Coaching is many things to many people. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of people in the “coaching” world that are in fact not coaching. In this post I will seek to begin to unpack the reality of coaching.
1) Is coaching professional counseling? No. Coaching is not counseling. In coaching the focus is on the future and how to maximize your personal and professional potential. At times, some reflections may be made on the past but overall the thrust of Coaching is how does one achieve their current vision. Unlike counseling which often looks at the roots of issues and challenges, coaching is all about getting from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.
2) Is coaching pastoral counseling? No. In coaching I am in a role that is different from a pastoral counselor. As a pastor I am most often engaged in the ministry of presence. My role is not to make sense of things or to question reality. It is more or less to be a spiritual presence. In pastoral counseling I very rarely interrupt. During coaching I am freer to interrupt and ask a meaningful question. Also, in coaching I feel that sometimes the details of the situation can actually be a hindrance to growth and movement while during pastoral situations I will allow the person to say what they believe is necessary.
3) Is coaching consulting? No. While I have had success in ministry and life my role as a coach is not to provide answers from my experience. My experiences as a Pastor give me certain insights that may assist me in asking more meaningful questions when coaching religious leaders or people of faith. In my experience I have found some of the most powerful coaching I have done has been with clients I have little in vocational common.
4) What can coaching do for me? Coaching is intended to help the client to achieve their goals. At times even identifying ones goals is an important aspect of coaching. Coaching offers the client a personal champion to be in conversation with. The coaching relationship is focused on the client. Client and coach put all their energy into the client’s well-being and growth. Having someone in your life that is focused on you and helping you better yourself can be a powerful experience.
5) Isn’t coaching a selfish endeavor? No. While the focus of coaching is most often on the individual the fact of the matter is that when we make ourselves more whole we become a better citizen, employee, spouse, parent and friend. We also can have a positive influence on those around us.
6) What is the one principle of coaching that I appreciate the most? I find the under-riding principle of clients being naturally creative, resourceful and whole to be extremely meaningful. Far too often clients view themselves as broken and unable to do whatever it is that is challenging them. I believe that the creative nature of humans is tied with the very God of creation and when we empower ourselves to use the gifts God has given us we can do all things.
7) What makes me a good coach? I believe that there are a few natural traits that make me a helpful coach. First and foremost is the fact that I truly am curious in life. Curiosity makes the coaching relationship dynamic and engaging. I love learning about people and what they do both personally and professionally. Another important aspect of my personality that makes me a good coach is the fact that I am an active listener. I have developed the skill of listening to understand rather than to respond. I seek to listen to the content and context of what people say. I have gifts in reading body language and utilize them in the course of coaching. I am also able to dream and have imagination. As a coach I believe that it is important to ensure that you are able to look beyond the current reality and dream big dreams with clients.
8) Do you only coach Christians or Pastors? No. I am able to coach a wide range of clients. I am able to weave Christian faith into the coaching relationship if that is what the client and I agree upon when establishing our coaching agreement. I will readily admit that I view coaching as an extension of my pastoral ministry. Yet, I am able to work with individuals from varied faiths as well as secular institutions and businesses.
For further information on coaching please visit the International Coach Federation (ICF) website’s FAQs page: