a “new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor
5:17). It is a life of grace and forgiveness. It is the life as a baptized child of God where the
believer lives in the joy of forgiveness and the assurance of the love of God. It is a life of service
to another seeking to mirror Jesus who “came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a
ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). It is therefore a life “in Christ” as St. Paul often says. Will the
Christian or Christian coach be perfect? No, but they awake each morning remembering the
promise of their baptism that they have been washed clean from their imperfections by the power
that raised Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 3:21). They approach each coaching conversation
remembering that they are in Christ and their self-esteem and value does not come from being a
coach, or any outcomes from the coaching relationship or for the person being coached but from
the declaration of Jesus that their sins are forgiven and they belong to Him forever.
!11
!
So for the careful Christian who also is a coach, they will remember that anyone who has been
baptized by Christ have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). They will see themselves as “in
Christ” (Rom 6, 8; 2 Cor 5:17, 19; Eph 1:3). They will hold to the promise that they are
connected to the vine, Christ Jesus and produce fruit through Him (John 15; Luke 19:11-27);
Mark 11:13—14; Eph 2:10) and not in their own strength or by their own training or wisdom as a
coach or anything else.
!
And this makes a world of difference when the coach interacts with others in general but even
more importantly when they are in a coaching relationship. There will be love and devotion to
the one being coached as a reflection of how God relates to us. “We love because He first loved
us” (1 John 4:19). The fruit of the spirit will be evident (Gal 5:22 & 1 Cor 13). There will be a
spirit of humility as the coach considers others “better than (them)selves” Phil 2:3. There will be
a losing of ones-self in service to the one being coached and they will bring a spirit of worship to
all that they do (Eph 5:20 “giving thanks in everything” and Col 3:17 “doing everything in the
name of the Lord Jesus Christ”). It will not be about them as coach. The focus will be on serving
the one who is being coached.
!
What assumptions does the Christian Coach have about the person being coached?
!
Whether the person being coached is a professing Christians or not, the Christian coach sees
them as people for whom Christ died (John 3:16). Coaches will understand that they and the ones
being coached are not perfect, but they will also understand that Jesus died for both of them. That
means that both are persons that God loves and seeks to forgive. This view of God towards the
other will cause the self-aware, mature Christian coach to not fall into manipulation, controlling
behaviors, or otherwise have unhealthy attitudes or boundaries with respect to the person they
coach. If assignments are not done, if trouble mounts for the person being coached then faith will
seek not to take it personally nor seek to control or seek revenge or manipulation. The mature
Christian coach will once again lose themselves in the other and work to serve them to grow in
responsibility and faith.
!
This is a high view of the person being coached. They are persons who are loved by God and if
they are Christians they are gifted by God with forgiveness and they have the promise of the
Holy Spirit. They are not left helpless but with rich possibilities through Christ. To be sure they
are also sinner, but sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Thus while there will be
numerous challenges, many self created, God’s promises to them are a great resource and cause
for optimism (“I am with you” Matt 28:20; “Never will I leave you” Heb 13:5).
!
One prominent coaching school advocates a high view of the person being coached as well. They
say that people are “naturally creative, resourceful and whole.” As Christians we would put it
differently of course. We might say that people are “naturally creative, resourceful and whole
only through Christ.” The former may argue that the coaching client has great potential in and of
themselves and thus they bring all the knowledge and expertise of the universe to the coaching
!12
task. This is a humanistic perspective that has no place for the Christian coach. Yet Christians
would say, no, our wholeness and potential come only from the gracious hand of God who gives
us His grace, His promises, His Word and all things necessary for life and salvation. Thus there is
not this Humanistic or Eastern mysticism of potential as one is connected to the wisdom of the
universe, but rather a God given and blessed potential only through Christ. Furthermore what one
has is not mystically given as much as it is through formal education, God’s Word and
sacraments and also through other people and things like coaching.
!
Co-author of Faith Coaching, Christian coach Chad Hall writes in his blog through Coach
Approach Ministries (http://ca-ministries.com/a-respone-to-gospel-coach) that some react with
strong negativity to coaching because of what they perceive as preconceived inherent
entanglement of coaching with humanism where it teaches that people are basically good and
need to look within. Not true for the Christian Coach. Hall says that Christians may look within
to “discover hidden strengths, latent talent, unused knowledge, unapplied wisdom, dormant
values, and self-evident evidence that their life is not aligning with (the scriptures).” But not for
their own goodness and never for salvation.
!
Where did coaching come from?
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Historically, Socrates was known for his questions to engage the students. It was a form of
inquiry whereby questions would be used to stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas.
Socratic, thought-provoking questions are a cornerstone of coaching as they facilitate thinking
out loud, develop critical and creative thinking and therefore promote self discovery and learning
by the one being coached. Then questions are also employed as a means by which those thoughts
translate into intentional choices and behaviors.
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Vickie Brock PhD wrote in her groundbreaking work, Sourcebook of Coaching History that “…
coaching came into existence to fill a need once met by social and professional networks often
lost in a world of growing mobility and complexity…In addition, a broader historic change, from
the social environment of the factory to the more individual sphere of the office, made a new
form of support almost inevitable” (Brock 2012). Furthermore she writes, “the practice of
coaching – that is, assisting individuals in reaching their personal goals – was a familiar human
activity” (ibid). She goes on to say that whether they were called coaches, mentors, elders or
masters there have always been people to help and influence others.
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Brock speaks of the history of coaching by tracing it back to what she calls “root” disciplines and
then the fields of study that grew out of them. She traces the influence of socioeconomic
theories, philosophy, psychology, business, sports, adult education and other disciplines. Each
has their influence in the emergence of coaching in the twentieth century.
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Brock says that the root disciplines of philosophy, including religious influences, psychology,
adult learning and development and the fertile ground of the business world provided an
opportunity for coaching to emerge. Yet she credits sports coaching as the catalyst that brought
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coaching its own identity. Thus she observes that coaching is a hybrid field that itself now
branches out into life and business specialties.
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According to Bill Dueease, writing for the Peer Bulletin 172 in 2009, the term “coaching” began
somewhere in the late 1880’s in the sports field. Then in 1972 W. T. Gallwey wrote The Inner
Game of Tennis which represented the first major transition from sports coaching with control
and teaching to instead facing the challenge that the opponent within is often more formidable
than the opponent in the sports match. Sir John Whitmore believed that “Gallwey was the first to
demonstrate a simple and comprehensive method of coaching that could be readily applied to
almost any situation” (Dueease, 2009).
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In recent decades, coaching appeared in the late 1970’s in the business world, seemingly as a
response to changes in leadership models and business culture. Then in the 1980’s coaching
began to appear outside the business context. In the 1990’s coaching began to emerge as a
distinct discipline. An example of this is the founding of the International Coach Federation, the
most widely respected certifying body in 1995.
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How does coaching work?
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When someone comes to you for help, what is your immediate reaction? You want to help. You
wonder if you have what it takes. This person comes to you and asks a question and you try to
provide the answer or at least think out loud with them to come up with your best guess or best
idea as to what would most help them. If you are a lawyer, accountant, plumber, mechanic,
pastor or other specialist, you seek to answer their questions out of your specialty. That is normal
and in many instances exactly what is needed.
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And what often happens? Many times people reject Other people’s advice. Why? Simply put, it
is not their idea. They did not come up with the “ah-ha” that relieves their seeking answers. It
may not be what they want to hear. It may not be what they expected to hear. They may not be
ready to hear it. In short, the success rate of people hearing, understanding, accepting and
absorbing and acting upon the advice that is given is relatively rare. Certainly there are
exceptions. Often times we go to the expert for advice: doctors, lawyers, etc. Yet even there how
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may of us heed the advice of the professional? We don’t like hearing that we have to lose 25
pounds and so we resist what they say.
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Through coaching there is a shift from this familiar way of helping to a new way to help. It can
be illustrated through the knowledge model below (on the following page) which has been taught
by Internal Impact and whose original source is unknown.
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Coaching!
DKK
KK
Knowledge
Model:
Seminars
Books
College
Etc
KDK
DKDK
Looking at the knowledge model above we start at the bottom where the individual “doesn’t
know what he or she doesn’t know” (DKDK). There are two paths to get to the top of the model
where they will “know what they know” (KK). To the right is the traditional path where people
pursue information and content through seminars, books, college and in so doing they fill in the
gaps of where they “know that they don’t know” (KDK). This eventually gets them to the top of
the model where after the gaps are filled they now “know what they know.” This method results
in 20-40% retention depending on what we do with it once we have learned it.
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Coaching takes the left-sided approach. The circles and triangles represent what one already
knows in their own mind through what they have been taught, plus their own wisdom and
experience. Yet they “don’t know what they know” (DKK). There may be denial, there may be a
blind spot, forgetfulness, they may be stuck in a particular pattern or they may be experiencing
being overwhelmed or they may simply be unaware. Then through coaching the person being
coached is encouraged to search what they know through the coaching questions that are being
asked of them. They begin to search their minds and uncover what they already know and make
connections and discover new insights and awareness’s relative to the challenge at hand.
Compared to the traditional approach to knowledge on the right side where retention is only
20-40%, through coaching they retain 60-80% of what they learn or discover. Then when there is
action added to the new awareness or learning, retention rises to 90-95%.
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So coaching works by taking a different pathway to knowing what you know. Or to put it another
way, coaching helps people ask themselves new questions, to think in ways outside of their
normal patterns, and “put two and two together” so that they see what they need to do, decide
what they need to decide and take action.
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For example, what do called workers do when they receive a call into ministry? Certain things
are standard menu items in order to make the decision to accept or decline a call: prayer,
scripture reading, and the counsel of wise friends and advisors. Yet there are also other
approaches that are often included. How many pastors considering a call didn’t write down two
columns of the positive and negative reasons for accepting a new call? How many of us
appreciated the questions those wise friends and colleagues asked us? Perhaps it was a question
someone asked us. Perhaps it was the way someone summarized what we just said and we heard
it coming back to us in a new way. Then somewhere along the way, the fog blows away and the
decision becomes clear. There may even be an “ah-ha” moment where clear thinking emerged
and the decision became self-evident. Those wise friends know they can’t “tell” their friend what
to do. They are not the Holy Spirit. Yet in these situations many friends and colleagues will help
the one with the call to “think through” the decision. In many ways this is very close to what
happens during coaching. Someone comes along side of you and serves as your “thinking
partner” to serve and assist you in getting out from where you are stuck. Thought in this way,
coaching is not so foreign after all!
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How is coaching different from other helping skills?
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With helping skills other than coaching there is a transfer of information or learning from the
helper to the person being helped. We may call it advice, wisdom, experience, teaching, and so
on. Yet with coaching the expertise for the coach is in their coaching skills, not in transferring
information or knowledge. Therefore the difference between coaching and many other helping
skills is that the coach helps by asking questions instead of helping through telling or sharing
information. To be sure, at times the coach will speak or tell, summarize what is heard and also
ask questions, such as teachers and counselors. Yet as we shall see there is a distinct difference
between the coach and other kinds of helpers.
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In general there is a shift when it comes to coaching:
•
From telling or advising to asking questions
•
From fixing or solving problems to promoting discovery, awareness and intentional
choice
•
From assuming they need your expertise or that you are smarter than they are to
acknowledging that they know a lot and can solve what it is they are facing.
•
From feeling responsible to resolve their problem to leaving the responsibility with the
person being helped.
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So how does this compare to other helping skills?
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Consulting
Perhaps we should first ask, what does a consultant produce? Often the consultant is called in to
help an organization to analyze their situation and help them determine a way forward. They ask
questions, gather data but in the end they deliver a report with recommendations. Yes, they ask
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questions but they help by telling because they are the experts in the field for which they were
hired by the organization. It may be in any one of a million subjects but they bring that expertise
to bear on the organization by telling them what to do. This is often confused with coaching as
some who do one on one consulting tell the person they were working with what to do. But this
is not coaching.
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Teaching
A teacher is someone who is often viewed as the one who stands in front of the class and lectures
about a subject: Math, science, history, etc. The caricature of a teacher is someone in front of a
classroom or lecture hall who presents what they know. So they are the expert in their particular
field and they help the students by telling them more about the subject at hand. To be sure good
teachers ask rhetorical questions of the class yet the primary example of a teacher is that of an
expert sharing their expertise with the class by telling them about it.
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Counseling
What does a counselor do? They are experts in mental health and assisting people to move
forward out of their pathology or hurt. They do that by asking questions to help the counselee to
think. The questions help the counselee to explore out loud what might be behind their problem.
The counselor hopes that they will be able to help raise awareness’s in the counselee so they will
be more healthy and move forward in life unencumbered by their past hurts and struggles. There
may be some advice giving but primarily they help by asking and they are experts in their field.
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The difference between counseling and coaching has been described in this way: the counselor
helps bring someone from a negative place to a normal place. The coach on the other hand brings
someone from a normal place to an even more focused, productive and effective place. Coaching
presumes a certain level of mental health and ability. While some might view working with the
coach as rehabilitative or an indication that they are in a negative place, typically those who are
involved in coaching are those who want to get even better. In the business world, money for
coaching is spent on those high potential leaders to help them get even better faster. Sure, some
who are lagging or struggling may receive coaching but this is not the norm. So coaching is
distinct from counseling while there may be a number of common elements.
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Mentoring
What exactly is a mentor and where did that term “mentor” come from in the first place? It is a
name from Homer’s poem, the Odyssey. The fictional Greek king of Ithaca was named Odysseus
who had a friend named Mentor. As Odysseus was heading off to Troy for the Trojan War, he
entrusted his house and the education of his son Telemachus to Mentor. In fact he said, “Tell him
everything you know.” In business and industry the term is used to describe the older wiser
practitioner who takes a younger protégée under his wing. Then after a time the relationship of
mentor and mentee will shift to one of advocacy where the mentor advocates for his protégé so
he or she will get the promotion. In the church a mentoring relationship this is often compared to
the older senior pastor who takes the younger youth pastor or assistant under his wing to help
them. Likewise it is akin to the vicarage or internship supervisor teaching the younger student
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pastor or intern about the ministry during their internship or vicarage. The mentor has the
wisdom and experience, they are the expert in their field and they help by telling. They may also
ask questions and may tell stories yet the primary benefit of the mentoring relationship is the
wisdom and experience of the older, wiser practitioner being shared with the younger protégé.
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Pastor
What does the average person in the church see the pastor doing every week? They observe them
standing in front of a Bible class, teaching the Bible. They see the pastor in front of the church,
perhaps leading worship and saying the prayers. Yet primarily many perceive the pastor to be the
“preacher.” They are the ones who go to seminary and Bible College to learn about the Bible and
so they are the ones who stand up and tell the people about God and tell them what they need to
consider and to do. Are there exceptions? Sure. Pastors often engage in “pastoral care and
counseling” where they go to the hospital and meet people in their office and speak with them
confidentially about their particular spiritual struggles. They ask questions, they listen, they care,
they read the Bible and they pray and often give advice. Yet in this instance and at their core, the
pastor is primarily the expert by virtue of his training and he helps by telling people that
expertise.
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Advisor
What does an advisor do? By definition they give advice! Certainly that means that they help by
telling. It may or may not be good advice but the role of an advice giver is to tell people what
they think they should do. In that regard an advisor is really a combination of many helping skills
whose foundation is that they perceive themselves to be an expert in some area of knowledge and
choose to help by telling the person about what they think they need to know in their particular
situation.
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Coach
The coach by comparison is not necessarily an expert in a particular field. To be sur they may
have expertise as pastors, teachers or other subject or areas of experience. But what the skilled
coach has as an expertise is in his or her coaching. They see the other person or client as having
expertise in their situation. After all, the coach will never completely understand and appreciate
the nuances of the coach client’s situation. They could tell the coach client what to do but will
they really own it and act upon it? There may be hesitancy for many reasons, one being that the
coach (or in this case, the advisor) doesn’t quite read the situation correctly and so their diagnosis
and prescription are off. But the main goal is ownership and passionately moving forward. A
good coach will help the coach client to understand where they want to go, understand their
current reality, explore possibilities and then chose on their own what they should do. They
worked through it with their coach and in the end they own the idea, the choice in what to do and
also the outcomes afterward. There is no scapegoating to the helper if there is a problem. The
coach didn’t tell them what to do. The coach was a thinking partner for their exploring and
choosing what to do whether the step was large or small.
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What does the coach bring to the helping relationship?
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Does the coach have any expertise? Yes! A coach’s expertise is in their coaching skill! But you
may be wondering, “doesn’t it help if the coach knows something about the subject around
which they are coaching?” Sure. They will then be familiar with the language and pressures and
needs for that particular situation, yet the good coach will refrain from letting their solutions bias
the thinking and responsibility for the problem of the person being coached. Coaching leverages
the person’s own wisdom and experience so they will discover and buy into their own way
forward. If the coach begins to slip into telling mode where they in essence “consult” the person
being coached, then that is not coaching.
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Yet the problem with expertise is that it will always seek to be demonstrated. This is especially a
concern with a coach who may feel the need to bring value through solutions or answers to the
coaching client’s problems. If the coach thinks that they have been in the coaching client’s
situation before or thinks they know the answer to their problem based upon their own wisdom
or experience it may unconsciously get in the way of good coaching. This means that the coach
will be careful to self manage and not seek to understand everything the person being coached is
experiencing. The coach will not ask questions that will help them (the coach) know all the
circumstances around the issue. They will also resist being drawn into an evaluative mode that
gives feedback as to the rightness or wrongness of a chosen solution by the person being
coached. To be sure they will have an opinion yet they will seek to bring value through good
coaching not in telling or judging what the client is doing or chooses to do. The exception of
course is if it is outside the boundaries of what has been chosen to be acceptable such as anything
that is un-biblical, unethical or harmful to the client or others.
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Furthermore, the coach who needs to build their self-esteem off the coaching client is in a very
weak position to be a powerful coach. A coach is most powerful when they serve the other
person’s thinking process, help them to own the problem and discover the solution. If the coach
begins to ask leading questions or point their coaching client in the direction of their
preconceived solution then they may be sacrificing a more creative or powerful solution to the
problem. Yet if the coach can self-manage their words and actions and demeanor then it may
prove to be a great resource for asking the right questions and serving their clients more
powerfully.
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When should coaching be used?
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Having gone through these various definitions of common helping skills and compared them to
coaching doesn’t mean that coaching is superior or should be used in place of all others. There is
a definite time and place for each helping skill. They each have value for specific needs and
situations. If it is an emergency or there are strict time constraints then coaching is not the
answer. The leader does not coach people out of a burning building. This would be a time
sensitive or emergency situation and a leader should simply tell people where to go and how to
get there. If there is a need for new information or technical knowledge then coaching is not the
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answer. Sometimes classroom learning or reading new material and content is the best thing that
is needed. On the other hand, if there is a concern for quality or maximizing the learning for
people and facilitating their forward movement, then coaching is the best choice.
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This is often the case when a person faces an adaptive challenge. They may know “how” to do
something (technical expertise) but they fail in actually doing what they know how to do. This
adaptive challenge is uniquely fitted to coaching as coaching will assist the person being coached
to look at where they are, where they need to be, what gets in the way of their action, what
conflicting values may interfere and then challenge them with establishing new goals and action
steps with accountability. This is a very common experience for people. They know what to do
but for some reason are stuck where they are and will not move forward. Coaching is a powerful
antidote.
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Can or should coaching be used in instances of spiritual or pastoral care?
If a Christian coach sees who they are in Christ as His baptized child, sees themselves in service
to the other, and in love seeks to help, then coaching can be a powerful resource or additional
tool for the caring spiritual shepherd. While proclaiming law and gospel, teaching the Bible,
catechesis, pastoral care or “seelsorge” (cure of souls) will be standard items in the pastor’s
toolkit, there can also be a place for coaching. It is yet another way of engaging people to think
about their spiritual life and relationship to their God and Savior. What will that look like? It will
most likely look like a shift from “telling” people what to do to helping them through deep
listening and questions to help people think things through. It is a way for them to consider
where they are and where God would want them to be and then determine what they will do,
empowered by Christ through His Word and sacraments. It is a way to courageously invite them
to be intentional in what they will do in being faithful disciples as they repent and believe and
follow Jesus. Thus coaching is not a replacement or a superior way to be a faithful shepherd yet
it is an additional approach that may prove helpful in many cases.
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Coaching may also serve as an adjunct to other helping skills. For the individual or couple that is
wondering what to do next, for the medical patient who is talking with their pastor about
treatment options, coaching can be a great source of service. The pastor would not want to tell
the patient what to do but will assist them through coaching to think through their goals, their
options and their decision.
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What place can coaching play in leading a church?
The application of coaching will not only include how a Christian leader works with people
regarding their spiritual life but also as a Christian leader or pastor engages with fellow staff and
volunteer leaders at their church. Much of the day-to-day work of church life involves organizing
projects, programs and other forms of work. It involves meetings that are formal and informal,
planning and encouraging people from experienced leaders to those just getting started. In each
of these settings, coaching is a powerful resource to serve those who serve. In the minds of some,
the pastor is looked at as not only the expert in the Bible and theology but also in other issues of
management and leadership. For others, the pastoral leader is discounted because he has
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expertise that is limited to the Bible and theology. The pastor may even look at himself in one of
these two ways. Both can be a problem. In the former they may be wrong and in the latter the
pastoral leader may have some wisdom that should be considered. Coaching is a good solution in
both cases. Coaching will not produce dependency on the part of the called or paid staff and
volunteer leaders. But the Christian coach leader will engage with people with a Biblical and
theological worldview and the larger perspective of what Jesus wants for His church. The
Christian coaching leader will assist people to assume appropriate responsibility and grow in
their knowledge and skills and actually do what is needed. There will be respect and an honoring
of the gifts that God provides both to the pastor and the priesthood of believers through good
Christian coaching.
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That may look like the pastor engaging in the dialogue in the council meeting or board meeting
with questions, helping the group to think about the issue with God in mind, with the greater
good of the community in mind, with the church’s shared vision in mind. It may also look like
the pastor asking clarifying questions not only about the issue at hand but also after the solution
is agreed upon. For example the pastor can ask who will do what and when so that everyone is
aware of what has been decided and exactly what can be expected or exactly will be done. This is
using coaching skills for the benefit of the ministry without the pastor telling what should be
done and thus setting himself up as the person to be agreed with or challenged. Power plays and
dependency are avoided and there is broad ownership of the solution and action steps. All
healthy ways the church can live together and move forward.
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Are there any standards or oversight in the world of coaching?
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The international Coach Federation (ICF) began in 1995 and has established a list of coaching
competencies and ethical standards for coaches. They have also established a process of
evaluating and credentialing coaches based upon those competencies. Furthermore they work
with educational entities granting their approval should their coach educational content and
process conform to those competencies and standards. Over the years their process has been
continually updated and the requirements are considered quite demanding and rigorous.
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The competencies for coaching that the ICF identifies are:
1. Setting the Foundation
a. Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards
b. Establishing the coaching agreement
2. Co-creating the relationship
a. Establishing trust and intimacy with the client
b. Coaching presence
3. Communicating effectively
a. Active listening
b. Powerful questioning
c. Direct communication
4. Facilitating learning and results
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a.
b.
c.
d.
Creating awareness
Designing actions
Planning and goal setting
Managing progress and accountability
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Some “Commandments” for Christian Coaching
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Coaching is not a replacement for catechesis or kerygma
Coaching is a wonderful helping skill. It is powerfully used to assist people to think through
what they know, see where and why they do not do what they need to do and then make plans
and set goals for where they need to go. This does not mean that there is no room for catechesis
or kerygma. There is always room for additional teaching of the Word and for others to preach to
them and point out what they need to know of what they do not see for themselves. Christian
catechetical education, Bible study and preaching are mainstays of the way of the Christian.
Having said that the opposite is also true. When one has Catechesis, Bible study and the
preaching of the Word, there is also a place for dialogue where people can work with another for
growth and development as Christians and as those who seek to fulfill a certain calling or
vocation. For example, “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17), certain offices in the church work to
“prepare God’s people for works of service” (Eph 4:12), and we are called to encourage one
another (Ron 12:8; 1 Thes 5:11; Heb 10:5 and others). Therefore there is also value in the
conversation and consolation of the brothers. This can be through dialogue that looks and sounds
like coaching.
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Coaching is not for every situation and is therefore not a cure all
If there is an emergency or time concerns, coaching is not advisable. In these situations, which
are often unavoidable beforehand, the voice of authority needs to speak for the safety and well
being of others. “Walk quickly and calmly to the exits” to avoid a fire needs to be said by one
voice for all to hear and take heed.
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Yet if the goal is personal development or maximizing the learning then coaching is well advised.
This allows the one who is to develop, learn or grow to wrestle with the relevant material,
information or facts and integrate them into their lives and behavior.
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Coaching is not manipulation or leading them where you want them to go
A good lawyer asks questions of which he or she knows the answer. Then a good lawyer will
guide the witness to the testimony they want to hear. Not so with a good coach. Coaches best
serve their coach clients by taking advantage of where the coach client is already motivated or
interested. This takes advantage of the pre-existing buy in of their interest or concern. To that end
the coach will inquire of what it is they want to accomplish and ask questions to attain new
insights or discoveries that will inspire them to new actions. In many instances of coaching, there
will be pre-determined subject areas that will require attention and work. In this instance the
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coach and coaching client have already agreed what it is that they are interested in or motivated
to address.
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If the coach wants to tell them what to do and merely uses questions to take them there, then that
is not coaching. It is manipulation. The coach best serves the coach client by advocating for the
client and their interest or concern, not the coaches interest or concern. Having said that, the
coach can certainly bring up what the two may have in common and identify values and beliefs
that will potentially shape the outcome of the coaching conversation. For example, if both coach
and coach client are Christians then it would not be manipulation for the coach to ask the coach
client to name the boundaries of Biblical truths and sound doctrine that will shape where they
want to go. In that case it is acknowledging what is already true for them. Having said that, a
Christian coach working with someone who is not a Christian will not want to be a party to
coaching someone toward an action or decision that is not God pleasing. In that instance the
coach will be up front and honest and decline the coaching relationship and bear witness to their
faith with the person being coached.
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Coaching through questions does not equate to being soft on sin or dispensing cheap grace
The implication that questions somehow relieve the person being coached from facing their sin is
a misconception about coaching. Just because the coach does not “preach” at the person
proclaiming law and gospel does not mean that this is not taking place. Refer to the case of God
seeking out Adam in the garden and you find deep conviction of sin through God’s questioning.
Questions are often very challenging to answer! Asking someone to speak to their current reality
of sin and then to confess what brought them there is humbling and shameful. To be a coach
asking those questions and many others takes courage! A good coach has the courage to ask
questions that challenge assumptions, put them on the “hot seat” to rethink what they are doing
and where they are going. Questions encourage one to search their assumptions or what they are
denying. It invites one to gauge how what they are thinking and doing coincides with God’s
revealed will and His desire to be gracious and merciful. Questions can indeed preach law and
gospel.
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Coaching is not only dialogue through questions.
Yes, the prevailing framework for a coaching dialogue is questions. However, it is much more
than that. There is listening, observing, acknowledging what they are saying and doing and
therefore affirming them. There are clarifying, reflecting and synthesizing statements by the
coach that are given, often bringing together what has been said over many appointments. There
are indeed times for direct messages which speak the truth in love and the coach will at times be
identifying actions. Coaching has been described as “co-active” proposition where the person
being coached is the primary partner in the collaboration. Therefore coaching is not just asking
questions but involves other elements involved in a dialogue and the related skills.
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Coaching should be dismissed because it takes too long. People should just accept the truth as it
is told to them and act upon it.
One would wish that things could be that simple. However, we know from our own experience
and research that people often do not accept what another tells them and infrequently puts it into
practice. If this were not true, then doctors could count on simply telling the heart patient to
change their diet and lifestyle. Pastors could count on simply telling people to bear witness to
their faith and the people would quickly conform. Yet human beings and human relationships do
not work that way. This is parallel to the truth from Romans 7:8, “sin, seizing the opportunity
afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.” In other words,
our sinful nature resists admitting sin and often that resistance turns to rebelliousness in doing
what is forbidden. Or even more plainly, when we are told what to do, we are like the young
child who rebels and says “no” or in their rebellion does the exact opposite.
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Yes, coaching takes time. Yet in careful coaching, with the elements of listening and asking
questions we can unearth the core issues that have not been dealt with for a long time, if at all.
Short advice giving conversations or supervision seems to “cut to the chase” and tell people what
they need to do, but unless we listen to what is really getting in the way and deal with it then we
will be looking at the same problem for years and years. Coaching therefore is going slow at first
in order to move much faster in the future.
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The call is to speak the truth but there is a necessity to work with people through the concerns at
hand. Through courageous coaching, people can begin to face their adaptive challenges and
change erroneous beliefs, false assumptions and improper behaviors. To work with people to
change takes time and the desire on the part of the person being coached. This is about doing the
hard work of learning to think different, different from their false assumptions that they believed
in the first place. It is hard work. It takes time and patience. Yet once dealt with progress moves
rapidly.
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Concluding Thoughts
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Coaching is not so new after all. It is a combination of things that have been used for millennia.
Listening, asking questions for various purposes, guarding the agenda of the person being
coached for their own sake, challenging their assumptions, reflecting back with them, and then
asking them what they will do as a result of the dialogue. Yet it is not simply another confidential
conversation with a friend but a system of working with people where they maintain
responsibility for their thinking and actions and the coach is the partner who supports them in the
journey. It is flexible enough to be used informally or formally, one on one or with groups.
Coaching is for the sake of greater growth, development and productivity. It can be used for
mundane things or significant life decisions. Coaching is a blessing to be received.
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Coaching, like anything else can be used for good or for evil, with good intent or for bad. It can
conform to one’s preconceived worldview whether it be Christian or not. Yet the Christian who is
also a coach has the blessing of being “in Christ” where there is law and gospel yet the gospel
predominates. The Christian coach, empowered by Christ, can bring a true “grace space” to
coaching where there is not only personal growth but spiritual growth as the person being
coached intentionally goes forward empowered by Christ.
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If you have other insights into coaching or other questions about coaching that we can add to this
“catechism” please share them with us at [email protected]
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Bibliography of some coaching books from a Christian perspective:
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Collins, G. (2002). Christian Coaching. Colorado Springs: Navpress
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Creswell, J. (2006). Christ Centered Coaching. St. Louis; Lake Hickory Resources
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Hall, C., Copper, B., McElveen, K., (2009). Faith Coaching. Hickory, NC: Coach
Approach Ministries
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Miller, L., Hall, C., (2007). Coaching for Christian Leaders. St. Louis: Chalice Press
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Stoltzfus, T. (2005). Leadership Coaching. Virginia Beach, VA: www.Coach22.com
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Stoltzfus, T. (2008). Coaching Questions. Virginia Beach, VA: www.Coach22.com
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About Scott:
Scott Gress graduated from Concordia Seminary St. Louis and received his Masters of
Divinity in 1988. Prior to seminary he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and
worked for ADP, Automatic Data Processing.
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In December of 2003 he completed a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Palm
Beach Atlantic University where he was also named the outstanding graduate of the
MacArthur School of Leadership. He has served as an adjunct professor of
Organizational Leadership at PBAU.
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He has also completed 122 hours of coaches training through The Coaches Training
Institute. In 2009 he was certified as a Transforming Church’s Network (TCN)
consultant. He is a member of the International Coach Federation from which he is
certified as an Associate Certified Coach. He is continuing to grow as a coach through
Internal Impact with 60 hours of advanced coach training earning their Global Certificate
in Leadership Coaching in March of 2013.
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Scott has served as a parish pastor after his ordination in 1988, circuit counselor for 11
years and also First Vice President of the FL-GA District briefly prior to accepting his
current call in April of 2010 where he serves TCN as a Director of Coaching and as a
special coach consultant to the FL-GA District. Scott and his wife Maria have two boys,
Nathan and Stephen.
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Copyright © 2014 C. Scott Gress. All rights reserved
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