1. A Coach Listens: When you pray, who is doing most of the talking? Is God constantly giving you advice and telling you what to do, or is he mostly listening? God is a great listener. Likewise, in coaching, the client should get 80% of the airtime, while the coach listens.
2. A Coach Asks: The Bible is filled with questions. From “Adam, where are you?” to “But who do you say that I am?” questions are used constantly to push us to reflect, take a stand and shoulder responsibility. You can learn a lot about coaching questions from Jesus, the master conversationalist. Read through the gospels and highlight all of Jesus’ questions—you’ll be surprised at what you find!
3. A Coach Sees: More than He/She Says Stop for a moment and evaluate yourself. How many things are wrong in your life right now? Could you be a better parent, a more loving spouse, make better use of your time? Of course! The gap between God’s holiness and your performance is infinite. Yet God has the patience to work with you on only one or two growth issues at a time. Likewise, a coach may see many areas for improvement in a client’s life, but chooses to ignore them and focus in on the client’s change agenda. If God can overlook my faults, I can do the same with my coaching relationships!
4. A Coach Gives Responsibility: God gives us responsibility to grow us up into maturity. We are Christ’s representatives on earth. Jesus even handed the church the keys to the Kingdom, and said, “Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven.” Responsibility is the tool God uses to grow leaders. In the same way, a coaching relationship keeps the client responsible to grow his or her leadership capacity.
5. A Coach Works through Internal Motivation: We all believe in destiny: that God created us for something. But destiny has powerful implications: it means that God’s best for our lives is implanted inside us. Our destiny is not something we ought to do; it’s something we yearn for, that is more fulfilling for us than anything. God is into buy-in—he specifically made us to want what he created us for. In the same way, coaches let clients set their own agenda for change. We major in internal motivation, because that’s how God works with us.
6. A Coach Respects Free Will: God works with whatever we give him—he doesn’t push his way into our lives against our will or force us to do anything (even though he could). God gave us free will, and he respects it. The line a coach doesn’t cross is to never do anything that takes away a client’s freedom of choice.
7. A Coach Honors Human Uniqueness: Have you ever wondered why the New Testament doesn’t prescribe exactly how and when to pray? While other religions specify the times and even provide all the words for you, God lets you choose. He allows flexibility in how you carry out his commands because you are a unique individual. Similarly, a coach doesn’t dispense one-size-fits-all solutions, because each person is different, and the coach’s solution may not work for you. Coaching relationships honor human uniqueness.
Tony Stoltzfus is a master coach, author and coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. More of his writings on the disciplines, skills and heart of a Christian coach can be found in his book, Leadership Coaching.