Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The pastor as coach

Some people see a pastor as a person who is able to fix their problems. I've had couples want me to fix their marriages. Parents have wanted me to fix their children's problem. Others have asked me to help solve their financial problems. In a few instances people have asked me to make a decision for them they didn't want to make. As much as I enjoy helping people, I really can't solve problems for other people. I might be able to solve a short-term issue, but if I do so they are apt to return later with another problem they want me to solve for them. How can we in ministry best help people address their problems? Here's an excerpt from my book The Art and Practice of Bivocational Ministry: A Pastor's Guide.

"Mentors, counselors, and consultants come in to solve problems. Coaches attempt to help the persons they are coaching to develop their problem-solving skills. As Tony Stoltzfus explains, 'We can build people or we can solve their problems. Transformational coaching is about building people. This approach is a far more powerful method of producing leaders, and yields long-term results.' Elsewhere he explains why this is so important.

'I'm much more interested in helping people become great decision-makers than in helping them make a right decision. If they make a good choice, I've influenced that one situation. But if I help them grow in their ability to make great choices, I've affected every decision they make for the rest of their life.'" Stoltzfus' comments come from his book Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach.

This is why I enjoy coaching people. A coach does more than solve people's problems. A coach helps people solve their own problems which means the coach doesn't have to be an expert on any particular problem. By asking questions a coach can often help the person being coached discover the answer to their issues. I found out how powerful that was when I was coached by a trained coach, and, as I've coached others, I've seen in work in powerful ways in their lives.

In today's culture coaching is a necessary tool for a pastor to have in his or her tool belt. Rather than answering people's questions we need to be the ones asking the questions. Doing so forces people to examine their own values and beliefs and challenges them to think more deeply about their problems. Quite often, as they think deeply they suddenly find the answer that will solve the problem. Since people are more apt to implement their own ideas than those suggested by others, they will usually follow through with that implementation.

However, a good coach will hold the person being coached accountable to do what they said they were going to do. This is usually not a problem because they are going to do what they themselves identified as the solution to their problem.

I enjoy serving as a ministry and/or life coach because I enjoy helping people. Because I see this as an important aspect of my ministry, my fees are much lower than those typically charged by life coaches.

If you believe having a coach to help you address challenges you are facing in your life or ministry would be helpful, contact me and together we'll see if a coach would be beneficial.

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