From Coaching to Coach
It was a cold wet Wednesday evening as I loaded the car with all the kit for the under 15’s football training. If I’m totally honest, I’m not completely sure how I ended up coaching the team, but what could be so difficult about herding a dozen hormonal teenagers around a football pitch?! Besides, secretly I was quite excited, whistle in hand and with my scribbled-out plan, what could possible go wrong?! This was my first venture into coaching…
Following on from these tentative steps in football coaching, the word Coach has taken on a whole new meaning for me, particularly in recent years. I was always aware of the tool of coaching for people and leadership development, but I had little formal experience of it. However, over the last 5 years, I have been involved in training coaches and seeking to embed a culture of coaching within the organisation I get to serve. Generally speaking it is going pretty well; we have designed a bespoke course and over 75 coaches have been trained, many are now engaged in coaching others. So, if I believe in coaching, I am committed to it and train others in it, why do I find it so flipping hard to do it myself?
It’s become a bit of a buzz word recently; we are supposed to be intentional about everything from the hours we sleep to the time we eat and the steps we take. One of the shifts I have found difficult in accelerating coaching in my life and ministry is prioritising the time for it. I’m not sure if it’s a guilt thing or whether it feels too much like having coffee with friends, but other tasks always seem to take priority over meeting others for coaching. I’m pretty good at getting started but sustaining the meetings is a real challenge.
Then there is the fear of what to say, not that I run out of things to say often, but what to say of meaning and value. Sometimes I feel less pressure preaching to 1000 than sitting listening to one. Where will the conversation go? Does it seem helpful? How can I prepare? All these questions fill my mind before, during and after a coaching session.
This one is hard to put into words, often it’s just a niggle. It starts with me questioning the value of the session from the coachee’s perspective and having doubts about my listening and questioning skills. Sometimes the internal dialogue is so loud it crowds out the actual conversation I am having. On paper I should be good at this I tell myself, but somehow it continues to be one of the most vulnerable places I find myself in ministry.
So just like the experience of the wet Wednesday evening on the football pitch, I role up my sleeves and have a go. Giving it my best shot despite my vulnerabilities.
It was David Carter who said ‘The goal of becoming the best version of ourselves is a goal that is profoundly satisfying and worthwhile – indeed, the most important goal of our life.’
We cannot simply expect great things to happen in our own lives and that of our families, churches and communities without first allowing the GREAT God we follow to shape and refine us into everything He created us to be. Coaching has become a fantastic tool for me in supporting, questioning and drawing out the God given potential of many leaders – plus it’s shaping and growing me too!