Post Resurrection Reflection

Post Resurrection Reflection

He is risen.  
He is risen indeed!

 

Imagine you were among those who saw the resurrected Christ. The awe and the wonder. The utter amazement that He had risen from the dead!

You will come across people this week who are reflecting on the events of Holy Week, culminating with Resurrection Sunday. Many of them have been to church. Some watched online. Others wonder what all the fuss is about. But what about you? Where do you find yourself following the most pivotal event of our Faith?

Let’s get personal. At my stage of life I have celebrated more than my fair share of Easters. Each year is different: in the past I’ve engaged in the season of Lent in a variety of ways (fasting, for instance, to slow down and reflect on the deeper aspects of life and faith). This year my attention has been more and more on the ways in which Christ is at work in my life.  Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar place.

Here are 3 self-reflection questions to pause, reflect, and capture the profoundness of it all before you move too quickly past Easter and onto the next thing.

  1. What were the highlights of your Holy Week?
  2. What is Christ doing in your life right now that has caught your attention?
  3. What do you need to rethink as it pertains to your spiritual formation?

My reflection: most of us are moving way too fast. We are taking less time to enjoy the important things and more time trying to keep up a pace that is unsustainable. We are running hard on the treadmill of life but not getting anywhere. The psalmist says it well:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 26:10)

I have been struck by how easy it is to lose sight of this perspective. As I was riding my mountain bike the other day, each time my mind would begin to wonder I would draw my attention back to this passage: “Be still, and know that I am God.”  I wish I could tell you I only needed to do this once, but it was probably more often than I was even aware. Our minds and attention are easily distracted.

What can you do to stay focused on the work of Christ in your life?

On a grander scale, do you need to slow down? Refocus your priorities? Change it up a bit?  This might be an ideal time to take stock in what you have been given.

Slow down.

Appreciate the little things that go unnoticed throughout your daily life.

And give thanks to the One who has made all things possible.

He has risen. He has risen indeed!

 

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Coaching Leaders in Formation of Disciple Making Communities

Coaching Leaders in Formation of Disciple Making Communities

Many churches find it difficult to change the culture of their small group ministry from merely assimilating new people to forming disciple making communities. While not all churches share this struggle, if you find yourself in this predicament you are certainly not alone. The relational cracks, lack of focus on making disciples, and intentional leadership development in the foundation of small groups ministries are exposed when they are repurposed to become more fruitful.

Lessons learned from churches when things did no go as planned: 

I know of several churches that have transitioned from traditional small group ministries to disciple making communities. The organizational life cycle of even the healthiest churches are prone to create small group systems that establish a life of their own. Over time, if small groups are not engaged in disciple making from the inception, refocusing those groups is extremely challenging.

Pitfalls to Avoid doing when Transitioning Small Groups to Disciple Making Communities:

Pitfall #1: Too much change in a short amount of time

Pitfall #2: Shortage of leaders who really embrace the vision

Pitfall #3: Lack of preparation

If you are considering making this shift in your small group ministry, here are three ways to avoid the pitfalls above:

Tip #1: Reflect on the implications

Think through the implications of transitioning to disciple-making communities. There are real seen and unseen implications that you might not be able to anticipate on your own. Recruit your most engaged people to help you navigate the right way to shift in the new direction you are asking your small group leaders to take.

Tip #2: Try a pilot and learn

Seasoned leaders tend to experiment with this more often than newer leaders. Notice that I did not say older vs. younger. Experience is the best teacher. The leaders who have seen the fruit of past attempts when they failed to observe the three pitfalls above have learned the wisdom of testing an idea before broadly implementing it.

Tip #3: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Communication with your key leaders and the congregation throughout the process will make the journey more attractive and more fruitful for everyone involved. The most important things to keep in mind are who you need to communicate with and what you need to communicate. The amount of change you are introducing will inform how much to communicate, how to communicate it, and how often it must be communicated.

Coaching leaders who are transitioning small groups to disciple making communities:

  1. Who can you ask to help you assess your current small group ministry?
  2. What is currently working in your small groups?
  3. What is working against your vision to make disciples through your small groups?
  4. What changes do you need to make?
  5. What is a realistic time frame to make those changes?

If you are looking for resources to help you to transition your small groups to disciple making communities, here are two resources that will help you look at what is involved in the Change Management process.

Change Management Skill Builder

Change Management Effectiveness Profile

 

 

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Coaching Leaders Into Retirement

Coaching Leaders Into Retirement

I’ve worked with a number of leaders over years that have been navigating their final years in vocational ministry. This is a unique phase of life: serving in the same role for a couple of years prior to retirement is one thing; serving in the same role for a decade or two (or three!) is a different thing altogether! There is a sense of finality that has not occurred during other life transitions. It can be an exciting time. For others, however, it can be a frightening season full of unknowns.

One leader I coached into retirement found peace during his final season of vocational ministry. I’d like to share how he did that and how you, whether you’re navigating your own transition to retirement or still have several decades, can prepare for a peaceful move into retirement as well.

Discovering Peace Leading into Retirement:

  • Understanding the Lord is intimately involved throughout this time
  • Experiencing the love and support of family and friends
  • Life-giving opportunities to serve post-retirement
  • Having a financial plan that allows to maintain your standard of living

The question leaders face in this season is, “What’s next?”

In retirement, some leaders envision unplugging altogether. Others want to continue their ministry in some capacity. Others, still, will pivot into an entirely new focus. The best path for you will likely be different from the path chosen by your peers and colleagues.

Coaching leaders into retirement can be a life-giving exercise, particularly for the leader who may not have another forum to process their thinking.

Coaching Leaders Into Retirement 

Imagine this scenario: you are a lead pastor or a denominational leader. You have been serving in your role for more than two decades! Now, you are contemplating life after your transition off of ministry staff. If you have planned carefully, you have created a financial pathway that will meet your needs for the near and long-term future. Relationally, you have established healthy relationships or have a community you will be involved with once the grind of your working life slows. You might feel called into a new season of ministry that allows you to put your ministry experience to good use, empowering the next generation of emerging leaders to continue the work of making disciples, developing leaders, and investing in new works.

There is also another, less predictable scenario. The financial pathway is not as clear.  You may not have many established healthy relationships and will need to invest the effort into developing a community that will benefit you during the next season. And, you may or may not have a desire to continue in a ministry context but still need to earn money to meet your financial obligations.

Whatever your situation, here is a list of questions leaders face when considering retirement. If these hit at the core of the issues you face or have seen others face–keep reading!

Challenges leaders face when considering retirement:

  • Identity – who am I apart from my ministry role?
      • The role in which you have served bleeds into your identity and you might need to establish who you are apart from what you do. A healthier narrative is rediscovering that you are valuable apart from what you do. Making that shift can be difficult; asking the right questions can help shift your perspective and help you rediscover your true identity.
  • Significance – what will I do to make a difference?
      • After you have transitioned out of vocational ministry, it can be a challenge to find ways to still make a difference in people’s lives. The answer to this might be engaging in things that you love but have put aside for a season and need to reactivate. Hobbies, volunteering, or recreational activities can serve as ways you can add value to people’s lives.
  • Convergence – how can I leverage my experience to bless others?
      • This is where many leaders I coach into retirement focus their energies. No longer are they serving out of obligation to a job but simply to bless others.  Imagine taking the lifetime of experience you have garnered and now using that experience in a very focused way, doing only those things you enjoy doing, like writing, preaching, or training leaders.

Finishing well!

This is a wonderful time for a coach to help ensure leaders finish well! Coming alongside a leader through the season leading up to retirement and post-retirement is an honor and privilege. It is a unique opportunity to help a leader reflect on his or her life and prepare for an unprecedented transition, capturing learnings while they are still fresh in the mind of the leader.

During this season, celebrate the “wins” that God has accomplished along the journey!

The theme of Bobby Clinton’s work on Leadership Emergence Theory in “The Making of a Leader” is that few leaders finish well!  It is evident when a leader is finishing well–that leader is more in love with Jesus now than when he or she began their journey of faith, has a lifetime of life and ministry fruit to show for it, and is still going strong even until the end of their life.

The road to retirement can be rich and full of future opportunities–the right coach can help navigate that journey and walk alongside leaders in any situation to finish their journey well!

 

 

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Is A Coach Right for You?

Is A Coach Right for You?

Earlier this year I was interviewed by Dr. Mike Patterson about coaching. We discussed what makes coaching unique in comparison to other ways of helping people – counseling, mentoring, consulting, etc. In the interview with Dr. Patterson, I shared a list of questions leaders will ask when considering hiring a coach:

  • Do I need a coach?
  • Where do I start my research?
  • What is the duration of a coaching relationship?
  • How will I know if I’ve found a good match?
  • How much will it cost?

Before going any further, however, an important question to consider is the value or benefit of a coach to your life. This will inform your responses to the other questions and help you clarify whether you really want to engage in a coaching relationship.

Here is an actual (and very common) scenario of a leader–“Jim–who sensed the need to pursue a coaching relationship.

Jim was new to his position as the head of an international missions network. Realizing how the complexity of his new role would require fresh ways of leading, he felt he could use the support of someone outside his immediate ministry context. When he shared the need with his board, they agreed that an executive leadership coach would benefit him during that season. Jim went to his friend, “Sam,” who was a pastor in a region where he had previously served. Sam had experience with a coach, “Frank,” he thought would be a good match for Jim. The connection was made and Jim and Frank had a conversation to explore the potential of a coaching relationship.

This began the process of discernment for Jim and Frank–would this be a worthy investment of time and resources for them? If you are in the process of discerning whether a coaching relationship will be a worthwhile investment, you might find the list below helpful for you to determine the answer.

From my experience, the three most compelling reasons for finding a coach are:

Empowerment

The heavy lifting in a coaching conversation involves listening and asking powerful questions. That’s the value of having a coach from outside your organization or church who does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the coaching relationship. Additionally, coaching relationships help facilitate self-discovery, and things that you discover on your own are the things for which you are more likely to take action. Leaders accelerate their growth when a coach facilitates that process of self-discovery (versus telling a client what he/she needs to do).

Jim is a sharp leader and regularly discovers his own solutions by verbally processing the situations he is confronted with in his role. The value Frank brings to Jim is the ability to process his thoughts out loud without judgment. Sounds simplistic, but the space this creates for Jim is unique and one that Jim values.  

Support 

Self-discovery is the first step in the change process. Having the support of a coach to carry out a new way of leading, relating to people, or taking a step in a new direction adds tremendous value to the life of the client. There are natural challenges you confront when attempting to establish a new way of doing something. Those challenges can be mitigated–or sometimes even eliminated–with the support of a coach.

Jim is a self-starter, but there are some things that remain neglected without the support of other people, tools, and systems that Frank helps him identify. The goal is not dependence on Frank, but for Jim to build an accountability structure that allows him to stay on track.

Focus

The greatest benefit to having a coach walk alongside you is helping you focus your attention on the important and urgent versus the important but non-urgent responsibilities that will move the mission of your life and ministry forward.

A coach can help you maintain your attention on those things that will have the biggest impact on you, your calling in life, and your ministry.

Now, after 5 years in a coaching relationship, Jim has accelerated his development, moved the organization he leads into a new paradigm, and is flourishing as a leader.  Jim is a coachable leader and Frank is an excellent coach. The combination of the two makes for a strategic relationship that helps Jim go further faster in his leadership.

The value of a coach has a high return on investment when the coach brings the three things identified above into the coaching relationship. Realistically, we all can benefit from having an objective third party journey alongside us during high growth opportunities, difficult seasons, and challenging goals. If you are in the market to explore a coaching relationship, InFocus has a free consultation available – CLICK HERE to find a time that works for you!

 

Excerpts taken from a podcast created by Mission First – People Always hosted by Dr. Mike Patterson. The entire recording can be accessed HERE

 

 

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Accelerate Development, Mine the Gold

Accelerate Development, Mine the Gold

How does coaching accelerate the development of a leader?

 

Being a coach, it’s easy to see how coaches have an undeniable positive impact on the development of leaders. But how?

 

Client: When a leader takes action to make progress on an initiative he or she is pioneering, it is a great chance for coaches to maximize a learning opportunity with clients. 

Example: A leader has noticed that he is doing most of the talking when leading his team and not doing as much listening. With his new awareness, he commits to listening more and talking less, asking questions to draw team members in versus dominating the discussion. This is a new way for him to interact, which may feel foreign at first. Over time, however, as the leader practices, he will grow in his ability to listen and ask questions. 

Once a leader has taken action it is important to pause and help them process what they can learn from their experience. This leads into the next phase of the learning process.

 

Mining the Gold

Now that the leader (your client) has tested out his or her new approach, the coach (you) helps the leader process and reflect on how it went. This helps the leader extract new learnings that are hidden below the surface. I call this “mining the gold.”

It is in this place that true learning can be maximized.

Coach: A coach helps a leader reflect on the way she listened and how it impacted her team. This is where her learning is maximized.  

From the scenario above, the leader’s insights might be: 

      • Better engagement by team members
      • More ownership from the team
      • Greater impact

Move the learning forward!

Once the client clarifies his or her new learning(s), the coach can help the leader take those fresh insights and build on it by moving his/her thoughts forward into new ways of thinking and behaving.

Coach: A coach asks, “How can you move that learning forward?”

Here are some examples of ways the leader could move the learning forward:

      • Before giving input, summarize what team members are saying
      • Ask team members if the summary is accurate and complete
      • To help team members continue their processing, ask, “…Is there more?”

This completes the cycle of accelerating the developmental process. When a coach does this on a regular basis, the pace of change increases. Without a coach this process gets bogged down or stalled unless the leader has already learned the importance of this reflection.

In summary, here is the whole process:

The process of identifying and applying new learnings: moving the learning forward

  1. Take action – the leader commits him/herself to a particular action
  2. Reflect on key insights – the coach helps the leader reflect on key insights
  3. Capture the insight – the coach helps the leader clarify these in behavioral terms
  4. Brainstorm ways to apply – the coach helps the leader identify new insight(s) into new ways of thinking or behaving
  5. Take action – the leader applies the action in a real situation to reinforce the learning

Here are three tips to help you move the learning forward with leaders you coach:

  1. Give leaders the time they need to process their learnings
  2. Don’t interfere by interjecting YOUR insights
  3. Let the client do the heavy lifting (become comfortable with silence)

Most leaders fail to give ample time to reflect due to the busyness of life and ministry.  They don’t believe they can afford the time that’s required to go through the exercise.  When left on their own, chances are they will give in to the “tyranny of the urgent.”

However, leaders can’t afford NOT to adopt this process, as it will eventually and certainly catch up with them (often when they least expect it!). So serve the leaders well that are under your care.

Resources

If you want an accurate picture of your competence as a coach, there is no substitute for the 360° Christian Coach Assessment. This online tool is the only assessment for Christian coaches that is backed by thorough qualitative research. It clearly and accurately identifies your coaching strengths and areas for improvement. Learn more HERE.

 

If you want to participate in a cohort and work on your coaching excellence with a mentor, consider the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrac.

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 cohort will begin in the Spring. To learn more about this unique training opportunity, CLICK HERE.

 

 

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5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

One of the realities of the last 12-24 months is the challenge of creating a healthy team culture during a pandemic season. I’ve had countless conversations with leaders who have reflected on the ways they have helped their teams navigate this season–some went to more frequent meetings with their teams (even daily) so that team members felt cared for and supported. Two years later, these teams are thriving.

A leader I was speaking to asked how he could more effectively empower his team. His vision is to create a supportive environment while maximizing the potential of each individual as well as the collective group. After wrestling with several potential approaches, he discovered some missing pieces in the culture he had established. Out of this conversation (and others I have navigated with leaders) emerged five ways to build a healthy team culture.

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

#1 Clear expectations

#2 Regular communication

#3 Compelling rewards

#4 Real consequences

#5 High Trust

Each of these are significant in themselves, but when implemented together there is a synergistic relationship.

Let’s unpack each one:

#1 Clear expectations

When your team is initially organized, discuss the expectations you have as the leader. Just as important, discuss the expectations members of the team have of you and of one another.  A simple list of “team norms” or operating principles can go a long way in removing ambiguity in the team you are leading.

Clarifying expectations on the front end will help you avoid the conflict and ambiguity that sometimes can erode trust over time. Here are questions to consider in determining team norms:

  • What are the most important ways we can demonstrate respect for each other?
  • What are the non-negotiable commitments we are making to each other?
  • How can we assess the health of our team?

#2 Regular communication

Frequency of communication is a common challenge teams face. Communication often translates into “meetings” which in some organizations suggests a waste of time. Consider also how communication needs to take place: in person, virtually, via e-mail or text, or “as needed”. These are all considerations that should be discussed before problems emerge. I have not come across a one-size fits all approach to communication, but here are some questions to consider in evaluating and implementing regular communication:

  • What issues do we need to stay current on in our team?
  • What is the minimum amount of time we can allow between communication (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly)?
  • What is the best forum for this type of communication (e.g. in person, virtual, e-mail or text)?

#3 Compelling rewards

Rewards can range from fun and simple to more significant. Discussing ways you can reward team members for their achievements can be a motivator for team members. One team leader I worked with rewarded team members by highlighting some outstanding behavior, achievement, or quality in front of their peers. A kind word or personal note goes a long way to affirm the contributions team members make.  Here are questions to ask to identify compelling rewards for your team:

  • What are some meaningful ways you have shown appreciation for your team members?
  • What do you want to reward in your team?
  • How will you reward qualities or achievements?

#4 Real consequences

This might sound like a parenting trait, but setting clear boundaries with felt consequences when a boundary has been ignored or broken is critical to building a high-trust team culture.  Just as important is following through on a consequence when a team member fails to observe the commitment they have made to their teammates. For example, if a person is habitually late and one of the “team norms” is punctuality, the leader needs to enforce a consequence for the impact the tardiness has on the team. The action you take (or fail to take) communicates your commitment to upholding your team norms. Use these reflection questions to help you and your team agree to real consequences:

  • What behaviors will your team not tolerate?
  • What will the consequences be?
  • Are you willing to enforce those?

#5 High trust

Each of the previous 4 aspects of building a healthy team culture relates to trust. The speed at which you can develop trust within a team will determine how fast you are able to move toward your goals. The higher the level of trust, the more you can accelerate your progress as a team toward the vision. Conversely, the lower the trust…well, you get the idea.  Here are a couple of reflection questions to help you reinforce trust with your team:

  • What is the most effective way you have built trust within your team?
  • What has eroded trust?
  • What can you do to increase trust within your team?

In the last 12-24 months, leaders have had to be more intentional in building healthy team cultures. Ignoring these five aspects of a healthy team–or failing to give attention to them–has exposed the cracks in many organizations and churches. The healthier the culture, the stronger the organization.

If you need help or are seeking a guide to help you work through the nuances of leading your team, InFocus is here to help.  To book a free consultation with Gary Reinecke, find a time that works with your schedule – CLICK HERE.

 

 

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3 Strategies for Spiritual Guidance

3 Strategies for Spiritual Guidance

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:

  • Spiritual guidance: Wisely applying spiritual resources (e.g., prayer, Scripture, spiritual disciplines) to guide the coaching relationship.

Last week we discussed the competency of prayerful preparation – prayer in anticipation of specific coaching sessions for those we coach. We also need to learn to wisely apply spiritual resources during coaching sessions. The common spiritual resources listed above (prayer, Scripture, spiritual disciplines) are not meant to be exhaustive; there are many others to be discovered and utilized in coaching sessions.

The application of spiritual resources allows coaches to be spiritually receptive to what God is doing in a coaching relationship. Sometimes this can mean bringing relevant passages of scripture into the conversation. Other times, it can mean recommending spiritual practices, books or conversations that might be helpful to your client. Relying on spiritual guidance forms a tacit recognition that you don’t expect your client to be able to do everything on their own. They shouldn’t expect that of themselves, either; part of the Christian coaching relationship is helping our clients discover ways to rely on God. 

Here are some suggestions and exercises for growing in the area of spiritual guidance:

Brainstorm possible spiritual resources. It’s best not to have just one or two options, but a whole array of possibilities. The list below is a beginning. What additional options can you think of?

  • A Scripture passage
  • A prayer retreat
  • A book
  • A conversation with someone about spiritual things
  • A spiritual director or mentor
  • A spiritual practice

Consider Barnabas. Looking at the life of Barnabas, what ways do you see him relying on spiritual resources as he supports others?

  • Acts 4:36
  • Acts 9
  • Acts 11:19–25
  • Acts 13:9–12
  • Acts 13:42
  • Acts 13:49–52
  • Acts 15:36–40
  • Acts 16:1–3

Become more aware of and fluent in the spiritual disciplines.

Coaching Tip: Following are seven ways to identify the positive impact of applying the above spiritual resources in your coaching sessions:

  1. Grace when the client is being too hard on themselves.
  2. Forgiveness when the client is in the wrong.
  3. Wisdom when the client lacks insight into a situation.
  4. Energy when the client lacks strength.
  5. Strength when the client wants to give up.
  6. Patience when the client feels overwhelmed.
  7. Confidence when the client is doubtful.

Coaching Excellence

  • Has it been a while since you participated in coach training?
  • Is it time for you to consider an assessment to evaluate your coaching?
  • Are you interested in taking the next step in your coaching 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.

 

 

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3 Strategies for Prayerful Preparation

3 Strategies for Prayerful Preparation

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.

 

Coaching Excellence

  • 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.

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

3 Strategies for Growing in Intercessory Prayer

3 Strategies for Growing in Intercessory Prayer

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 it’s 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 third of five behavioral expressions that comprise Abiding in Christ:

  • Intercessory prayer: Praying passionately for the person or team being coached.

Many leaders excel in the technical skills of coaching, but not all coaches excel in prayer and, specifically, intercessory prayer. 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.

Coaching is not only a time commitment and a professional commitment—it’s also a spiritual commitment made to those who are being coached. Coaches need to be intentional and explicit about praying for those they are coaching. Some keep a list of people they are coaching in a place where they will see it regularly. Others send out emails soliciting specific prayer requests from clients. Some pray as a regular part of opening or closing a session. The best methods will differ for different people, but the best coaches find ways to pray for those they coach. That connection often manifests itself through prayerful contact: writing notes of encouragement, offering networking opportunities, providing open doors to places of ministry, etc.

Here are three exercises for growing in the area of intercessory prayer:

1. Quote for meditation

“If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others….As priests, appointed and anointed by God, we have the honor of going before the Most High on behalf of others. This is not optional; it is a sacred obligation—and a precious privilege—of all who take up the yoke of Christ.” (Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 191)

2. Pray Scripture

When you are not sure what you should be praying for people, you can use Scripture passages as your prayer. Some good Scripture prayers include:

o   Colossians 1:9–13

o   Philippians 1:9–11

o   Ephesians 1:15–20 and 3:16–19

3. Practice exercise

Take a 30-day prayer challenge. If you are not currently praying for your clients during your coaching appointments, ask them how you can pray. Then pray with them during all of your appointments for the next 30 days. Afterward, assess the difference this practice makes in you and your clients.

Growing in the area of intercessory prayer is both a process and a practice; the more you intercede for your clients, the more attuned you will become to their needs. And the more attuned you become to the needs of your client, the better you can support your clients.

The post 3 Strategies for Growing in Intercessory Prayer appeared first on InFocus.

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

3 Strategies to Grow in Discernment

3 Strategies to Grow in Discernment

As we have seen, abiding in Christ is the most important of all the Christian coaching competencies. What we uncovered in our original research, documented in Christian Coaching Excellence, is that it’s 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 second of five behavioral expressions that comprise Abiding in Christ:

  • Discernment: Listen, process, and respond to the Holy Spirit as you make coaching decisions.

Many leaders excel in the technical skills of coaching, but not all coaches excel in discernment. If we are unable to listen to God’s voice and submit to his leading, we will not ultimately be effective coaches. We need God’s guidance to discern when and how to address an issue, or sometimes whether to address it at all. 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.

Many coaching decisions, both large and small, are made in-the-moment as issues and opportunities arise during a coaching session. The best coaches have their ears attuned to the Holy Spirit, following his lead as they coach.

Listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit involves giving up trying to steer things according to our own ideas or agendas. Opening with a question such as, “Where do you want to start today?” can help coaches place the agenda of the session in the hands of the person being coached. Continuing the session with questions such as, “What do you sense God is doing in this situation?” keeps the agenda there. When you approach coaching this way, you are less likely to miss what God is doing in a person’s life because you don’t assume you already know.

Have you ever had that sense that the Spirit is nudging you to say something but you realize it involves risk, discomfort, or may come off as presumptuous, so you’re hesitant to say it? This often happens when we least expect it. But if it truly is a message the Lord wants you to communicate, it will have the desired impact.

Recently, I was observing someone coaching a client–a church leader and businessman–in order to provide the coach with feedback. What I observed between the coach and client was a sweet synergy, partly because the two had a long history, but also because the coach was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and was able to encourage and support the client as he clarified his core values and mission for life.

The coach did something very important after the client shared his thinking behind each value: he simply affirmed the work of God in his life. The timing and manner in which the coach gave his affirmations was life-giving to the leader. As an observer of the situation, it was evident to me that these affirmations were more than just encouraging words; his words were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Here are three suggestions and exercises for growing in the area of discernment:

1. Practice exercise

  • Practice listening for the tugging of the Holy Spirit as you are coaching. When you get a hunch, sometimes you’ll want to ask the client about it.
  • Don’t phrase it as, “God told me to tell you this,” but more like, “This might sound off the wall, but….Anything going on there?” Another helpful question is, “I’m wondering….How does that resonate with you?” This type of question gives the client the opportunity to respond freely and honestly. After all, you might be wrong.
  • Challenge: Try following through on what you are hearing from the Holy Spirit. Speak what you discern and see what happens.

2. Spiritual direction

  • Consider finding a person with expertise in spiritual direction and ask them to guide you through the Ignatian Exercises to help you become more attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

3. Explore spiritual rhythms and the daily offices

  • Visit with a friend from the liturgical world. Ask them to share their journey that led them to engage in these practices, the challenges they face, and the fruit they experience.
  • Read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
  • Visit a monastery for a personal retreat. If possible, join the community for prayer throughout the day and night to experience the rhythms of life in a cloistered environment.

Growing in the area of discernment is both a process and a practice; the more you practice listening for the Spirit’s voice and responding to it, even if you’re off at times, the more attuned to His voice you will become. And the more attuned to the Spirit you are, the better off your clients will be.

 

The post 3 ways to Grow in Discernment appeared first on InFocus.

 

 

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash