This month, we have been discussing how abiding in Christ is the most important of all Christian coaching competencies. What we uncovered in our original research, documented in Christian Coaching Excellence, is that abiding in Christ is the one competency that separates good Christian coaches from great Christian coaches. As we abide in Christ, we help our clients abide in Him, partnering with the Holy Spirit for greater significance in our coaching relationships, life, and ministry effectiveness.
This week I will unpack the fourth of five behavioral expressions that comprise Abiding in Christ:
- Prayerful preparation: Preparing carefully and prayerfully prior to engaging in a coaching relationship or appointment.
Many leaders excel in the technical skills of coaching, but not all coaches spend time prayerfully preparing for their coaching sessions. If we rely primarily on our technique and expertise instead of asking the Lord for His intervention, we will not ultimately be effective coaches. We need God’s involvement. As coaches, abiding in Christ means seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit at each stage of the coaching process, recognizing our dependence on him as we discern the needs of those we are coaching.
Last week we discussed the competency of intercessory prayer–praying specifically on behalf of those we coach. We also need to pray in anticipation of specific coaching sessions. Spiritual preparation prior to coaching allows us to get into the right frame of mind, listening to what God may be telling us about an upcoming conversation. At times, that process may help us understand how to best handle the coaching session. Is it a time for quiet listening and waiting? Or is it a time for careful challenge? Spiritual preparation gives coaches the solid foundation we need to trust the process and trust that God will do his work in those we are coaching—and in us.
Oftentimes when we prepare quietly in preparation for a coaching conversation, the Holy Spirit will nudge us in a specific direction we need to consider with a client. One coach I worked with had a mentor who had developed the ability to sense where the Holy Spirit was guiding his clients. He was very intuitive during the coaching session and had done the heavy lifting prior to his appointments in preparation for the conversations he would be having with clients.
He did this by taking a 15-minute block of time just before coaching appointments to reflect on the previous conversation with that specific client. As he prayerfully reviewed the notes he had taken, the Holy Spirit would speak gently about issues the client was facing and the type of questions he should consider asking. His Spirit-led insights inevitably helped his clients reflect and consider options moving forward.
On one occasion, he was coaching a client who was discerning his call in ministry. The Lord impressed on him the unique pastoral gifts his client had. Not in the traditional sense, though–this was someone who had a desire to pastor a group that was committed to reaching their community. As the coach listened and prayerfully engaged in the conversation, he perceived there was a potential opportunity the client was not seeing. The coach asked some guided questions that helped the client see an opportunity that would allow him to apply his pastoral gifts with a group of people that needed and wanted a leader like him. This set in motion a conversation with this group who had a vision to be missionally engaged in their community but lacked leadership. Once he began to connect the dots, the client was energized about taking the next step on his journey.
Here are some suggestions and exercises for growing in the area of prayerful preparation:
- Practice exercises
- Take fifteen minutes to practice listening prayer on your own.
- Find a quiet place (or somewhere you can focus well) and posture yourself in an attitude of listening for God.
- Invite the Holy Spirit’s presence.
- Ask for God’s eyes and ears to see and hear your clients as he does.
- Engage in prayerful reflection and listening regarding your coaching relationships.
- Wait and listen.
- Integrate prayer for your coaching client during exercise, walks, or hobbies. You can even integrate it into time spent commuting.
- Next time you engage in one of these activities, take a portion of that time to review your coaching appointments that week and pray for each one individually.
- Find a coach mentor
- Is it time to look outside yourself for help? You will accelerate your growth in this practice when you find a coach mentor that excels in this area and ask them to mentor you for a season. We challenge you to raise your level of engagement in prayerful preparation for your coaching ministry.
Coaching Tip: Set a weekly appointment to pray for your coaching clients and ask God for discernment.
- Has it been a while since you participated in coach training?
- Is it time for you to consider taking an assessment to evaluate your coaching?
- Are you interested in taking the next step in your development and working with a mentor?
At Christian Coaching Tools (a platform I co-founded) we launched the Coach Excellence GrowthTrack this year. Our first cohort is underway! This is what one participant had to say about the experience of working with a coach mentor alongside their 360° Online Christian Coach Assessment:
“When used with the 360° Christian Coach Assessment, a coach mentor can maximize your development as a coach and your impact for the kingdom of God. Training alongside mentoring results in excellent coaches.” – Dennis P
The next round will begin in the Spring. To learn more about this unique training opportunity CLICK HERE.