The first is that you need a goals program. This season from mid-November through December is when I typically identify the goals I want to pursue in the coming year. I began doing this several years ago, and it has had a very positive impact on my life. I began using a program offered by Zig Ziglar that is probably still available through his organization. I continue to use a modified version of that same program.
I begin by identifying some goals for the different areas of my life that I want to pursue in the coming year. These areas will include my family life, my ministry, my career (if you are bivocational that will often be different than your ministry), my relationship with God, and my own self-care. Writing these goals on paper turn them from being a dream to an actual goal. This helps me be very intentional about pursuing these things and keeps me from merely drifting from one activity to another. Once I've listed my goals (no more than one or two in each area) I then write down what I will gain from reaching the goal, I list the things I can identify that will hinder my reaching the goal, I identify the people and groups that can help me achieve the goal, I list some new skills or knowledge I might need, and then I begin recording the action steps I will take that will lead me to achieve the goal. These action steps become mini-goals that reduce the big goal down into bite-size chunks. I do not believe anyone can reach their fullest potential without setting challenging goals each year that will help them grow.
The second thing that is often helpful is to have a coach who believes in you and your goals. The coach helps us stay focused and holds us accountable. Many people will make a New Year's resolution to lose weight and will join a gym and begin an exercise program and diet. All of this will last about three weeks. One of the biggest reasons they will fail in their effort is that there is no one to hold them accountable. The ones who succeed will often have invested in a trainer to work with them, show them the right exercises that will be most beneficial to them, and will often help them with their diet.
The business world has known for several years that a coach can help a person or organization get unstuck. A good coach can help the one they are coaching to elevate their sights and begin to see past where they are to what they can become. Many major corporations provide outside coaches to their top executives because they know that they get a good return on their investment.
Some in the church world are now seeing the same value in coaching. At a time when 80 percent of our churches are plateaued or declining and ministry frustrations are driving many out of the ministry, some are turning to coaches to help their churches move forward and to regain control of their personal lives. They are finding that this investment in themselves makes sense and provides a great return on both their time and money. But coaching is not just for when things are not going well. Some of the best returns is when things are going well, but the leaders want to take their church and themselves to an even higher level of ministry effectiveness.
For the past few years I have coached a number of ministers, both bivocational and fully-funded. Due to my judicatory responsibilities I can only work with a few people at a time, but as we approach a new year I do have a few slots open. My doctoral thesis was on "Coaching Bivocational Ministers for Greater Success." I have found that coaching is an excellent tool to assist bivocational and fully-funded ministers move forward with their lives and ministries. If you wonder if coaching could benefit you, please contact me so we can discuss it.
My latest book is a look at my doctoral project and the information that came out of it. Included in the book are ten case studies of ministers I have coached and the results of those coaching relationships. You may want to pick up a copy of the book to learn more about how coaching can benefit you.