In the last issue of the Equipper, I introduced the concept of life and ministry coaching. A distinction was made between teaching, training, mentoring and coaching. The major difference is that coaching helps one to personally apply the first three (teaching, training and mentoring) into a set of life goals based on the individuality of the person. Additionally, coaching helps you to effectively pursue and accomplish your goals.
In the next issue, a process based on biblical principles will be outlined. Before looking at the process it is good to consider the “why.” Like most people, many pastors do not really see the need for a coach. We generally have the feeling “we don’t need help.” Sometimes our self-confidence results in actually limiting our potential.
A few of the primary considerations for having a life and/or ministry coach are as follows:
1. Coaching is based on biblical examples. There are a number of examples both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that could be used. Often the coaching relationship begins with training and/or mentoring. The relationship of Paul and Timothy began as a mentoring relationship. Once Timothy was appointed to his position, Paul’s letters of 1 and 2 Timothy increasingly represented a more personal relationship like coaching.
The Barnabas and John Mark relationship again involved mentoring but also coaching. John Mark had to learn his personal strengths and weaknesses before he could effectively be used on the “mission.”
Coaching examples in Scripture are often a follow-up to mentoring.
2. Biblical coaching helps a person to have a deeper and truer understanding of self. Key verses for me in coaching are For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Rom 12:3 [ESV). We often either think too highly of ourselves or sometimes we think too little of ourselves. A goal in coaching is developing a “sober” or sound judgment about ourselves. Coaching provides an objective understanding of ourselves.
3. Coaching offers a safe/confidential place. A pastor, in particular, often does not have anyone he can share openly with, other than perhaps his wife. A coaching relationship offers a place to share feelings without fear of judgment. If there is a sin issue, this is place to share and discover biblical forgiveness and restoration.
4. Coaching helps people deal with stress. We all have stress in our lives. A coach can help you understand your stress and find stress relievers. Sometimes a coach needs to simply remind us to take time away from the stress. Being able to openly share your feelings is often a major relief in times of stress.
I have known and coached some pastors who came out of the professional world of management. They have clearly expressed that the stress of pastoral ministry often exceeds anything they experienced in business. A coaching relationship provides a support based on relationship.
5. Coaching builds confidence. Biblically based coaching helps us to use and remember our strengths. A coach helps us to follow directives found in Philippians 4:4-9.
Rejoice in the Lord always . . .do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. . . whatever is true, . . . honorable, . . . just, . . .pure, . . . lovely, . . . commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things . . . and the God of peace will be with you.
6. Coaching helps to balance life and ministry. Life and ministry coaching is not telling or even teaching you what to do. It is more about checking our balance between all of life and ministry. One of the major challenges in ministry is to not allow the church/ministry to become priority over family and life. A coach is able to help you to see when there is an imbalance.
Why should you consider a coach? Having a coach follows a biblical model that confronts weaknesses, prevents failures, and strengthens us to balance life and ministry.