Coaching and faith are closely related. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Coaching is a faith discipline. I often compare it to healing. If I have the faith to pray for healing, I believe that I can lay my hands on a person and God will step in and do something incredible. Coaching and faith operate in a virtually identical way (with one interesting twist): if I have the faith to coach a person, I believe that I can take my hands off that individual’s life and God will step in and do something incredible.
When I pray for healing, I don’t have any confidence that I myself can heal the person: I believe God will step into the situation through my simple act of faith and do the impossible. Likewise, coaching and faith work the same: when I coach, I don’t have any confidence that I can “fix” anybody. But I believe that through my simple act of faith—choosing to see people as God sees them—that God will enter into the situation and do something beyond my abilities.
So, if our goal is to begin believing in people in a whole new way, how do we learn to do it? To integrate coaching and faith, you can’t just manufacture faith. It doesn’t work very well to say, “I’m now a coach, so starting today I’m going to believe unconditionally in all my clients all the time.” Beliefs don’t tend to change by force of will. Have you ever tried to grit your teeth and “believe” that you’d get well? It’s sort of like saying, “I won’t get angry!” or “I won’t have any more impure thoughts!” Sometimes the more you try to believe in something, the harder it is to do it!
Coaching training is learning and practicing the disciplines of believing in people. We aren’t just developing a new set of skills: we’re learning a disciplined way of treating others that focuses on their destiny and not their problems. We practice these skills over and over because they breed in us the heart of a coach. When we start to consistently act on our belief in people, we find out what they are really capable of, and our belief grows deeper and more profound each day. When that discipline has fully molded us, it becomes a powerful channel where the heart of a coach can reach out to touch and transform everyone we work with.
Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach and master coach trainer, and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on the role of questions in the coaching relationship can be found in Tony’s book, Leadership Coaching.