Tag Archives: personal growth

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 spiritual growth of others. 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

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 and let’s explore what that could look like for you!

 

 

Closing the Gap

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  • You’re facing a major decision you’ve wrestled with for weeks – maybe even months – and you’re still uncertain which way to go. 
  • You’ve been attempting to achieve a particular goal but no matter what you do you’re no closer to attaining that goal than when you started.
  • You seem to be stuck in a Ground-Hog-Day loop repeating the same mistakes day after day after day.

The distance between where you are and where you want to be is “the gap.” This gap looks different for different people. Some are fairly small and take just a little more effort to cross. Other gaps are huge and will take some pretty intense work to successfully navigate. Either way you’re going to need some help closing the gap.

Regardless of size, coaching is the best way to close the gap. With a coach you will set a course and begin to take specific steps toward your goal. With each coaching conversation you will begin to see real, measurable progress as the gap begins to shrink. Each step of the way you are the one identifying the best “next step” along your journey. Your coach will guide you with questions to bring clarity, effectiveness, and momentum to your steps but you decide which steps to take and whether you will walk, run, or leap forward! You will experience a new sense of accomplishment once you close the gap and step back to celebrate your much-earned success.

What’s the gap in your life?

Message me for a complimentary coaching conversation and begin taking steps to close the gap today.

Subway’s “Life Coach” Fail

subway life coachHave you seen Subway’s latest commercial? The one that features a guy in a football helmet who says he has a life coach? Whenever he starts to eat, drink, or do something that threatens his success at achieving his weight loss goals the life coach barks orders to him (through a conveniently located headset in his helmet) to keep him on the right path. There is a little humor here but it is a total failure at identifying what a life coach actually does! It’s a great example of one who leads by telling – which is the exact opposite of what a good coach does.

A good coach helps you identify the goals, behaviors, and results that are important to you and your personal, relational, and professional growth and development. A good coach helps you discover the best path forward for you and what the next few steps look like. Through that process you will explore potential obstacles, resources, and motivations to ensure your success. Take note of those italicized words: identify, discover, explore. They are words that describe forward progress on the journey you are taking. And take notice of who is taking the journey – it’s you! Your coach doesn’t tell you which path to take or how to take the next step. That’s your call. In the end you will find that you get to your personal destination both faster and better with the solutions, methods, and steps that you design.

Sorry Subway, but you got this one wrong.

If you would like to know more about how you could benefit from good coaching I invite you to explore my blog – epic coaching – or just reply to this post. I offer a limited number of complimentary, no-obligation coaching sessions each month where you can see if coaching is right for you. Contact me here and let’s start the conversation!

 

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.

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!

Coaching In Ministry

coaching in ministryThere is no question that the ministry landscape is undergoing significant change. If you went to seminary more than 10 years ago the nuts-and-bolts ministry training you received is becoming less relevant and less effective with each passing year. People’s engagement with the local church in terms of  attendance, serving, and giving no longer resembles the “twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday,” tithing-multiple-committee-member model from just a decade or two ago. Churches seem to be universally challenged with how to guide people toward greater ministry engagement. For many of those churches they need look no further than how they equip and empower their volunteers and ministry leaders toward meaningful ministry. In Coaching In Ministry, coaching pioneer Keith Webb charts a course that will help ministry leaders navigate this changing landscape.

I have received significant training and encouragement through Keith’s training programs and his previous work – The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. He has quickly become my primary resource for all things coach related. His latest book continues to teach, challenge, and clarify my understanding and use of coaching in ministry. I highly recommend Coaching in Ministry to anyone involved in ministry leadership. (Full Disclosure: Keith Webb provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Keith begins this short book with a concise working definition of coaching:

“an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” (p. 21)

He further explains:

“Coaching focuses on people’s learning rather than us teaching. Coachees (those who are coached) are in the driver’s seat. They choose their own goals, reflect deeply on their current situation, think through their options, and decide their next steps. All the while, the coach actively listens and asks reflective questions, supportively challenging limited beliefs and behaviors.” (pp 21-22)

Later Keith describes coaching as,

“a non-directive conversation in which the coach asks a person questions to prompt reflection into what God is saying to that person. The coaching process empowers that person to develop custom solutions for his or her problems or goals.” (p. 37)

One of the primary strengths of Coaching In Ministry is that it can serve as an introduction and call-to-action for the importance of coaching in ministry. I will order several copies to share with my staff colleagues and board members. I will also use this book when inviting ministry leaders to consider my coaching services. If you are unfamiliar with coaching (or think you already know what coaching is) reading Coaching in Ministry will bring further clarity to the immense value of coaching.

Unfortunately, many leaders still operate under the disingenuous definition of management as ‘the art of getting people to do what you want them to do while thinking it was their idea!’ Many of those same leaders think that coaching is ‘asking questions until you get the coachee to give you the answer you want!’ The lack of authenticity in both of these approaches destroys any potential for long-lasting growth and effective leadership development.

It is so much more fulfilling to hear a coachee formulate a solution to a challenge they are facing that they thought of themselves rather than reluctantly agreeing to try the solution you gave them! Coaching has enabled me to equip more people for effective ministry than any training program, class, or leadership development program I have ever used. Keith clearly and concisely establishes a solid foundation for biblical coaching that honors God, equips and empowers the coachee, and strengthens the church.

Finally, Coaching In Ministry will introduce you to: The Question That Moves People to Action. Keith claims this one question will,

“help get people into action that is non-threatening and open enough to work in just about any situation.” (p.78)

But you will have to read the book yourself to find out what that question is. I think it’s well worth the modest price of the book!

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!