My whole professional life, I've primarily been producing programs. Camps, retreats, workshops, sermons - all of those are programmatic elements that provided content to participants, whether they be retreat guests, campers or church leaders. Often, though, there would be these conversations in between the programming. Follow-up phone calls, chats over a meal, things like that. One pastor nearly knocked me over after a workshop so we could talk more in-depth about his church.
I discovered quickly that for me, those conversations were the best part of it all! I loved helping people take an idea and ask all the right questions to see how it might be applicable to a problem they were trying to solve or a goal they had set for themselves.
I found out later - that's coaching.
It's complicated, because the word "coach" has a lot of meanings, the most common of which is in relation to sports. A coach trains, instructs and strategizes for an athlete or team. If a team or athlete wins, the coach gets credit too. We talk about "winning coaches" in addition to winning teams.
But when we're talking about ministry coaching, it's very different. Coaching is all about the goals of the client. It's all about bringing out the potential already there rather than giving new skills or training. It's about making someone who's good even better.
If we're going to use a metaphor, it's actually more like having a running partner. Someone who has agreed to travel the same path with you, encouraging you along the way, and helping you ask the right questions as you choose directions, encounter roadblocks and begin to fatigue.
Recently during a coaching training, a group of us were asked to write a short definition of coaching. Here were the results:
- Coaching is providing accompaniment to help you do what you do best, better.
- Coaching is walking alongside an individual/group as they pursue transforming change.
- Coaching is a mutually agreed upon journey of discerning most faithful steps shepherded by a committed listener.
- Coaching is an intentional process of accompanying, equipping and challenging leaders to dream, design and enact the change they are called to live into.
- Coaching is a journey of partners, marked with creative conversations that inspire and empower a person or group to achieve extraordinary results.
I imagine you can pick mine out among the crowd, but I keep the others in mind as well. It's inspirational to think about what can be accomplished with the right accompaniment.
So, what about you?
What are you good at, but want to become better?
What transforming change do you want to pursue?
What journey of discernment do you want to begin?
What do you want to dream, design and enact?
What extraordinary results do you want to achieve?