Why Ministers Need a Coach

By Ken Gosnell

The Harvard Business Review (November 2004) noted that coaching is a $1 billion business in the United States. Business leaders have recognized the need for coaching in their organizations, and churches would be wise to follow suit.

Coaching is unique and different from counseling. Coaching is about taking control of your life, being goal-directed and action-oriented, and deepening your knowledge of yourself. It allows the person being coached to dream big and then believe his dream can become a reality.

Coaching allows a person to focus on moving forward and gives him the courage to face his fears and step out of his comfort zone. It helps him take a hard, honest look at what is and isn’t working in his life.

Ministers need a coach. No other organization needs strong leadership more than the church. No business needs people to be aware of their potential pitfalls more than the church. Good ministers lead good churches and great ministers lead great churches. Coaching can help good ministers become great ministers.

Ministers need coaching because they are often left isolated and alone. In ministry the stakes are high, and ministers are often left alone to navigate the winds of change and conflict in their churches. Coaches can partner with ministers to help them have a broader view of their ministry. Coaches can identify the reality of various situations because they are detached from the emotions of the moment.

Ministers need coaching because they are often trapped in a forest of details. One great benefit of coaching is it helps the minister move past the pointless activities that do not help a church advance toward its desired goals. The minister is often swayed by opinions and expectations of the congregation. Although the minister must be sensitive to these expectations, he should also be shrewd enough to identify pointless activities that do not benefit the congregation. When priorities are blurred, it is a big help to call on a coach who can help decide the difference between the pointless and the powerful activities that should be accomplished.

Ministers need coaching because they must practice accountability. The number one task of a coach is to keep the people they coach accountable to reach certain goals and objectives. This is true in the sporting world and needs to be true in the spiritual world as well. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for a minister to be accountable to a person in his church. He simply cannot expose areas of weakness that might be exploited for various reasons. A coach provides a safe haven for the minister to express his innermost thoughts and opinions. The coach provides accountability. This allows the minister to truly become an example and a model to follow for all Christians.

Ministers need coaching because soon they will be called on to coach. Business leaders are receiving coaching now. Many of the most respected and admired corporations in the United States are spending major dollars to coach their managers. These same individuals will look to the church to coach them in their spiritual lives. Ministers must equip themselves to be good coaches. What better way of doing this than by first being coached themselves?

Ministers need coaching because they must model continual growth and development. Dr. Alan Nelson says, “Coaching is more about developing a person than it is about fixing a specific problem.” Coaching creates a powerful alliance between the coach and client. The relationship is designed to enhance and advance the lifelong process of human learning, effectiveness, and fulfillment. Leaders are learners. Coaching helps the person being coached learn about the thing they may have studied least—themselves. They learn what is working and what is not working in their lives. Then, they learn how to change.

In the December/January issue of Fortune Small Business, Lance Armstrong pays homage to his coach: “Chris Carmichael has been my coach, my trainer, and my friend for more than a decade. I would not be a Tour de France champion without him.”

The point is clear—even champions need coaches. Or, even further, a person will never become a champion without a coach. The church needs champions.

Ken Gosnell works with a new multigenerational church in the Washington, D.C., Metro area and presents seminars and workshops for churches on “Becoming a Generational Church.” He also coaches pastors and ministry leaders. Contact him at kenpeaks@yahoo.com or check out his Web site at www.kensaltcoaching.com.

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