By Jim Langley
Over the course of my life, I have often considered a career in coaching. I have enjoyed helping someone with their golf swing, since I have a good grasp of the fundamentals of the game and play fairly well. I also wondered about coaching baseball – but realized I had been away from the game for too long. Then God guided me in a very different direction, to use my individual coaching skills to help friends and colleagues get back on track in their personal and business lives.
Whether working with an individual or team in a sport or engaging in someone about their personal life and career, effective coaching requires observation skills and an ability to perceive the person’s unique needs and potential. It also requires a student’s willingness to learn and apply principles being taught.
For example, a golf professional may face the unenviable task of making needed changes to the golf swing of a student who has been hitting the ball improperly for years. He must coach to overcome the golfer’s tendency to revert to old habits. Similarly, in personal coaching, the coach must also help the student learn to change old tendencies that can inhibit personal growth.
A Christ-based coaching program I completed several years ago was of great benefit, but I learned that no amount of sincerity will bring success if the individual is unwilling to make the needed changes for personal growth. In seeking to coach others, what has worked best for me is coming alongside people exhibiting a true desire to improve in some aspect of their lives.
I guide them through a simple approach for pursuing goals, taking them from Point A to Point B. Once Point B has been reached, it becomes a new “Point A” and the students determine the new “Point B” they wish to achieve, empowered by God’s Spirit. My job is to get out of the way, monitor progress, encourage them, observe their results, and thank God for what has been accomplished.
The Bible offers many examples of life coaching. Here are some principles the Scriptures present about this important strategy for personal and professional growth.
We sharpen each other. While the role of a coach is to help another person, both individuals can experience growth as they interact with one another over time. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
We strive for a change of heart. In life coaching, we first look for a changed attitude. Once the heart changes, the person becomes more motivated to learn, grow and understand themselves better. King David candidly prayed, “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
We draw strength from one another. Ultimately, our Personal Coach is God’s Holy Spirit, but we need to have others to call upon for good counsel during challenging times. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
We pass on what has been modeled for us. One goal of life coaching is to equip others to become effective coaches for others. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
© 2023, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.
- When you hear the word “coaching,” what comes to your mind? What do you think is the difference between coaching and mentoring, if any?
- Have you ever spent time with a mentor or a life coach? If so, what has that experience been like – both good and bad?
- What are the potential pitfalls of refusing to seek out or even accept coaching, whether for personal or professional purposes?
- Why do you think the heart – one’s attitude or motivations – is so important in having a successful coaching relationship?
NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages:
Psalm 51:10-12; Proverbs 8:1,6-11; 15:21-24; 27:9-10; John 14:15-17; 1 John 4:19-21