I keep an advertisement for dog food I tore out of a magazine on the top of my coaching materials. It is a picture of a dog looking right at the camera and the print says, “He’s not a pet, He’s a life coach.” There is some truth to that assertion. It is true that a dog is a great listener and generally non-judgmental. They rarely give you unwanted advice and they usually offer encouragement and positive affirmation. That is the beginning of what is means to have a coach. But, it’s just the beginning.
Coaching is a term that has become popular to cover a wide variety of roles. At the Center for Healthy Churches, our coaches are trained and many are accredited either through the International Coach Federation or the Center for Credentialing & Education. This training is important because it allows the client to know they are getting a professional that knows how to maximize their time and interaction for positive results.
Combining our ministry in the church setting with the coach training makes the CHC coaches excellent resources for church staff. A coach can help a church staff person move forward in their lives professionally, personally and spiritually.
But, what is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation describes coaching as “partnering with clients in a though provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” When I am talking to a potential client, I describe coaching like this,
“Do you know how when you are trying to work something out in your head, you tend to think in circles? Coaching allows you to think outloud with someone listening and helping you move forward rather than having your thoughts go around and around.”
A key element of coaching is the fact that “Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work.” (ICF)
So, what does the coach do?
*Establish a connection with the client and determine the topic or issue to be covered during a session
*Encourage the client to move along a path of self discovery
*Elicit solutions and a plan of action from the client through thought provoking directed questions.
*Help the client determine their success and progress
To be perfectly honest, I entered coaching with a degree of skepticism.But, during my training I saw demonstrations of how effective coaching can be. I was also impressed with the efficiency of coaching. Progress can be made quickly, even during and after the first session.
As I have gained experience coaching clients, I am completely convinced that coaching is a worthwhile investment for a church or an individual. Through coaching, church staff are able to apply the concept of simple reframing which in turn helps them to have a fresh perspective on situations within the staff, within the congregation and within their personal lives. It is a way to untangle confusing situations and come up with a viable concrete plan of action that is empowering. As coach Joy Hosey writes, “Part of my job as a coach is helping clients find new ways of perceiving old problems.”
Leading a church today is challenging on many levels. Working with a coach is a way for churches to help their ministers and leaders move toward living out their calling in a positive, productive manner.