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.



Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash


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