We are soon going to be ringing in the new year. Typically, this time is filled with sharing goals, hopes, dreams, and wishes. This week, let’s take time to reflect on all God has done in and through us this past year. What a blessing it is to be His children and his vessels to those around us!
“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.”
Psalm 98:1 (NIV)
As we enter into 2023, we pray that you are reminded of all God has done this last year and is still yet to do in this new year! Let’s welcome 2023 by putting Christ in the center of our celebration.
To all of you, we wish a very Happy New Year!
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We at InFocus hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” // Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)
“I bring you good news.” Good news, indeed.
Jesus Christ, born unto us, to be our greatest joy! This is the true joy of Christmas, that none should be lost but all should hear the good news of Jesus Christ. As we continue through this Christmas season and enter into the new year, may this verse serve as a reminder of the good news we have and the good news we are all called to share.
We are so thankful for you, and we pray over you and your families this Christmas. May you experience the true joy and peace that comes from the good news of Jesus!
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If the last few years have taught you anything, it’s that adaptation is necessary and good. Finding the best ways to support people and teams in their personal and ministry development is an ongoing, life-long process.
What worked last year might not work this year. And things that you have used in the past can improve through practice and repetition. Simple things like reading books, taking an assessment or participating in a cohort are great ways to improve.
Even as a Master Coach, my goal is to get better and better. Here are 10 things I’ve gleaned from my experience that have helped me improve my coaching.
10 Things I learned this year that have helped me get better as a coach:
1. Mirror Investment
Don’t desire something for someone more than they desire it for themselves. This is a lesson that will be learned over and over again. It’s easy to get in the way of ourselves and put our expertise ahead of our clients’ needs. It goes back to the principle that your client must want whatever “it” is bad enough that they are willing to take responsibility for it.
2. The Holy Spirit wants in
The power of “holding space” for the Holy Spirit to speak, nudge, and inspire can’t be underestimated. When appropriate, I integrate the practice of “holding space” into my coaching appointments. When I introduce the concept to clients, I communicate the exercise with a statement like, “This is a practice I’m learning in a cohort on spiritual formation and direction; would you join me in this?” It has been met with a positive, open response and the result has been refreshing and impactful.
3. Trigger warning
It is so important to be aware of your triggers. I was really caught off guard this year when I was discussing the launch timeline for a new work with a church planter. He mentioned two things that “triggered” an emotional response from me. The two issues had to do with disciple-making communities, and they were hitting against a core value of mine that triggered an emotional response. I can’t remember having such a strong response in my 35+ years of coaching. It certainly did not come off the way I would normally respond; I reacted way too passionately. It reminded me of the importance of knowing my values, what triggers me, and the importance of responding appropriately.
4. Quality tech
A shift has occurred in video conferencing. An attractive background, ring light, quality camera, and a higher grade microphone are becoming the norm. The investment in a couple of key components will improve the quality of your video calls, moving them from good to great! The small investment you make in each of these is worth the cost. Here are four ideas to consider:
5. Make the ask
There is a lot that goes into the work of creating a coaching ministry or practice. You can have a really great product. You can be a very skilled coach. You can be fully trained and credentialed. In fact, you can have an amazing marketing funnel (checkout my favorite CRM – Less Annoying). But if you can’t make the ask, you will never be able to build a coaching ministry or practice.
6. Stay ready to grow
Every single coach has room to grow. It’s important to maintain a habit of sharpening your coaching skills. Be creative and use opportunities that feel most natural and conducive to practice your coaching skills. It may be while leading a small group or ministry team, or dealing with family members in important conversations. Or how about when you are getting to know someone for the first time – make it about them and not about you!
7. Be generous
It feels amazing to receive–pay it forward and give back! When you know people that could benefit from an introduction to someone that can help, make the introduction. If you have resources, share them. If you are able to give of your resources–time, money or materials–give generously. One way I am doing this is serving in a ministry that is training “coaches” to empower people experiencing homelessness to get off the street and move into self-sufficiency. It’s very difficult and hard work, but it’s a place where coaching allows me to pay it forward.
8. Develop your network
I’ve been working with learning communities for a couple of decades but the last year has reminded me of the joy I have in creating peer learning environments in cohorts. Whether it is developing disciples, leaders, or coaches, the principles of a great learning community are the same: trust, vulnerability, high-quality content and accountability, among other things. The mutual learning and community are huge benefits of these learning environments and set them apart from other ways of training leaders.
9. Connect to the “Why”
Intrinsic motivation fuels action. My wife Gina is a health coach. She literally asks her clients the “Why?” question seven times before she is confident that the client gets to the root and declares their real reason to get healthy. That is about 6 times more than I normally ask! But when I’ve gone through the slow and sometimes tedious process of going deeper, the real reason people want to change usually finds its way to the surface.
10. Take care of yourself
I mean that in every dimension of your life, especially emotionally and spiritually. It is no wonder we are confronted with a worldwide mental health crisis. I’m not certain we can truly understand the wide range and long-term aspects of the pandemic on the emotional and spiritual well being of the world’s population. But from personal experience–it was hard! I’ve adopted a more rigorous habit of doing three things first thing in the morning: reading through the Bible (using the Bible in One Year Express app with Nicky Gumble from Alpha), a gratitude list, and contemplative prayer. For the latter two, I set a 10-minute timer because it helps me stay focused. These three things have helped me steady the ship when the seas of life are turbulent.
What are some things you’ve learned this year to improve your coaching?
Remember to consider the next Coach Excellence Cohort in January 2023.
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The holiday season is upon us, and family gatherings are about to begin! The anticipation of family gatherings may provoke mixed emotions; you may be excited to see loved ones, reminded of the loved ones that have passed that will be absent this year, or dreading unavoidably difficult conversations. Discussions about contentious political topics often sour a previously joyful gathering. One of your family members may interrupt the conversation by baiting others to provide their opinion on who they voted for in the midterm election or a recent government ruling. Unfortunately, these conversations can quickly evolve into debates where each person tries to convince others that their political opinions are superior and worthy of wholeheartedly embracing. Tragically, political discord can negatively impact our relationships.
Porch Talks is an organization that seeks to shift political conversations with loved ones from becoming a harmful debate to eliciting empathy and understanding. Central to Porch Talks is the dialogue toolkit that guides participants as they embark on the journey to mend relationships that have been damaged by divisive politics. Through independent reflection and dialogue, the toolkit helps participants explore how their personal experiences have shaped their views.
The current political climate has forced Americans to align their views with those that resemble the Republican or Democratic party based on divisive social opinions on race, sexual orientation and gender identity issues, to name a few. However, Porch Talks believes that there is great value in allowing people to add nuance to their political views. When nuance is allowed, similarity and connection can be realized.
What the toolkit is not:
The toolkit is not a resource to help you convince others that your perspective is correct or to solve a familial conflict. Instead, when trusted, the toolkit will ensure that each individual feels heard.
Application during the holidays:
Although it may not be possible or practical to dedicate a couple of hours to the toolkit during your holiday gatherings, strategies embedded throughout the toolkit will prove helpful to:
- Encourage your family members to tell a story about how their personal experiences and upbringing have shaped their beliefs. Potential questions that can encourage your loved ones to tell their story include:
- When you were growing up, how did this particular issue impact you?
- What was your first experience with this topic?
- How did your family talk about this issue when you were a child?
- Ask your loved one about how their opinion on the particular topic has benefited or hurt them.
- What is a specific instance in which you have benefited or been hurt by the opinion you hold?
- What benefit has your perspective brought you?
- Acknowledge their opinion and ask them to tell you more. To genuinely acknowledge the opinion of your family members, you must be actively listening and asking open-ended questions motivated by a desire to understand their story. You can practice active listening by:
- Reflecting and summarizing what you heard them say by using their own words. This can be done by saying “what I hear you saying is…”
- Respectfully communicate with your body language.
As a church leader, the toolkit can help in a variety of ways (for instance, in a difficult conversation with staff or congregational members). Imagine navigating a conversation where you and your elder have divergent views of the role of women in ministry. Laying a good foundation, embracing the non-negotiables of your relationship and then applying good listening skills with the goal of understanding before being understood make for a more productive dialogue. What difference would this make in this conversation? What difference will this make in the relationships with your team? What difference could this make within your congregation and the community it serves to become known as a community of peace?
My hope is that this holiday season allows you to hear the stories of your family members, learn something new, and begin mending broken relationships through understanding and respect.
Thanks to Zoe Reinecke and her contribution to this blog. To read more about Zoe and the Porch Talks team – CLICK HERE.