Learning to coach

I can’t quite remember when I first came across coaching as a leadership concept but it has been one of those ideas that has slowly invaded my thinking. Last year I read a short taster book on coaching and I began to think some more. This year I followed it up by reading the full version with Keith Webb’s The COACH Model for Christian LeadersI had finally become fully convinced of the importance of coaching.

So last week I went on a coaching course. It wasn’t a Christian course nor one aimed at Christian leaders. Mainly because I wanted to meet people outside that world, which I was glad to do. The training involved some listening, some thinking and quite a lot of doing. The analogy to what church should be was not lost on me.

I’d read about the COACH model and now I was learning the GROW model, and to be perfectly honest they’re basically the same.

C – Connect
O – Outcomes
A – Awareness
C – Course
H – Highlights


G – Goals
R – Realities
O – Options
W – Will

Coaching is essentially a structured conversation that takes a person through various stages to help them discover their own solutions to personal development, problem solving or pretty much anything. The various stages, help define goals or outcomes, understand the challenges and the situation, consider the alternatives and ways forward, then choose one with a specific course of action that is time-bound and not open-ended.

The key to all this is asking good questions. I’ve always been good with questions with people I meet, I’m curious and interested and in a short time I can learn a lot about someone I’ve just met. However I’ve never really applied that skill (nor perhaps even thought of it as a skill) to leadership.

Actually that’s not true. I have used questions for diagnosis and understanding. I’ve just never used them for problem solving or self-discovery. I think my main style of leadership up until now has been akin to a doctors’ consultation. The doctor listens, examines and then dispenses the course of action. I’ve questioned, listened, examined and then told people what to do. It sort of works. Sometimes.

What coaching does is take the power of a good question and apply it to all stages of the process. It helps the individual or group to see and choose their course of action and not your course of action. This is fundamentally a more empowering process and pushes the initiative back onto the group or individual rather than the pastor/leader assuming yet another area of responsibility.

I’ve already begun to think differently and approach discipleship conversations with a different mindset. I’m not yet sure that I will pursue further training in terms of coaching but I have some more books to read and intend to practice it consistently from here on out.

If you want to listen about the value of coaching in a missional church, perhaps take the time to listen to this conversation between Brad Watson & David Achata.

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One Thought to “Learning to coach”

  1. I appreciate your openness about this area of life. We all go through the maturation and life process, becoming rich in ways we inherently want to impart upon our people.
    The best tools are God inspired. Listening to hear, rather than to react or respond is an immeasurable force. Better still is open discussion about our will, Gods will for mankind, and surrendering our need to control.
    Faith and trust are actively being developed in all of us. In my eyes, a person who openly shares these aspects of thier development with others is a keen mentor and leader. There’s the humility and integrity of real life first hand experience that fosters an inalienable platform for the travailing young and old alike.
    My advice, if I may offer it, to pay attention to what continues to come into your consciousness. If we wait upon the Lord, all will be revealed. There are coincidences. Tbe content of your thoughts arrive by divine placement. Sometimes we entertain that inspiration, then talk ourselves out of it, as if we began to doubt capacity or worthiness for such weighty engagement. I was always told, Spirit speaks first. If you ask for clarity, discernment, and the ability to slow down enough to hear his directions , your path will be made straight.
    There are mentors, big brother programs, celebrate recovery and God only knows what other avenue to traverse, in the way of returning the gratitude, time and care for your fellows.

    May Adonai lead you with strong hands.
    In Jesus name, Amen

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