“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
The ICF further clarifies that coaches are trained to listen, to observe, and to customize their approach to individual client needs. “They [coaches] seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has(emphasis added).”
Coaching is about growth; it is not about healing.
Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client’s personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.
What is Christian Life Coaching?
Naturally, as distinctly Christian Life Coaches, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the discernment process. Whether our clients are Christians are not, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and that same Spirit knows the plans, the giftings, the callings that He has for each of our clients (cf Jer. 1:5; 29:11; Rom. 11:29 among others). As Christian life coaches, we partner with the Holy Spirit, joining in His work in our clients’ lives.
Coaches have no agenda, no personal investment in a client taking one path versus another. Instead, coaches will listen for and focus on the gap between where a client is now and where the client senses God is calling them to be.
What is the Difference Between Coaching and Counseling?
Counselors and therapists are, like consultants, hired for their expertise. They have specialized training in such things as healthy communication, good parenting, effective social skills, mental/emotional and spiritual health, and the like. They are skilled in uncovering underlying reasons for dysfunction and debilitating conditions such as depression, anxiety, and other mood and thoughts disorders.
Coaching is about stability and growth rather than dysfunction and healing. Whereas psychotherapy and counseling are primarily about the past and present, coaching is primarily about the future.
A person in need of healing is not yet ready for coaching and should be referred to a therapist. There are more basic issues to be addressed before they can effectively pursue greater fulfillment.
Why Christian Coaches are Like Detectives
Coaches are much more like detectives than mentors, disciplers, consultants, or counselors. Think about it. Detectives don’t show up with answers; they don’t teach, model, advice, or guide.
Detectives question. Detectives probe and dig, they search for clues, they form hypotheses, and they work hunches. And through this process of intentional inquiry and clarification, they draw out answers. Through questioning they determine whodunit and why and how.
The analogy of a detective forms the core of our definition of coaching, and it’s the reason that our foundational scripture is Proverbs 20:5 – “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
Life coaches cannot possibly be experts on their clients’ unique life paths, or giftings, or life callings. They don’t have the knowledge their clients are seeking, so they cannot impart it to them through teaching, modeling, advising, or guiding. They must draw it out from the clients themselves
Why People Hire a Coach
People hire a coach because they want growth. The work is not problem-focused, per se. There should be no particular dysfunctions or diagnostic issues that need healing – that is the work of therapy and counseling.
Coaching clients have specific goals/dreams/visions toward which they feel drawn, and they desire to discern these more clearly and then act upon them.
People hire coaches to start home businesses, prepare for retirement, switch to living on one income, or carve out more time for their families. Many clients are in transitions such as empty-nesting, or are moving on after the death of a spouse, or divorce.
Couples hire coaches to strengthen their relationship and enhance their parenting. Business and ministry leaders coach to strengthen their leadership abilities. Many work with coaches to improve time management and organization, or lose weight and improve health practices.
Whatever the life issues, all coaching clients hold a deep desire for richer, more fulfilling, more God-honoring growth in their lives.
How Christian Coaching Advances God’s Purposes
We believe that a new profession has emerged. It has settled on the name “Life Coaching,” and the gift it brings to the Church, if we will embrace it, is this inside-out process of drawing out the deep purposes of God in persons’ lives.
We hope this community of Christian Life Coaches will advance that work throughout the world for the greater glory of God.
If you would like to learn more about how coaching can further God’s purposes in your life, organization, or ministry, reach out here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Deborah Brown