First posted at Christian Coaching Tools on July 20, 2023
The ultimate goal of coaching is to help clients change their lives for the better and grow their ministries. We want to help them discover a path that will take them closer and closer to their goals, personal growth and transformational learning. This process begins with a conversation, and it ends with action being taken. Christian Coaching Essentials (the book I co-wrote with Bob Logan) says, “Through increasingly focused questions, the coaching process moves a person from simply talking about life or ministry issues to actually doing something (Essentials p. 34).”
From rehearsing the story to reflection
This first step begins with the client sharing a story about their life; something that happens all the time. As a coach, you asked questions pushing them and spurring them to think deeper about this story and why they did what they did, or felt what they felt. By the end of the conversation, they will have gained new insight into themselves through this reflection.
For example: you are working with a young man who has enjoyed fruitful years of ministry.. However, over the course of several conversations, he begins to realize that he can be a more effective disciple of Christ in a role where he has the freedom to connect with people far from God as they go about their work and lives.
Questions for rehearsing to reflection:
- What did this conversation reveal to you?
- How has your curiosity been sparked?
- What are you sensing the Holy Spirit wants you to explore further?
From reflection to action
Reflection is so helpful, but not worth much if it is not used to make positive changes! The next step is to take the information the client has gathered about themselves from the reflection, and take action.
For example: the young man decides to leave his position in a vocational ministry role and begin his own house-painting business. He employed young adults; this gave him opportunities to connect with them he wouldn’t have in a local church setting.
Questions for reflection to action:
- What would you like your impact to be?
- How can you create an environment where that is possible? – What is your next step?
From Action to Transformational Learning
The final step is coming together again to discuss the results of the action. Once more, this step revolves around conversation and you asking probing and thoughtful questions. The goal is to use the results to help your client understand their growth and see the transformation that has taken place.
For example: The young man’s business begins to take off. He is able to hire more employees in the area. He is even able to donate money back to his old ministry, as well as leading some of the young adults to take interest in the ministry’s work.
Questions for Action to Transformational Learning:
- How has this experience challenged your thinking?
- What do you need to change moving forward?
- What insights do you have about your leadership?
4 Benefits to the Client
Guiding people through the reflection sequence allows them to come to their own conclusions. A-ha moments are far more powerful than simply telling a person what they need to do
2. Slow down to go fast
Life in real time rarely leaves space for deeper reflection and learning. The result is repeating the same mistakes. Helping your client to see the story frame by frame leads to greater awareness and effectiveness in future projects.
3. Prescriptive vs. Descriptive
Steps and pathways to growth are great—unless they don’t have an onramp where your client needs one or they are forcing the client to go in unnecessary directions. Prescriptive formulas don’t always fit the context. Instead, taking on a strategic role in a creative process allows your client to describe and process their own experiences, which leads to powerful insights.
4. Surfaces values
Processing conversations gives clients the opportunity to allow values to percolate to the surface. When a client has clearly defined values, they are able to make decisions with greater confidence.
It is so clear how this young man used each step of the sequence to great effect. He was given permission to reflect. To advance his thinking from reflection into action. And then from action into a plan for transformational learning that will change the trajectory of his own life and of those around him. This is a process that will push clients to think deeper, ask more questions, develop a strong vision and take action. Ultimately, this process produces results!