Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity
  • Intellectual: Challenge for clarity

This week I shift focus to the analytic aspects of coaching.

Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

We have a saying around my home – “exercise to energize”. I’ve modified that saying slightly to apply to coaching: analyze to energize. Help the person you are coaching thoroughly understand the problem until they see the path forward.

How many times have you been working with a disciplemaker, and through asking powerful questions to reflect; the answer has mysteriously come to the forefront of their minds. I believe that happens more often than not when we are true to the coaching process. The results can be transformational.

Over the last 30 years a large part of my work has been in training and developing missional leaders in coaching. Most leaders who have been coaching for a while have done an adequate job using their intuition. Intuition can take a leader pretty far. But to move from good to great, helping to empowering, or effective to strategic requires three key components:

  • Comprehensive coaching process
    • Answers the questions – “What do I need to do every time I engage in a coaching conversation?”
  • Mastery of the key coaching skills
    • Answers the questions – “What skills do I need to develop to engage in a coaching conversation?”
  • Principle-based framework 
    • Answers the questions – “What topics will I coach leaders on to cultivate disciplemaking movements?”

By this I mean, if you are coaching a leader to refine their disciplemaking process, church planting process or leadership pipeline – you have a framework that you use to help the leader assess their process. You may not be fully aware that you have one, but you are consciously or subconsciously operating from your experience. Or the leader you are coaching may have that process already in hand through the network they participate in. In either case, it is imperative that the framework you use to formulate questions is built on principles. Why is this so? If your process is linked tightly to a particular model you will discover limitations. Especially when you work across denominations, cultures or with diverse leaders.

For instance, I have been working with a disciplemaker in Southeast Asia. Over the last five years he has collaborated with a network of missionaries who have catalyzed a disciplemaking movement. To-date, about 400 Discovery Bible Studies have been birthed, with some groups reproducing to the third and fourth generation. In addition, two new church plants have been birthed from their efforts.

If I came in with a western model of disciplemaking I could do more harm than good. However, if the disciplemaking process is based on principles, then the questions I ask will come from a more global understanding of disciplemaking and not direct the leader down a path that will lead them to a distinctly western model.

This leader has seen the necessity of coaching in a disciplemaking movement. The reason why many movements stall-out in the first generation it due to the leader’s inability to release the need to control the outcome. Once again, when a principle-based approach is taken – the fruit tends to be healthier. The leader will posture himself/herself in the role of catalyst which results in reproduction into the second, third and fourth generation.

The framework I use is called the Leadership Multiplication Pathway Storyboard. When you take a closer look, you see four phases of development, each with it’s own storyboard:

  1. Character – Missional Discipleship 
  2. Calling – Focused Ministry 
  3. Competency – Effective Leadership 
  4. Culture – Continuous Multiplication 

You can read more about the system by clicking here and downloading the article at the bottom of the page.

The storyboard is simply a tool. It is the technical side of coaching. The relational side is you, and what you bring to the equation.

Here are five principle-focused questions to coach a disciplemaking movement leader:

  1. What is a disciple?
  2. Describe your disciplemaking process?
  3. What is missing in your process?
  4. What do you need to change?
  5. What it your next step?

Whatever framework you use, it is important to understand the nuances, strengths and limitations of the process you use. The strength of the storyboards are the principles they are based upon. This allows for diverse applications regardless of model of ministry, contextual issues or leadership approaches.

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #4 – You can’t want something for someone else, more than they want it themselves

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #4 – You can’t want something for someone else, more than they want it themselves

I began coaching in 1988 – 30 years ago.

The term coaching was introduced in the early 1980’s in the business arena and re-invented in the ministry world – especially in church planting circles during the late 1980’s. Coaching has evolved from a new idea to a best practice in most ministry networks where leaders are developed, congregations are becoming healthy, and new churches are planted. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach leaders to start all kinds of churches and pioneer disciplemaking movements.

Lessons I’ve gleaned:

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the spiritual (Discern the will of the Father and help those you coach, do the same), relational (Value the other person) and personal (Embrace your unique contribution) foundations of coaching. This week I shift the focus to the interpersonal foundation of the leader or team you coach.

Lesson #4 – You can’t want something for someone else, more than they want it themselves

I love attending The Global Leadership Summit hosted by The Willowcreek Association every August. It is THE gathering of leadership experts from the business (secular) and ministry (sacred) arenas. In fact, in 2008 I invited my son Joel (who was 12 at the time) and my daughter Zoe (at about the same age) a few years later, to share the experience with me. This has become our highlight of the year – bar none. I would encourage you to attend this event with your team next year.

This year we heard Angela Duckworth speak on the topic of “grit” from her research and book entitled “Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance”. She is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the practice of character development. I am taking the idea of grit and relating it to the “commitment level” of a leader.

Duckworth defines “grit” as sustained passion and perseverance for long-term goals. She further explained that passion and perseverance stood out in her research based on responses to the following:


  • I am a hard worker
  • I finish what I start


  • My interests change from year to year
  • It is difficult for me to stay focused on projects more than a couple of months

The good news is that “grit”, according to Duckworth, can be developed.

How does this apply to coaching?

I’ve discovered that when a person has true grit, it is an extremely different experience vs. a person lacking this quality. When the commitment level is commensurate to the task at hand, then the person has the “grit” to succeed. Duckworth said it like this: Skill x Effort = Achievement.  Let me illustrate, with my wife’s experience as a health coach.

When Gina coaches an individual on their journey to health, she asks the person to define their “why” with a question: “Why do you want to lose weight and gain health?” The answers are varied and normally require further reflection to clarify, for instance: “I want to lose weight to be able to touch my toes” – might be the initial response. Upon further reflection, that person may realize the deeper motivation is to be able to play with their grand-children and not be sidelined prematurely. The more Gina helps people unpack their “why” the more they can tap into their intrinsic motivation. The challenge for the health coach (Gina), is managing her expectations.

Let’s circle back around and bring this into a ministry context. Imagine a leader you have coached. The lead pastor/planter/team leader is challenged to change direction at a critical juncture in the development of the church they lead and ask for coaching. It is imperative that you assess their commitment level. This will determine if they are willing and able to make the shift.

A common shift that I have coached leaders through is the place disciplemaking groups play in their church, e.g. will they be a church with small groups or “of” small groups. Many will say “yes” to the latter but do not fully understand the cost organizationally, and to their leadership. The more established the church, the more challenging this shift.

Here is the reason I am explaining this concept of “grit” as it relates to coaching. Once you identify the motivation or “why” a person wants to influence a change along with their level of commitment, you as their coach must not want it more than them. Plain and simple. Once you establish their motivation + commitment, the best way to serve them is to meet them where they are.

If you cross that invisible line and reveal that you actually want “it” more than they do, you have entered the “struggle to be you” zone of coaching. The s2bU zone is when you have lost objectivity and put yourself in the seat of the leader you are coaching. In effect, you are coaching yourself – don’t do this! It is not helpful to the person, it is embarrassing for you, and is the quickest way to unravel a coaching relationship. I know; I have crossed this line before, and these risks are real.

Here is a checklist to keep you from entering the S2bU zone:

Regarding your client:

  1. What does this person want to achieve?
  2. Do they understand what it requires?
  3. How do you assess their commitment level?

Regarding you:

  1. What adjustments do you need to make to adapt to their commitment level?
  2. Do you want this more than them?

Next week I will share another insight that I’ve learned as the Lord has allowed me to partner with leaders who are making a significant contribution to the work of cultivating disciplemaking movements.

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #2 – Value the other person

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #2 – Value the other person

I began coaching in 1988.  I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach leaders to start all kinds of churches & pioneer disciple-making movements.  Last week I began sharing lessons that I’ve learned from coaching some of the most amazingly gifted, truly faithful & hard-working leaders serving in the Lord’s Church today. Here is a list of lessons that I’ve gleaned:

Lesson #1 – Discern the will of the Father

Last week I focused on the importance of the spiritual foundation in coaching. Discern the will of the Father and helping those you coach, do the same. This week, I will focus on the relational foundation.

Lesson #2 – Value the other person

You must earn the trust of the leader you coach in order for them to engage in the coaching process.

A teeter-totter works when two participants have figured out how to balance the relationship of one end of the teeter-totter with the other end. A coach must learn to gauge the:

  • commitment level of the leader to the objective
  • engagement level of the leader to the coaching process
  • trust level of the leader to the relationship

Trust is the fulcrum of the coaching relationship.  One of the best ways to unravel a coaching relationship, or any relationship for that matter, is to break trust.

Here is a list of ten questions I’ve gleaned over the years to build and maintain trust:

Ten Trust-building Reflection Questions:

  1. Under promise: What are realistic expectations for this coaching relationship?
  2. Over deliver: How can I coach this leader to surpass their goal?
  3. Be prompt: What do I need to sacrifice to be on time?
  4. Keep confidence: What must I do to maintain confidentiality?
  5. Direct lines of communication: Who must I speak to in this situation?
  6. Admit when mistakes are made: What is the best way for me to approach the leader affected?
  7. Reschedule as soon as possible: What potential conflicts do I see in my coaching schedule?
  8. Do what you say: What commitments do I know I will keep?
  9. Connect peopleWho do I know that could uniquely relate to the leader I am coaching?
  10. Pay it forward: How can I bless this leader through a random act of kindness?

Next week I will share another lesson that I’ve learned as the Lord has allowed me to partner with leaders who are making a significant contribution to the work of cultivating disciplemaking movements.  Leaders who have been instrumental in raising up leaders, making disciples & starting new ministries. Missional leaders who understand the force when the DNA of multiplication is integrated in the very essence of everything that they do and releasing control!

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

The conversation goes something like this.

Coach asks: “Who is doing effective ministry in your area?” 

  • Leader responds: “Everyone is struggling with the same issues.”

Coach asks: “What other models of church are you familiar with in your region or in other parts of the country?”

  • Leader: “I’m not aware of other models.”

Coach asks: “Who do you know that could introduce you to a different way of doing church?”

  • Leader: “I don’t know anyone.”

Coach asks: “Would you be open to learning about one leader who has an effective model?”

And the conversation continues.  I use that question as a last resort so that I don’t short-change the self-discovery process. The guiding principle I follow when I provide feedback is:

  1. The leader must exhaust all their resources.
  2. There is the possibility the leader could do some real damage.
  3. Permission has been given by the leader to the coach.

Honestly, the temptation to give advice is always present.  But I know deep down that “struggle” is the best teacher!

What do you do when you come to that juncture in your coaching?  Under what circumstances do you give advice?  I would love to hear what you do.

If you are interested to hear about a different approach to doing church, watch this 17 minute video with Dave Ferguson interviewing Ralph Moore.  Ralph discusses some of the tensions accompanying church planting as a movement leader.  Learn how a church committed to reproducing disciples, leaders and churches keeps the main thing, the MAIN thing!.



Coaching Tip – Adjustments to make when coaching Traditionals, Boomers, Gen Xers & Millenials

Coaching Tip – Adjustments to make when coaching Traditionals, Boomers, Gen Xers & Millenials

Coaching a 40-something leader I discovered a significant difference when coaching his Gen X counterpart.  My mature friend was focused on achieving his goals; however, he was not as concerned about his work-life balance in comparison to his younger counterpart.  That insight informed ways I could engage each.

Further, while the goal they were both pursuing was similar, the path they took was very different.  Both were eager to establish a new church or ministry.

With the more seasoned leader I asked more task-oriented, “what” kind of questions:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is in your way?
  • What can you do to expand?

And more relational, “who” kind of questions with the younger planter:

  • Who will it reach?
  • Who could it miss?
  • Who else can you include?

These are broad generalizations, yet subtle differences reveal different approaches to can engage different people from different generations.

For further insight in generational differences, see the following 1-page resources under Generational Differences:

  • Generational Characteristics
  • Generational Core Values
  • Generational Leadership Style Preferences
  • Generational Motivation Preferences
  • Generational Team Preferences
  • Generational Communication Preferences


Coaching across generations

Coaching across generations

How do you work with someone who has been in the workforce for thirty years (50+ years of age) as opposed to three years (30-40’s years of age)?  Take into consideration the following scenario.

First time church planter (in their 30’s) – high on vision & low on experience.  I coached a new church planter who primarily asked “how to” questions to process his philosophy of ministry, challenges he encountered and self-discovered action steps.  I challenged his thinking by asking pointed questions to help him realize that he has the resources inside himself to take the next steps in his church planting journey.  The new church planter is in many ways, unaware of what he/she does not know.

Contrast him with a seasoned leader – high on vision & high on experience.  The seasoned leader (50+ years of age) asked “what” and “when” questions.  He has a rich experience base to draw from and his confidence runs deep.  The seasoned leader is in many ways more aware of what he/she does not know.

Following are reflection questions for you as the coach to consider during the when coaching across generational lines:

  • What questions are they asking?
  • What kind of help are they seeking from you?
  • What is the best way for you to support them as a coach?

There exists real differences that are important to recognize when coaching across generational and experiential lines – see the Generational Differences resources for more insight into these subtleties.