Christian Life Coaching is the “art and practice of enabling individuals and groups to move from where they are to where they want to be,” explains Dr. Gary Collins in his groundbreaking book, Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality.
For the purposes of this Christian Life Coaching website, we will operate under this simple definition combined with the one established by the International Coach Federation (ICF): “Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
The ICF further clarifies that coaches are trained to listen, to observe, and to customize their approach to individual client needs. “They [coaches] seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has (emphasis added).”
Naturally, as distinctly Christian Life Coaches, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the discernment process. Whether our clients are Christians are not, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and that same Spirit knows the plans, the giftings, the callings that He has for each of our clients (cf Jer. 1:5; 29:11; Rom. 11:29 among others). As Christian life coaches, we partner with the Holy Spirit, joining in His work in our clients’ lives.
How Christian Life Coaching is Distinct from Other Service Professions
Professional Christian Life Coaching differs in critically important ways from other people-helping relationships, such as mentoring, discipling, consulting, and counseling.
If coaches are to elicit solutions and strategies from the client, it follows that coaches must work in an ‘inside-out’ manner — they seek to draw out what is already inside the client.
Mentoring, discipling, consulting and counseling, however, work primarily from the ‘outside-in’ – fostering abilities that a novice lacks.
[list style="orb" color="black"]
- Mentoring: A mentor’s role is to infuse skills and expertise into the inner person of an apprentice by teaching, modeling, advising, and guiding.
- Discipling: Similarly, a discipler has maturity in the faith and their goal is to infuse into the convert the basic tenants of that faith — its moral codes, spiritual disciplines and so forth. They do this by teaching, modeling, advising and guiding.
- Consulting: A consultant brings expertise to a situation they were hired to address. They provide what is lacking through teaching, modeling, advising, and guiding.
- Counseling: A counselor has templates in their mind of what constitutes mental health, or good parenting, or healthy grieving, or effective communication and the like. They work to infuse those into the inner being of their clients through teaching, modeling, advising, and guiding.
A coach, by contrast, does virtually no teaching, modeling, advising, or guiding.
Coaching works primarily from the inside out — drawing out what is already inside of a client, helping them manifest it in their outer person.
They do this through questioning, probing, prodding, reflecting back, clarifying, reframing, and challenging.
Why Christian Coaches are Like Detectives
Coaches are much more like detectives than mentors, disciplers, consultants, or counselors. Think about it. Detectives don’t show up with answers; they don’t teach, model, advice, or guide.
Detectives probe and dig, they search for clues, they form hypotheses, and they work hunches. And through this process of intentional inquiry and clarification, they draw out answers. Through questioning they determine whodunit and why and how.
The analogy of a detective forms the core of our definition of coaching, and it’s the reason that our foundational scripture is Proverbs 20:5 – “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
Life coaches cannot possibly be experts on their clients’ unique life paths, or giftings, or life callings. They don’t have the knowledge their clients are seeking, so they cannot impart it to them through teaching, modeling, advising, or guiding. They must draw it out from the clients themselves.
How Christian Coaching Advances God’s Purposes
We believe that a new profession has emerged. It has settled on the name “Life Coaching,” and the gift it brings to the Church, if we will embrace it, is this inside-out process of drawing out the deep purposes of God in persons’ lives.
We hope this community of Christian Life Coaches will advance that work throughout the world, for the greater glory of God.
If you would like to learn more about how coaching can further God’s purposes in your life or church, contact us today.