How many times have you found yourself overwhelmed by your growing stack of tasks and responsibilities? Once a month? Once a week? Daily? Most of us tend to overreach, taking on more work than we have capacity for and stretching our capabilities too thin.
In coaching, it is so important to understand the time and energy this job requires and to know your own personal thresholds. Some of us can coach a handful of people and still balance the rest of our lives. Some of us need to focus on just one or two clients. Some of us have other jobs and responsibilities that need to come first. When coaches lack that ability to assess their bandwidth, they end up burning out and becoming ineffective. Today we want to ask you the following questions: Have you assessed your personal and professional bandwidth lately? Are you in place to take on more?
As we have been looking at self-assessment in this most recent blog series, it would be impossible not to include one of the behavioral expressions: prioritize coaching. This requires a deeper look into how we make adjustments to our commitments in order to prioritize coaching relationships.
When I first began my coaching ministry, I was on staff with a missions agency AND working part-time at an inner city church. As time passed, I became less enamored with the complexities of local church ministry, and gravitated more and more to the coaching I was doing with pastors and church planters. Both were good. Eventually, however, I found myself having to make a hard choice between the two. After seven years as a co-vocational missionary/coach, I moved off church staff and moved into coaching full time.
That was in 1985. A lot has occurred in the Christian coaching world since then, but as you can see after nearly thirty years, I’ve made adjustments to prioritize coaching in my ministry.
This is still a growing edge for me. I imagine this might be a growing edge for you as well. Let’s assume you are the lead pastor of your congregation. The clearer you are in what you want to achieve, the easier it is to know who to coach, who not to coach, and what adjustments need to be made.
I look to the gifts of various individuals in Ephesian 4:11-12 as a backdrop:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
This equipping role includes coaching as an important–if not primary–tool that leaders have at their disposal. So, when I mention coaching in ministry, I am talking about equipping leaders to be their best selves. This makes choosing the people you coach a very important decision.
Whom should I coach?
One important step in qualifying potential coaching clients is to create a proposal. I ask three simple questions to clarify what the leader is looking for from me in a coaching relationship, then I write this up in a document (coach agreement) so that we can review it together.
Three Clarifying Questions to ask Prospective clients
- What do you want to accomplish?
- How will you know when you have achieved your objective?
- What do you want the impact to be for you and your ministry?
The answers will inform you whether this is a good fit, but that is simply the first step. The next set of questions will help you determine if you want to coach them.
Ask yourself these questions about each potential coaching client:
- To what degree am I excited about the client’s chosen goal?
- What level of personal affinity exists between me and the client?
- What qualities about this client may be challenging for me to work with?
- To what degree do I feel I will be helpful to this client?
Now you have enough information to inform your decision. But there is still one more important question to ask yourself: do you have the time and energy to take this on? When you skip this step, you will most likely say “yes” to things you should say “not yet” or “no” to. This is the point where the behavioral outcome Prioritize Coaching needs to take a front seat. The heavy lifting is qualifying whom you should coach. Once that question is answered then you must make the necessary adjustments.
The principle I have learned to honor and follow is: don’t add a coaching relationship unless you remove something! Adding commitments to an already full load is a recipe for burning out and becoming ineffective. However, when you make room for new commitments, coaching relationships are:
- A way to steward your gifts
- A blessing from God
If you are interested in a full explanation of how our team (namely Dr. Bob Logan & Dr. Chuck Ridley) arrived at the competencies of a Christian Coach – CLICK HERE. And check out our new resource for Christian Coaching – ChristianCoachingTools.com!
Identify areas that need your focused attention as a Disciple Coach