Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

The Epic Coaching Approach

epic coaching logoBefore you choose a coach you should find out a little about the way they would coach you. What kind of training have they had? What are their core coaching values, their basic coaching assumptions, and their methods? This is the first in a series to answer those questions about my coaching.

I was trained by Creative Results Management, completing their CORE coach training in 2012 and their EXCEL training in 2013. I am a member of ICF (International Coach Federation) and was  awarded their ACC certification in 2013 and anticipate receiving the PCC (Professional Coach Certification)  and the Coach-Approach Ministries CCLC (Certified Christian Leadership Coach) early in 2016.

My coaching philosophy follows closely what Linda Miller & Chad Hall describe in their book: “Coaching for Christian Leaders.” I will excerpt their work here. (Please refer to chapter 1 of Coaching Christian Leaders for the complete text.)

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

Focused. Christian coaching is purposeful in intent. The focus in a coaching relationship is always on the person being coached and supporting that person’s growth and action.

Christ-centered. The assumption in Christian coaching is that the coach is a Christian while the person being coached may or not. The coach’s faith impacts the entire coaching relationship.

Relationship. Each Coaching relationship is unique. It is a relationship with a commitment. The commitment is to Christ and to the person being coached.

Cultivates. Through coaching conversations the person being coached is able to focus on specific personal opportunities or challenges, anticipate barriers, identify resources, and develop an action plan.

Sustained growth and action. Coaching is about transformation. Coaching always results in action. The coach supports the person being coached in developing action plans as well as systems of accountability for following through on those plans.

(p.12 – Coaching for Christian Leaders)

I’d be happy to talk with you about how coaching can benefit you. Contact me and let’s start the conversation!

God Wants You To Be Holy

Every once in a while you hear about a book that someone reads every year. Screwtape Letters, Elements of Style, My Utmost for His Highest, or The Complete Calvin and Hobbs.  The Hole In Our Holiness will certainly make the annual reading list for thousands who take following Jesus seriously.

Kevin DeYoung makes the case for a holiness deficit in the N. American church with three penetrating questions:

1) In Romans 16.9 Paul writes, “Your obedience is known to all.” DeYoung asks, “Is this even what you want to be known for? (p. 12)

2) Based on Rev 21-22 heaven is a holy place. DeYoung asks, “If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever?…..You would not be happy there if your are not holy here.” (p. 15)

3) Are we Great Commission Christians? “The Great Commission is about holiness. God wants the world to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and obey Jesus.” (p. 16)

What follows is a thoughtful book on our responsibility and the necessity of our cooperation in the pursuit of holiness and the inherent perils in that pursuit. He addresses the importance of understanding the gradation of sin: “When we can no longer see the different gradations among sins and sinners and sinful nations, we have not succeeded in respecting our own badness; we have  cheapened God’s goodness.” (p. 72). When we get complacent in the pursuit of holiness DeYoung warns “…some Christians are stalled out in their sanctification for simple lack of effort. …. And they need to fight, strive, and make every effort to work out all that God is working in them.” (p. 90)

Chapter 7 is an important and profound treatment of the doctrine of our union with Christ. This chapter alone is worth the modest price of this fine book! Here’s just one example of DeYoung’s pointed and powerful writing: “In effect God says to us, ‘Because you believe in Christ, by the Holy Spirit I have joined you to Christ. When he died, you died. When he rose, you rose. He’s in heaven, so you’re in heaven. He’s holy, so you’re holy. Your position right now, objectively and factually, is as a holy, beloved child of God, dead to sin, alive to righteousness, and seated in my holy heaven – now live like it.” (p. 105). That will preach! And it will provide great encouragement to those who struggle to live up to their calling every day.

Toward the end of the book DeYoung clearly identifies the importance of personal holiness: “We think that relevance and relate-ability are the secrets to spiritual  success. And yet, in truth, a dying world needs you to be with God more than it needs you to be “with it.” That’s true for me as a pastor and true for you as a mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent, friend, Bible study leader, computer programmer, bank teller, barista, or CEO. Your friends and family, your colleagues and kids – they don’t need you to do miracles or transform civilization. They need you to be holy.” (p. 145).

It’s a short trip from holiness to legalism and we are often either very eager to make that trip or take just 1 or 2 wrong turns and end up at a destination that is not where we intended to go. What DeYoung writes in The Hole In Our Holiness can be very prescriptive and preventative in keeping us on the road to holiness. Don’t miss the last paragraph. It might be the most powerful paragraph in the entire book!

As a coach and second chair leader I recommend this book to all who want their lives to reflect the reality of their union with Jesus Christ. Personally, I found this short book to be filled with balanced and accurate interpretations of what the Bible teaches on the topic of personal holiness. The thoughtful reader will find plenty of encouragement and challenging motivation from it. And if you don’t have a book that you read annually, I would encourage you to make The Hole In Our Holiness that book.

This. Changes. Everything!

It was a seminal moment for me.

I recently attended a week of CORE coaching training put on by the good people of CRM. In a group of 30 active and aspiring coaches we were pulled, pushed, and stretched into a new way of helping people discover what God is already doing in their lives and how he is already speaking to them. Simply put it was the finest training experience of my life!

For most of us (and certainly for me) whenever we are in a group discussion or review we always want to offer our solutions. After all, our vast experience and superior knowledge on the subject is just what the other person or the group needs at the moment! It was nice of them to ask your opinion because you certainly have one!

Coaching isn’t like that. At the heart and soul of coaching is the art of asking questions that guide people through a process of self-discovery to a solution that they design and choose. The coach doesn’t offer solutions, tell about their own experience, or tell them what they “ought” to do. The goal in coaching is for the coach to speak only 20& of the time! The strength of this process is that people are much more likely to implement a decision that they made themselves than a decision that is forced on them.

Throughout the week we had several practice live coaching sessions with other group members. These were usually limited to 15-20 minute sessions while an actual coaching session is more likely to last anywhere from 45-90 minutes. But I was amazed at how much coaching could be accomplished in such a short period. It was one of those practice sessions that changed everything.

I was in a coaching triad where we did a ’round-robin’ series of three coaching sessions Each member of the triad had a turn as a coach, a coach, and an observer. It was a 20-minute session of epic life transformation! That got my attention. I left that training committed to pursuing coaching as a central component to my ministry and life. I’m already in the process of inviting several people to enter into a coaching relationship that will help them make some important life decisions and achieve some significant goals in life and ministry. I’d be happy to talk with you about how a handful of coaching sessions could be beneficial to you, too!

Why Holiness Matters

First-time author, (and current seminarian) Tyler Braun takes an impassioned stand for a new approach to biblical holiness in “Why Holiness Matters – We’ve Lost Our Way But We Can Get it Back” (Moody, 2012). His main thought is: “Holiness is not new behaviors. It is new affections.” (p. 12)

Written by a millennial creative for millennials, Tyler shares his compelling personal story of his holiness journey. It is a story that most readers – millennials or not – will be able to relate to on many levels. How many of us have chased some degree of personal holiness by pursuing new habits (disciplines) that are supposed to (we hope) give birth to holiness? It only takes a few days to discover that we lack the holiness to maintain those disciplines. After a few false starts we usually just give up trying. Little did we know that giving up was just the place we need to be! What we really need is not more studies, more small groups, more classes, or more sermons – we need hearts that are turned toward Jesus. He is the source of our holiness.

“A relationship with Jesus that begins with anything other than the penetrating love he has for us becomes a duty-filled, contractual relationship. We begin to think of all the blessings we’ll receive when we do what we believe he desires. But a relationship with Jesus that begins with his love and fills our hearts and lives, becomes a relationship of affection. We do what we believe he desires because we love him, not for any prosperity or blessing that might come our way.” (p. 69)

I believe that Tyler has hit a home run (an analogy that he will appreciate) on his first at bat! “Why Holiness Matters” is a book that has all of the potential of becoming a classic – a clearly stated fundamental shift in status quo thinking; numerous quotes – from sentences to full paragraphs – that will be quoted and referred to in other blogs, books, articles, sermons, etc.; a compelling story that connects the reader with the author; and a desire by the reader to re-read the book.

Here is a sampling of the quotes that I think will be used heavily in other works:

“Holiness is not an outcome of perfect living, sin management, rule following, or right doctrine.” (p. 135)

“The holiest of lives would no longer make sense if God did not exist.” (p. 135)

“Holiness begins in us by following Jesus and allowing him to apprehend us through his love, not for the sake of wealth, strength, or power, but for the sake of becoming a reflection (the imago Dei) of who he is.” (p. 158)

I highly recommend reading and re-reading “Why Holiness Matters.”

You can read more about Tyler Braun and Why Holiness Matters on his blog:  manofdepravity.com

 

Why Didn’t You Come Sooner?

“Why Didn’t You Come Sooner?” is a collection of short stories taken from the memoirs of Richard Varberg – a long-time missionary to the Philippians with Converge Worldwide (BGC). Varberg served with distinction as an entrepreneurial missionary in the island nation of the Philippines. He and his wife headed off in 1958 with their infant son and raised a family in challenging circumstances. They left a significant legacy of a growing network of churches and second and third generation missionary family members.

It is difficult to imagine or appreciate the depth of the obstacles and challenges that they faced. Operating in a fair level of isolation it seems that they frequently had to improvise and figure things out for themselves. There certainly were no training manuals to cover the variety of situations they encountered. Drawing from his experience growing up on an Iowa farm, Varberg functioned as a mechanic, architect, and construction foreman. They were skills that served him well.

If there is one point of critique that I would raise it is the frequency in this volume of stories of conflict with Roman Catholic missionaries and priests. At times the stories seem uncomfortably reminiscent of a time when evangelical christians and catholics often found themselves at odds. There is no doubt that there was unecessary conflict and resistance exercised by catholic leaders in the establishment of a community cemetery (pp. 61-83). Even legal action was threatened and carried out against Varberg. While significant theological differences still exist today, followers of Christ can be found in both camps and many evangelicals and catholics often work together in areas where agreement exists. These stories could have been even more powerful in their impact without the distraction of an anti-catholic theme running through many of them.

“Why Didn’t You Come Sooner?” is a historical snapshot of mission work in the Philippines in the 1950’s through 1990’s. It is filled with fascinating stories of God’s grace and faithfulness in difficult – and even life-threatening – circumstances. We should be grateful to the Varberg’s and hundreds of others who served (and are serving) so faithfully to bring the Gospel to communities around the world.

“Why Didn’t You Come Sooner?” is published by the William Carey Library and is available at Amazon.

In A Blink

Last Wednesday I became a statistic.

I was one of about 9,300 people who are injured by fireworks every year in the U.S!

We spent the Fourth of July at a very sedate party hosted by some friends. They’ve been throwing this pot-luck party for years at their lake home. The highlight of the evening is a big display of aerial fireworks. Five or six of their neighbors also launch fireworks around the edge of this shared lagoon. It’s quite amazing and we love going each year.

Toward the end of the display something went wrong. Instead of shooting skyward, a mortar exploded on the platform sending dozens of fragments in every direction. One of those fragments struck me in the left eye. The glasses I  was wearing absorbed some of the brunt but the force broke my frames, shattered my lens, cut my eyebrow, and deposited some tiny particles in my eye.

The firefighters that responded to the 9-1-1 call covered my eyes and wrapped my head in gauze. (I think that look helped me get in to the ER a little more quickly!) While my wife sat with me the dr.’s removed the bandages. I could see! They then conducted a thorough eye exam and removed some of those floating particles that had scratched the surface of my eye including the cornea. That was followed-up by a CAT scan and an uncomfortable flushing of my eye. The prognosis? No permanent damage! I would not become another statistic:  400 people every year lose their vision due to a fireworks related accident.

Five days later the swelling and redness are diminished. The fuzziness in my vision is getting clearer and there is little or no pain. I’m grateful for those who prayed, for those who cared for me, and for the many friends that expressed their concern. I’m grateful that my injury was not more serious and that our eyes were created with the capacity to quickly heal themselves.

It is pretty amazing how quickly things change. One moment I’m sitting there watching spectacular fireworks and then – in a blink – I’m clutching my eye! And now, at a much slower pace, things are returning to normal. And in this case, normal is good!