A year or so ago I realized that my conversations with my wife were becoming uncomfortably one-sided. Two thirds of the time we were talking about me, and only a third of the time about her. Then it hit me: I was spending five or six hours on the phone talking exclusively about others, offering them something and expecting nothing in return, and I needed a little balance! It spurred me to invest in spending more time with friends to make sure my needs were better met. Do you know what a coach’s responsibility in conversations is?
This highlights one of the deepest personal challenges of being a coach: you are constantly giving the gift of relationship, giving the gift of listening and giving the gift of acceptance. You can’t maintain that degree of outflow unless you are a whole person and your own needs are met.
Ministry flows out of being: who you are is what you have to give. It’s tough to focus intently on giving to other people when you have an aching wound inside, begging for attention. It is difficult to be there for someone else when no one is there for you. If no one believes in you, how will you believe in anyone else? If you have few friends you can share authentically with, how will you know how to be a true friend to others? Jesus once stated that the key of knowledge was to enter into something yourself; then you would be equipped to pass it on to others.
A coach’s first responsibility is to steward his or her own life. That means having healthy relationships with God and others, living a balanced life, enjoying your work, keeping priorities in order and making a sacrificial contribution to your church and society. I call this “living the lifestyle of a coach.” Part of being a coach is living the kind of life you want for your clients. If you are stressed out, unhappy at work, aggravated at home, or insecure in your relationships, you won’t make an effective coach—you won’t be giving your best. Who you are is what you will be giving to others. Needy people don’t make good coaches. As a coach, take responsibility in conversations with your clients.
A pioneer in Christian leadership coaching, Tony Stoltzfus has trained thousands of coaches, founded several leadership and coaching schools and created a wide range of leadership resources used around the world.