Be who you are meant to be…
Natalie Andrews reflects on the ever-surprising call of God on her life, and how this has continually inspired her to use mentoring and coaching skills to enable others to reach their potential. How might you see God moving you to engage with mentoring and coaching as a part of your story?
‘Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire’ said St Catherine of Sienna.
This is one of my most favourite quotes. I love how it starts with who we are, but shows that we can impact our world in amazing ways as we grow more into who God calls us to be.
Often there are some surprises along the way and this has been my experience over the past few years. I started my working career as a Speech and Language Therapist – eventually becoming a specialist working with clients with Brain Injury. I then became a mother and began to sense that God was calling me out of Speech and Language Therapy – so I took some time out to focus on my call to be a mother and it was during this time that I began to discern a call to ordination in the Church of England. I never really saw myself as a traditional parish priest but I think within the church there is still a bias to this being the superior way of responding to a call to ordination – but as we know God calls people in very specific ways, so there isn’t just one model. I hope that some of the recent focus in the Church of England on ‘Setting God’s People Free’ will enable us to embrace and celebrate the variety of ways God invites us to partner with him in the world.
My passion to enable others to be more who they are created to be led me to train as a Pastoral Supervisor and Spiritual Director, setting up ‘Pearl Space’ – an opportunity to create a regular (usually a monthly, hour long session), boundaried space for clients to reflect on their pastoral practice, weaving the five strands of pastoral supervision together. This enables something beautiful to be birthed — the pearl within.
Little did I know last winter that God would stretch me further, calling me to use my passions for sport and wellbeing, mission and evangelism, and seeing others flourish in a new way. God called me out of local church leadership and into a new post within the Church of England’s Evangelism and Discipleship team. In June, I started as National Sport and Wellbeing Project Lead – it’s a new project, working with seven C of E pilot dioceses and organisations to embed and use sport and wellbeing ministry as a significant evangelistic tool/mechanism, through the development of diocesan strategies. The project aims to: engage the church by using sport as a conduit for evangelism and mission; reach communities by building local community which points to Jesus’ invitation to abundant life; and transform the nation by improving our nation’s health and wellbeing in body, mind and soul.
The ethos of the project is ‘Abundant Lives’, based on John 10:10: ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’ (The Message Translation).
As well as continuing to offer Pastoral Supervision and Spiritual Direction outside of my new role, as Project Lead I have many opportunities to use coaching and mentoring skills. For example:
Development of a Learning Community – This learning community brings together between three and seven representatives from each pilot diocese – it’s a space for mutual learning, discovery and change. The learning community has an ethos of all being on a journey of learning together, no one person being the expert. From this November, we will gather every three months and each of the community gatherings will be framed around three questions , ‘What is?’ What could be?’ and ‘What will be? I am very much looking forward to seeing what God does in and through this space.
The other area that I’m using mentoring and coaching skills within this project is by offering a Monthly Consultation Call for senior leaders in the pilot dioceses – this is a space for leaders to think about their context and how they are embedding Sport and Wellbeing in a strategic way within their diocese. This is perhaps more a mentoring model as I am able suggest specific interventions which might bring about the desired change or development strategically. I will also be encouraging each diocese to coach those in their dioceses who are running sport and wellbeing initiatives.
I’m looking forward to this new season, growing more into who I am called to be and enabling others, through the learning community and my private work, to set the world on fire!