Lessons I’ve gleaned after coaching missional leaders for 30 years:
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
This week I shift focus to the creativity of coaching.
Lesson #5 – Help people tap into their creativity
I’ve mentioned that I enjoy 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. I would encourage you to attend this event with your team next year.
This year we heard Fredrik Haren speak on the topic of “creativity” from his bestselling publication, “The Idea Book”. I am taking the concept of creativity and relating it to the “core purpose” of coaching a leader.
Haren began by asking 3 questions in his global research:
- How many people think creativity is important to their job? 98% globally
- How many people believe they are creative? 45% globally
- Does your company/organization develop your creativity? 2% globally
Key Learning – based on his research, there is no correlation between 1 & 3.
It raises an important question for coaching: What role should a coach play in developing the creativity of leaders we coach?
Furthermore, Haren continues his examination of creativity by offering a definition for the word “idea.” According to Haren, an idea occurs when two abstract, seemingly unrelated concepts are combined in a new and novel way.
Another way of saying this is: Creative Idea = Person (Knowledge + Idea)
Let’s apply this to coaching.
Let’s say the church planter you are coaching has a vision for a different kind of church. I have been working with a planter for the last 18 months. Bruce Persons is planting The Table Church. The challenge for Bruce is to reach one of the most invisible, under-reached & under-resourced communities in the world: the Deaf and hard of hearing.
Here is how Bruce describes the unique vision of The Table Church:
- TTC is a church plant in Frederick, MD with a vision for rapid multiplication.
- TTC uses Facebook heavily, to reach remote locations of the world.
- TTC follows a sort of an organic, cell church model.
- TTC uses video because we are reaching a people group who uses American Sign Language to communicate.
- TTC’s goal is to make the gospel accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing community through ASL.
Bruce saw the opportunity.
- Knowledge – isolation of the Deaf and hard of hearing community
- Idea – leverage the internet to reach this “invisible” group of people
With a focus on smaller communities of faith, he discovered that the internet through the use of Facebook, could cast his net wide while meeting the relational needs in smaller gatherings. As a result of streaming his sermons, 1,500 people have logged-in to worship services. This is a great example of a creative strategy that meets people where they live and creates the relational support that is a desperate need, through smaller communities of faith. He has planted one faith community at Gallaudet University, while a second is on the way in Washington DC.
What separates a good coach from a great coach? Good coaches help people reflect; great coaches have the ability to tap the creativity of a leader through listening and powerful questions.
Here are five questions to help you tap a leaders creativity:
- If you knew you could not fail, what would your church look like?
- What makes your church unique?
- How would your church make the community a better place?
- What sets your church apart from other churches?
- What excites you about your church?
The above story is used with permission – see The Table Church for more information.
I began coaching in 1988.
Since then, I have logged well over 10,000 hours: coaching leaders at virtually every level of church life: pastors, church planters, network/denominational leaders, missionaries & ministry leaders. I’ve worked with leaders locally, nationally & internationally on 5 continents. That is around 330 hours annually – for 30 years.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach leaders to start all kinds of churches & pioneer disciple-making 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 – releasing control into God’s hands!
Recently, while on vacation with my family & working our way down the coast of California, I reflected on the last three decades. My wife, Gina, says that when she read the book entitled “The ONE Thing – Sometimes it’s the only thing you do. But it’s always the ONE Thing that delivers extraordinary results” by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan; that it reminded her of me. That may or may not be true; but I do believe that my primary focus of coaching missional leaders & training coaches to empower missional leaders for the last 30 years, provides a unique opportunity to glean insights, that are worth sharing.
For this reason I would like to share lessons that I’ve learned from coaching the most amazingly gifted, truly faithful & hard-working leaders serving in the Lord’s Church today.
Lesson #1 – Discern the will of the Father
This could be taken as an arrogant statement OR simply what we as followers of Jesus are called to do on a moment-by-moment basis: Abide in Christ (John 15:4).
Recently I was training leaders in the coaching process in Malaga, Spain. We met in a Technology Park where 730 businesses office – from Google, Oracle & Micro-Soft to the one-man, sole proprietor. I was asked to meet the park’s Executive Coach and share our experience in coaching leaders.
As we explained our different approaches to coaching I highlighted the distinctive advantage as a follower of Jesus, in coaching leaders. Simply put, as I understand the literature of secular coaching, the coach relies on intuition when discerning the next step in the conversation vs. Christian coaches, who rely on the direction of the Spirit of God. The still, small voice that sometimes echos in our spirit. I’m not sure how that translated cross-culturally; but my friend acknowledged that this would be an amazing advantage, if this truly was the case. This has opened a conversation to explore what it means, to be a follower of Jesus, who happens to coach leaders.
Discerning the will of the Father suggests that we submit our will to His, listen and obey. This is the central teaching of Jesus. The more we do this ourselves, the better we are able to help others. Coaching missional leaders is a spiritual discernment process embedded in the best practices of making disciples.
How does a leader Abide in Christ? For every person that has an answer to this question, you will find as many answers. Here is how I Abide in Christ.
- Exercise. As I swim, run, bike or hike – I listen to that still small voice and in many instances, discern a key insight for my day ahead.
- Reflect. I think about the upcoming conversation I will have with a leader and ask for the Lord’s wisdom to prevail.
- Submit. I take the posture of a servant who does the will of the Master.
Those might seem superficial or simplistic, but over the last 30 years these habits have served me well. Of course there are seasons when I have been diligent with the spiritual disciplines of silence, Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, service, etc. But these three are the most consistent, by far.
Hard to believe that 30 years have passed. Right now is an important time to reflect as one chapter closes and another opens. How are you capturing the lessons the Lord is teaching you from your experience?
Next week I will share other lessons 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 disciple-making movements & planting churches around the world.
How many times have you launched into a conversation that did not have a clearly defined outcome in mind? I’ve found that 80% of the success of a coaching appointment is determined in the first 5 minutes. It is during that phase when the coach helps a leader define what they want to achieve.
Here are three questions you can use to help leaders focus:
- What do you want to focus on today?
- What would you like to leave with from today?
- What would a “win” look like for you today?
It’s not often that I endorse a coaching event, but the World Business & Executive Coach Summit (WBECS) is unique! You get to learn from over 50 of the most brilliant minds and successful coaches in one place. For those of us in ministry and see coaching as a tool to develop leaders, it is like going to the Global Leadership Summit (WIllow Creek Association) to hear from experts in related fields – but on the topic of coaching.
Each year they bring together world-class experts and sought-after coaches who you’d usually have to pay thousands of dollars for to hear them speak at conferences and events.
At WBECS during the Pre-Summit, you get to learn from them (live!) at absolutely no cost.
Whether you coach church planters, pastors, network leaders or missionaries – you will benefit from the content you glean from the experts in diverse fields. I am committed to develop my knowledge base on coaching, as well as developing you and your knowledge base. It is really fun to draw upon new insights from let’s say, the neuro-science of coaching; then apply it to coaching church multiplication leaders.
You can register for as many online classes as you like and they even upgraded the event this year with focused Round Tables, Implementation Mastery Sessions and more exciting opportunities to learn and engage.
Click here to learn more and secure your spot before the most popular sessions are full!
To continue on the theme of disciplemaking movements this year, I propose a guiding question for you and those you coach:
How can you engage a person to take a step forward, who is searching for something more in life?
Reflect on that for a moment.
- Who do you know in that space?
- How would you answer this question for yourself?
- Who are you coaching that needs to ask this question, of the people they are developing?
I look forward to reading your response below.