One important role of coaching is to help individuals get a better grip on their life. This can come in the form of better time management or gaining greater overall balance between the major components of one’s life. Typically the goal is to reduce or manage stress and create a higher level of productivity, performance, and personal fulfillment. All of this of course, presupposes the individual has a certain amount of control over the issues they want to better manage.
Now, bringing our lives into a place of better harmony and balance is a very good thing. No one wants to live life in a place of constantly feeling like they are up to their necks in water and struggling very hard just to keep their heads above it. The drain from such an existence can lead to all kinds of emotional and physical issues. Assisting others in moving their lives into a place where there is less stress and a greater sense of peace is one of the services a good coach can provide.
The Aim of Transformational Coaching
But beyond these practical concerns, what really should be the aim of coaching, particularly if it is to be “transformational”? Is the ultimate goal simply to help guide the individual towards eliminating all difficult and trying situations from their lives, even if that were possible? Is it simply to help them reduce stress and increase their performance or productivity?
Coaching, that has as its aim the transformation of the individual, takes into consideration the fact that much of personal development and growth in grace is directly connected with how one engages or deals with the uncomfortable, stress producing situations and circumstances of life. Regardless of how or why they have shown up in one’s lives, what can be a healthy perspective about such situations and how might one engage them to bring about the best outcome in their personal development? This should be a focus of transformational coaching.
The target of transformational coaching is the heart, not just the performance, of the individual. It is coaching that defines success and forward movement in people’s lives in terms of the internal renovation of the heart that causes them to reflect more of Christ in their beliefs, thoughts and desires, subsequently impacting their actions. It takes into consideration the “big picture” context in which everyone’s personal story is being written and lived out within the larger story of God in Christ reconciling the world to himself and producing a vast human family of sons and daughters who reflect the family likeness and are learning to rule and reign in life with Christ.
What is God Up To?
A few years ago I used to receive a “Daily Reading” from Ransomed Heart ministries. One morning’s reading was entitled, “I Wonder What God Is Up To”. This particular posting was taken from the book, The Sacred Romance, co-authored by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. This particular story appears to have been written by John. I’ve included it here in its brief entirety.
“Several years ago I went through one of the most painful trials of my professional life. The story involves a colleague whom I will call Dave, a man I hired and with whom I had labored several years in ministry. We spent many hours on the road together, speaking to churches about the Christian life. A point came when I needed to confront Dave about some issues in his life that were hurting his own ministry and the larger purposes of our team. In all fairness, I think I handled it poorly, but I was totally unprepared for what happened next. Dave turned on me with the ferocity of a cornered animal. He fabricated lies and spread rumors in an attempt to destroy my career. His actions were so out of proportion it was hard to believe we were reacting to the same events. He went to the head pastor in an attempt to have me dismissed. The attempt failed, but our friendship was lost, and several others were hurt in the process.
In the midst of the crisis, I spoke with Brent one afternoon about the turn of events and the awful pain of betrayal. He said, “I wonder what God is up to in all this?”
“God?” I said. “What’s he got to do with it?” My practical agnosticism was revealed. I was caught up in the sociodrama, the smaller story, completely blind to the true story at that point in my life. Brent’s question arrested my attention and brought it to a higher level. In fact, the process of our sanctification, our journey, rests entirely on our ability to see life from the basis of that question. As the poet William Blake warned long ago, “Life’s dim window of the soul distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and leads you to believe a lie, when you see with, not through, the eye.” (My emphasis)
Opportunities For a Spiritual Upgrade
This “practical agnosticism” is in every one of us. So, as a coach, what if we were to approach situations such as John’s with the question Brent posed? What is God up to? Transformational coaching zeros in on these kinds of situations a client may be walking through as opportunities for God to deal with the issues of the heart, their belief paradigms. What if these kinds of situations actually pose an opportunity for a spiritual upgrade? What is God’s learning agenda in this situation? There will be times where God is calling a client to be proactive in simplifying their lives or adjust their priorities. There will be other situations where there isn’t a list of neat solutions they can apply to “fix” everything. God is using the situation to get at something deeper and more significant in their life.
God is concerned about every aspect of our lives, even the more basic and mundane. The scriptures are very clear on this. But certain things hold a greater priority than others for him. I’ve often said that God is more concerned about my character than he is about my comfort, and he will use a measure of discomfort to shape my character, if indeed I allow him to. Transformational coaching seeks to address the issues that can potentially bring about change at the very core of who we are – our beliefs, our identity, our desires and needs – the things that drive and motivate our behavior. It is change at this level leading to the formation of Christ in us that promotes the purposes of God and results in the best benefit to others and ourselves.