Finding that one resource that helps you accomplish what God has for you next can be daunting. It is easy in life, and in particular pastoral ministry, to begin to feel overwhelmed, stuck and uncertain about what to do next, therefore, doing nothing at all. It is at this point where a good coach is vital.
I have had the privilege of being coached by some fantastic people. Some coaching was long term. Others were just a single meeting. Some coaches I have never personally met before. There have always been coaches in my life that I can point to who have helped me grow as a disciple and a leader.
So, how do you find a good coach?
- Pray. James is very clear, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5). The Lord may grant his wisdom extemporaneously, he may, through private devotions, grant the wisdom needed for the issue being addressed. He may also reveal someone who is in your network who has the experience to coach you in an area you need to grow. Pray and ask the Lord.
- Clearly identify what ways you want to grow. If you do not define the area you are seeking coaching for then a discussion with a coach will not be as effective. Yes, you may emotionally feel better after the conversation but the likelihood that you have effectively begun to move forward toward growth is small. It will do you no good to meet with a coach if you cannot identify what areas of your life and ministry you need to grow. Personal vision, preaching skills or administrator skills are a broad sampling of areas you might consider as growth areas. The most effective coaching sessions focus on an identifiable trait to become better at. Before you seek out a coach take the time to write down the key areas you want to grow in and then define what the primary issue is.
- Look for someone you know. There are some fantastic people in your network. Start looking at them. Your association, network or council, whatever label your network uses has tremendous people who are really good and effective in areas you are not. You do not need to be coached by THE guy, THE expert, THE current Christian celebrity. Someone you already know who is doing a good job in the area in which you want to improve is the ideal coach. It would be amazing to have coffee with whoever your hero of the church is but most likely that is not the coach you need.
- Look for someone who is one step ahead of where you want to be. The coach you need is someone who is one step ahead in the skill in which you need to grow. I have been able to meet with a coach three or four times over the course of a year that is really good at an area I need to better myself. I am in the process of seeking out a coach for another area. The point is I would like to be coached by a Christian celebrity but I do not need to be. I need to be coached by someone who is one step ahead of where God is leading me next.
- Join a coaching network. You may need to join a coaching network. Often coaching networks require a financial investment. The initial costs of that network may seem shocking. Consider the networks, and there are all sorts of them available, as an investment rather than an expense.
- Be coached virtually through reading and listening. Leaders are readers and readers are leaders. Some of the finest coaches are available to you through great books, journals and podcasts. Great people and great content are available wherever it is you happen to be through virtual coaching. Read a book that will grow your skills and not just encourage your soul. Subscribe to a wide range of periodicals and podcasts that can encourage and challenge. We live in an amazing age with information delivered directly to us. Take advantage of virtual coaching.
Determining what the Lord has next is always challenging. Take time to surround yourself with others who will invest themselves in you. Get a good coach.