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Unprecedented” is the most over-used word to describe the world today!

Imbedded in this word is the realization we’ve not been here before. The familiar landmarks and road signs are missing or confusing. The maps we’re referencing are out of date. We’re not sure which direction to go or if we should just take a seat and wait it out.

When faced with navigating new and unfamiliar territory, thousands of effective leaders have discovered the value of coaching – having a trusted companion join you on the journey to guide you toward a meaningful destination.

You don’t have to wander or wonder any longer!

Want to know more?

Schedule a no-cost, no-obligation, 30-minute introductory session here.

 

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Hope for Discouraged Pastors

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As a group, pastors typically dream big, God-sized dreams for their ministry and their people. They hold on to the hope that one day the people they serve and lead will be transformed spiritually. Unfortunately, they also often take personal responsibility for the lack of spiritual growth of those same people. These factors often combine to create a sense of deep disappointment – even failure – when reality doesn’t seem to line up with their dreams and expectations.

If you are in ministry, then you have tasted discouragement.

Joe Donaldson Coaching helps discouraged pastors enjoy greater effectiveness, passion, insight and clarity in ministry. Together we will design a coaching series around your area of greatest need. Here are a few examples:

  1. Finding Your Joy Again
  2. Launching New Ministries
  3. Vision Alignment
  4. Staying Sharp
  5. Navigating Transitions – especially in light of COVID-19

Each coaching series will include personal assessment, ministry alignment, specific action plans, and ongoing follow-up. Imagine what this season of ministry could look like if you had an experienced, trusted confidant to help guide you along the way!

I am an experienced pastor (as well as a trained and certified coach) who is uniquely qualified to help you enjoy greater effectiveness, passion, insight, and clarity in your ministry. Contact me here for no-cost 30-minute conversation and let’s explore together what that could look like for you!

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The Best Coaching Question I’ve Ever Been Asked!

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Two years ago I was having a conversation with a friend. As we were talking about a challenge I was having in ministry he asked me a question that I consider to be the best coaching question I’ve ever been asked. I use it often – but sparingly. In fact, I used it today. Here it is:

“When you pray about this, what do you hear God telling you?”

Even as you read this I’m guessing you responded with something like an, “Ahhhhhh!” and you immediately recognize the multi-faceted impact of this question. It contains at least three expectations:

  1. An expectation that the person being coached prays and values conversing with God.
  2. An expectation that prayer is two-way and that one will hear from God through prayer.
  3. An expectation that the person being coached has already spent time praying about this issue.

As a christian ministry leader (pastor) everyone I coach is also a Christian and many are ministry leaders. For me, these are reasonable expectations to hold when I and/or the person I am coaching identifies as a Christian, but even people with other spiritual beliefs could benefit from it.

Whenever I ask the “When you pray” question the response is always the same. After a brief pause they say, “Hmmm. Good question!” What follows varies. Sometimes there is an admission of little or no prayer about the issue. Other times there is an expression of uncertainty or a desire for more clarity in what they are hearing from God. In just about every case there is a renewed commitment to prayer. Perhaps we collectively realize that the quote from Oswald Chambers is accurate, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense.”

Let me say that I never lead with this question! It’s not a short-cut. When I coach I ask questions that help the coachee identify the topic, develop awareness of the issues that influence the topic, and discover meaningful solutions. I try to ask this question only when I sense that the coachee appears to be stuck or is not considering the impact their spiritual beliefs can bring to the conversation. And I find that it’s a great question to frequently ask myself!

I enjoy coaching ministry leaders. Some are struggling to get things done or to implement a new approach. Others are wrestling with vision and call. Many are in some type of transition. If that’s you we should talk. I offer no-cost, no-obligation initial consults. From there you can decide if coaching is a good fit for you. Contact me and let’s get the conversation started.

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Why Telling People What to Do Doesn’t Work

 

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Actually, there’s a simple way to prove that telling people what to do doesn’t work. Here it is: Do you like being told what to do? Are you more likely to make a change if you’re told to do something or if you choose to implement that change on your own? In reality, no one likes being told what to do. And while we might comply with a demand that’s made of us, it will rarely result in any lasting change.

There’s some pretty good science to explain why this is true. According to an article by David Rock in the Neuro Leadership Journal the approach (reward) – avoid (threat) response is a reflexive activity that occurs unconsciously and automatically.  We quickly perceive situations and stimuli as containing either a threat or a reward. Not surprisingly, the way we perceive those situations determines whether we engage or we avoid. According to Rock, “Engagement is a state of being willing to do difficult things, take risks, to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions.” (emphasis added). That’s the goal of coaching!

In the coaching conversation the person being coached is guided toward a reward-engagement response by asking non-threatening questions which develop awareness and stimulate growth and action. The coach will avoid judgmental questions, leading questions, or what I call “test questions” where there is only one correct answer. Questions like these will result in an involuntary threat-avoidance response.  Someone who asks questions like these neither understands basic human behavior nor practices good coaching techniques. Just ask someone who has received good coaching and they’ll tell you: there’s one reason why coaching works – the questions! Not your basic run-of-the-mill yes/no questions or those there’s-only-one-right-answer questions or I’m-the-boss-and-I-want-an-answer-right-now type questions. A good coach asks questions that help you discover more about yourself and more about the journey you are on – “to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions!”

That’s why I enjoy being a coach! I get to ask the type of questions that help people become more engaged in the issues that matter most to them and to discover new pathways of success, effectiveness, and enjoyment in the pursuit of those life issues. If that sounds helpful to you, contact me and let’s start the conversation.

I offer a limited number of complimentary introductory coaching sessions each month. Contact me here about scheduling a session with you.

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What Charlie the dog Taught Me about Coaching!

Version 2Every summer we spend a week in our daughter and son-in-law’s home in Portland watching their dog while they take a family vacation. It’s really a win-win for everyone – except for Charlie! He’s a pretty chill dog – just lays around most of the time – but he can’t be trusted to be left alone in the house. So whenever we leave Charlie needs to be kenneled. Would you be surprised if I told you Charlie doesn’t like the kennel? Getting him into the kennel is a real challenge. It takes several commands, some begging, raised voices, and maybe a bribe or two!

This past summer I had a breakthrough. Charlie didn’t respond well as I stood at the destination and told him what to do, or when I stood several feet away pointing to the kennel and told Charlie to get in. So I tried something different: I walked up to the dog, stood next to him, and walked alongside him all the way to the kennel!  It worked!

In most areas of life we have people telling us what to do, where we need to be, and how to get there. In effect, we’re being commanded to “get in the kennel” when we really don’t want to! Eventually we surrender to this command and walk slowly into our own little prison with our tail between our legs! We don’t want to go there, we’re not going to enjoy being there, and we can’t wait to get out. The next time we’re supposed “get in the kennel” the process has to be repeated all over.

There’s a better way.

With coaching the coach walks alongside the person being coached, helping them discover the best process for them to get to their desired destination. Coaching works because the person being coached gets to decide the where, what, when, how, why, and who of the journey. No one is pointing to the destination and ordering you to go there. No one is raising their voices and barking commands at you. Instead, the coach functions as a guide who listens well and asks questions that aid your own personal discovery. In the end you will have designed the best next step for you along your journey.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way? It is. And there are thousands upon thousands of people who have discovered that coaching is a much better way to identify – and achieve – life’s next steps! I offer a limited number of no-obligation introductory sessions each month for people who want to give coaching a test-drive. Contact me and let’s start the conversation!

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Five Reasons to Start Coaching NOW!

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What? Start something as significant as coaching now? Just a we’re about to enter the busyness of the holiday season? Why not wait until after the first of the year?

Here are five reasons why today is absolutely the best time to start coaching:

 

  1. If you won’t start now you’re unlikely to start later. Putting things off until “the time is right” is a fools errand! The time is never right. There will always be distractions and busy schedules. By starting coaching now you will be able to get control of your life before the New Year starts. Actually, it’s this kind of “I’ll just wait until….” thinking is a strong indicator that getting a coach is imperative!
  2. It will give you a head start on those elusive New Year’s resolutions. How successful have you been in the past in making headway on your goals and resolutions? Like losing a few pounds, or changing your career, or finally getting control of your schedule? Would you like next year to be different? Initiating conversations with a coach now will permit you to put the actions into motion that will allow you to achieve the goals you’ve always hoped for.
  3. Coach’s Schedules Fill-Up In January. Beginning January 2, coach’s phones will start ringing and their email in-boxes will start overflowing. After the annual ritual of introspection leaves people wanting more, everyone will start looking for a way forward. Some of them will contact a coach. You can beat the rush and secure your place on their schedules by getting signed-up now. Even as I write this I am near my upper limit on my coaching load. Once that fills I won’t have openings for at least six months.
  4. It Will Change Your Storyline. Right now your story is riddled with enough failed attempts at getting things done to fill that junk drawer in your kitchen. How different would your life be if that were to change? Spending time with a coach will help make those changes a reality. Before you know it you will be telling all of your friends how great it feels to finally overcome those challenges and complete those tasks that have been unfinished for way too long.  Let that be your story!
  5. Doing nothing is not an option. If you don’t get started – and get started now – the odds are pretty good that next year at this time you will come across another article like this one and realize that nothing has changed. In fact, you might have even made a few steps backwards instead of moving forward. That’s just no good. Take that first step. And do it now!

Contact me today and let’s get the conversation started.

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4 Ways Coaching Is Like Good Jazz!

optimized-maxW950-jazz4I started playing the trumpet 50 years ago! While I’m a better classical trumpet player (I prefer playing from sheet music), I’ve always liked listening to jazz. It’s one of the truly American music forms. Recently, I discovered that listening to jazz actually makes me a better coach. Here’s how.

Improv. In jazz the melody is always there but sometimes it’s hidden behind a little free improvisation. You’re never really sure where the music is going because the musician doesn’t really know either! He’s free to explore different combinations, progressions, and resolutions. Every version of the song is different. Coaching conversations are very similar. There is a main focus to the conversation but there is freedom to explore combinations and the final resolution will reflect the uniqueness of the person being coached. No two conversations are the same.

Players. Most jazz groups are small – individuals, duets, trios, 5-piece, etc. While there are big jazz bands some of the best jazz sound comes from very small groups. Coaching takes advantage of the uniqueness of the individual to create successful pathways and solutions. In christian coaching that duet between the coach and the person-being-coached includes the Holy Spirit – the perfect 3-piece combo!

Movement. There are times while listening to jazz that you just have to move along with the music. You might tap a finger, a foot, or even both feet! There’s no reason to fight it. Enjoy the beauty of the rhythm and harmonies in the moment. Close your eyes if you want to. In coaching we refer to this as “dancing in the moment.” It’s what happens when the person-being-coached “leads” into new territory with a reply to a question and the coach “follows” his or her lead with more questions. The conversation is not choreographed – it happens with both spontaneity and purposefulness – and movement is created.

Resolution. Every piece of jazz ends a bit differently but most often there is a sense of resolution that just feels right. Often it evokes a nod and a smile. Coaching can evoke much the same response. A sense of resolution. A nod of agreement and direction. A smile that a plan is in place that will bring about change and growth – even anticipation for the next set (coaching conversation).

Improv. Players. Movement. Resolution – all key elements of a good jazz selection and of a good coaching session. Listening to jazz is making me a better coach!

Ready to move into your own coaching conversation? Contact me today. Let’s get started!

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Four Secrets of Successful Ministry Leaders

Leaders-Managing-CrisisLet’s face it. No matter how good we think we are as leaders we all know we can do better. Here are four quick secrets that will unlock your leadership:

1) Take Risks. Successful ministry leaders take risks. Church planter/Lead Pastor Marlan Mincks says, “What God has for us is never realized in safety. It’s only realized in risk.” You can sit around and wait for ever thing to fall in place on it’s own or you can take a risk and go for it! I asked an “elephant in the room” question at a board of directors meeting once that ended up with us relocating our ministry center from Chicago to Orlando. If I’d kept my mouth shut the opportunity to move would have been lost for good.

2) Read. Pastor Rick Warren writes, “If you want to be a growing leader…keep reading. It’s the only way to stay out front.” [Read More] The two best book I’ve read in recent months are “Overrated” by Eugene Cho because it challenged my views of missions and justice [Review] and “What Radical Husbands Do” by Regi Campbell because of its clarity and directness in my most important leadership role.

3) Get assessed. Succesful ministry leaders invite assessment of their ministry and leadership skills. Author David Olson has created a FREE online leadership assessment that accompanies his book: Discovering Your Leadership Style. It’s worth the 5 minutes of your time. sixstyles.org
 
4) Get Coached. Neil Tibbots of Leadership On-Ramp ranks the coaching of church planters as even more important than their assessment. An assessed but uncoached church planter is unlikely to successfully plant a church. A good coach can help you develop as a leader and chart a course toward continued ministry success.
 
Contact me today and let me help you get started making significant progress toward unlocking these secrets in your own ministry.
 
joedonaldson@icloud.com
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Top Ten Reasons to Get a Coach

Don’t think you need a coach? Think again! Here are ten reasons why you should get a coach:

10. Your boss (or your spouse) told you so!
Ok. So this one is not very subtle! When someone important in your life tells you to get help they mean it! You may not see the value in getting coached yet but you should trust their advice (or plea!) and call a coach today.

9. You were passed over for a promotion…again!
Let’s see if we can’t figure out together why this keeps happening. It might be related to #10 (see above) or #2 through #8 (see below). Taking responsibility for your own direction and development is a great outcome of coaching.

8. You’re in a performance loop.
Does your life remind you of the movie “Groundhog Day?” Have you been down this road before repeating the same tasks and mistakes? epic coaching can help you break out of the loop.

7. You keep hitting the wall.
Different from a performance loop (see #8 above) you just can’t seem to get past a certain point. You’ve tried different tactics but there just doesn’t seem anyway over, around, under, or through that wall. A fresh conversation with a good coach can help you discover some fresh and effective ways to get past the wall.

6. You struggle with achieving an elusive goal.
You understand the importance of setting goals but there are one or more goals which seem to be just beyond your reach. A coach can help you set smart goals to produce the results you really want.

5. You have poor follow-through.
Every year you set new goals. Every month you review those goals and determine to make progress toward achieving them – except the goals haven’t really changed in years. A coach can help you turn those goals into actions so you can start making progress.

4. You don’t even know where to start!
While you’ve identified the problem you don’t have any clue where to start in tackling the problem. Coaching is an intentional conversation which will help you identify the most helpful steps for you.

3. You lack purpose or direction.
You have a sense that something is not quite right and that things could be better but beyond this, it’s just kind of fuzzy! If you would like to bring some clarity to your life, then talk with a coach.

2. You want something more.
You are ready to move forward and to take the next step. You’ve been in this rut for far too long and it’s time to take action! This is where coaching pays huge dividends. A coach will help you get where you want to go – faster!

1. It works!
Coaching works because no one is telling you what to do or how to do it! The coaching conversation focuses on the future and on actively achieving the goals you have set. Coaching gets the results you want.

Ready to talk to a coach?  I can help you get started. Contact me for a no-cost 30-minute intro session and let’s start the conversation!

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Let’s Talk About Coaching!


Are you looking for a coach? Do you know what a coach does and what you can expect in a coaching relationship? Do you know the difference between coaching, consulting,counseling, and mentoring? Here are some answers to those questions.

First some definitions. According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as:

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Creative Results Management (CRM) defines coaching this way:

“Christian coaching is an on-going intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.”

And Linda Miller and Chad Hall submit this definition in their book, Coaching for Christian Leaders:

“Christian coaching is a focused Christ-centered relationship that cultivates a person’s sustained growth and action.”

This simple chart might help you understand the difference between coaching, consulting, counseling, and mentoring.

If this description of coaching sounds interesting to you I invite you to contact me. I’d be happy to explore with you how epic coaching can help you get unstuck and go further faster.

Downloadable version of chart:  coaching chart

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The COACH Model – A Discipleship Tool

In a previous post I wrote about the start of my journey into coaching. In that post I reviewed “Coaching 101” from CoachNet. As I talked with people about coaching I was referred by David DeVries to CRM and their COACH Model. What I have found is an organization and system that appears to be exactly what I am looking for! One strength is that they offer a local training that is longer (5 days instead of 2) for half the price! The process could move me toward certification within a year.

The COACH Model is based on this definition of coaching: Coaching is an intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling. (p. 28)

Coaching is so much more than a management fad or trend. It guides a person along a path of self-discovery to take specific steps toward effectively achieving their goals. It’s not teaching, instructing, or even nudging people toward a predetermined outcome. Coaching is completely centered on the coachee (the one being coached) and not on the background or expertise of the coach. I plan to use coaching as a discipleship tool to help people go deeper in their relationship with Jesus and to equip ministry leaders become more effective in their ministries.

The COACH Model by Keith Webb lays out an intuitive coaching process from Connect (C) to Highlights (H). The rest of the process is Outcome (O), Awareness (A), and Course (C). Here’s a partial description of each from pp 43-44:

C is for Connect – First, connecting to the person you are talky with to build rapport and trust; and second, following-up on action steps from your previous coaching conversation.

O is for outcome – Outcome is the intended result the coachee would like to achieve during the conversation.

A is for awareness – Awareness is a reflective dialogue intended to produce discoveries, insights, and increased perspective for the coachee.

C is for course – Course puts feet to insights and discoveries by helping the coachee create action steps.

H is for highlights – Highlights focus on reviewing the parts of the conversation that the coach found most meaningful.

Throughout the book Webb fully develops each of the five components of the COACH Model with conversational examples, sample questions, and plenty of instruction.

As I read through The COACH Model I found stuff that I can put to immediate use with the guys I am coaching. I highlighted enough text that I quickly realized that this would be a book that I would want to read more than once. It is very content-rich and I want to make sure that I glean as much as I can from it in order to provide meaningful coaching conversations with those I coach.

If you have interest in developing your coaching skills, The COACH Model by Keith Webb is a great tool to help you achieve that goal. If you are a second chair leader I would strongly encourage you to look into coaching as an important tool for your toolbox. I believe that coaching will help me become a better men’s ministry leader and will be a valuable tool for many years in a variety of life and ministry applications.