When was the last time you considered coaching to move you forward? The other day I had the privilege of enjoying an informal meeting with a professional pastoral coach. I wanted to learn more about what a professional coach does and how coaching could help people. The coach with whom I spoke made it pretty clear that coaching is a bit different from counseling. He said that counseling takes you from a bad spot and brings you to a better spot. But coaching is an intentional way to take you from good to great.
I’ve had some interesting coaches in my life. I’ve spent time on swim teams, football teams, tennis teams, and track teams. I’ve even had golf coaches. Each coach I’ve had takes a different approach. Some come alongside you and gently show you what you’re doing wrong. Others are literally right in your face barking instructions, pointing out flaws, and even praising your accomplishments.
One coach in particular stands out in my mind. My freshman football coach used every ounce of energy and fire within him to push me as a new player. I had never played tackle football before, but had enjoyed some success on our grade school flag football team. Our freshman football coach wanted to make real football players out of us. So he lined us up, held a big blocking pad in front of his chest, and told us to hit him as hard as he could. He meant it.
So I wound up and hit him just like he told me: as hard as I could. I nearly knocked him over. I’ll never forget his response. He regained his balance, roared with approval, and slapped me on the back. “That’s what I mean,” he shouted to the rest of the team. “Hit me like that!”
I will never say that I was a great football player. But my coach stretched me to a level as a football player that I had never known before. He used both fear and encouragement. He helped me to reach deep down inside of myself and find something I had never known before. I never knew I could hit as hard as I did that day. It paved the way for me to be a blocking back for my fellow running back who was far faster than I could ever be. I found my niche as a football player.
That’s all well and good for football, but what about your career or calling? My professional coaching friend made it clear that he wants to help good pastors become great pastors. He gave me some examples of how he walked pastors through issues, or programs, or simply a standstill in their ministry. He admitted that it was immensely satisfying to see his clients move forward both personally and professionally.
The key, he said, was asking questions that stretch his clients. He learned this skill by taking classes and becoming certified in his profession. In other words, he knows the right questions to ask. He doesn’t necessarily give advice. He knows how to enable his clients to move forward by coming to their own conclusions and accomplishing their own specific goals.
Have you ever considered hiring a coach? If you’re feeling stuck, or lacking motivation, or needing a nudge, it might be the right decision for you. A small investment now could make a world of difference in your life or career and take you from good to great. You will be stretched in ways that you never could be on your own. You could find your niche in your career and gain respect as a leader.
How has a coach had an impact on your life?