the power of choice

You have a choice right now. Will you continue reading this post or move on? Will you scratch your chin because it itches or ignore it? Will you act on your dreams or treat them like the itch you likely just ignored? What is your choice?

If something in you stirred concerning acting on your dreams, then this post is for you.

What is blocking you from taking action? What fears? What obstacles? What choices you have previously made?

Are you ready to make a change? If yes, then coaching may be for you. If no, then you may benefit from a compassionate listener such as a pastor, counselor, or friend.

If you are interested in coaching, check out my coaching page for information about my services and how to obtain them.

We all may benefit from coaching from time to time, whether in business, ministry, or our personal lives. I share this post because you own the power to choose. You can change those things in your life, work and ministry which are within your power to influence. Will you make that choice? Or will you choose to maintain the status quo, doing what you and others have come to expect as normal?

Want my recommendation? Toss mediocrity to the garbage heap and agitate the status quo for the sake of a preferred future. Your preferred future. By God’s grace and with his wisdom and power you can make that choice.

It’ll be scary. The big dreams always are. But if it’s God’s dream for you, then he will empower, supply, and encourage you along the way to its fulfillment for God’s glory.

Interested? Use the contact page to look me up. Let’s talk.

listening for the path ahead

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Photo Credit: Glen Alan Woods

Where do you want to go? In life? In ministry? In work? What will it take to move you forward on the next leg of your journey? To borrow a metaphor from the image in this post, will it require more railroad tracks, or a different mode of transportation altogether?

These are questions I am wrestling with right now in my own life. The familiar is becoming a distant memory; the uncharted, a new reality. It is as revealing as a fresh layer of coarse gravel to obscure hints of the way forward.

But forward I must continue on this journey into obscurity. The telltale signs of how to proceed can no longer be observed from a safe distance. Intimacy with the Lord God is required, as it always has been, but in more urgent ways now. I’m more aware of my tendency to stray, my willingness to settle for less than God’s best. I’m compelled to run to him, to cry out all the more desperately for his wisdom, his guidance, his strength to persevere in a callous world.

I hear him gently reminding me to think of myself far less, and others far more, especially those with no one to advocate for them,

I hear him reminding me that he has always been present and available, even when I often have not.

I hear him whispering through the deep places of my heart, noticing the layers of jaded veneer and callousness, and testing for sensitivity to his Holy Spirit.

And I dare not speak. Or ask. Or even cry out. Not yet. There will come a time for that. For now, I listen.

What about you? How might you discern the way forward for your life?

Coaching: An Opportunity for My Blog Subscribers

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Update: this offer has expired.

Day two of Introduction to Coaching is completed. I now have learned the basic skills needed to wade into slightly deeper coaching waters. Deep listening, powerful questions, helpful models of coaching are all a part of my entry level skill set. The journey has barely begun. Yet, I feel like I’ve come a long way since this adventure commenced yesterday morning. This is a credit to my professor, Chad Hall, MCC, and all the other coaching students.

So, what now? I need to begin practicing these fundamental skills so that I may gain greater competence and confidence with them.

This leads me to an important question for you, my blog subscribers. Because of your encouragement over the years, I am making this opportunity available to you first. What area of your life would you have an interest in exploring in a free, limited duration, safe and confidential coaching relationship?

Sound intriguing?

I am offering two people three free 1/2 hour sessions each of coaching on a topic(s) of your choice. The conversations will occur via phone. I will coach from a Christian worldview, but you are not required to be a Christian to qualify. However, you do need to be at least 21 years old. I reserve the right to decline an opportunity if it seems clear to me that we would not be a good fit.

My role will be to coach you, not counsel, consult, mentor, or provide spiritual direction. The material you discuss and decisions you make are solely owned by you. In addition to discussing your stuff, you will give me honest feedback on my coaching performance.

Still interested?

Make sure you are subscribed to this blog via the email subscription form in the upper left-hand corner of the page. And then contact me via email at glenawoods @ gmail.com (lose the spaces). Please include your full name, age, location, and state your interest in being coached.

I will reply via email if you meet the qualifications and there is an opening.

This is a limited time opportunity.

I hope to converse with a couple of you soon!

Coaching: The Journey Begins

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I just completed my first day of coach training at Western Seminary. Great group of students and terrific professor who is a seasoned coach to business executives and pastors. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. By the conclusion of the final session of Introduction to Coaching tomorrow, I will be equipped to engage in basic coaching skills. My intent is to find at least two people with whom I can practice those skills in the coming weeks.

The two foundational skills of coaching are listening intently and asking powerful, relevant questions. I have long been a strong listener and I’m pretty good at following up with meaningful questions. The hard part is guiding a coaching conversation in such a way that serves the client well so that progress toward actionable steps are made. This means taking me out of the equation. In the coaching relationship, it’s not about what I need, or what might satisfy my curiosity, or worse, what might make me look impressive to the client. Rather, it is all about the client’s journey toward his or her goals. The client sets the agenda, owns the content of the conversation, and is responsible to bring her decisions to fruition through actions to which she commits. My job as a coach is simply to provide a safe place for her to identify her goals, address the challenges, choose realistic action plans, and then commit to them.

In other words, in this context I’m learning to be a coach; not a counselor, or a mentor, or a consultant, or a spiritual director. All of those other roles are important and have their appropriate place, to be sure. But for now I’m exploring what it means to be a coach, and most importantly, I’m beginning to put in to practice my fledgling coaching skills.

Will you pray for me as I engage this process?

The Need for Parent Coaching

Last year I began a new initiative in my church which developed into a form of parent coaching. It is very loosely based on Karl Bastian’s VIP strategy, which can be found in the Leadership Lab 4, Partnering with Parents. This post suggests one possible scenario which can lead a family toward participating in parent coaching. Although it is fictitious and the names are not meant to represent any real person, I believe it is a plausible situation.   Continue reading

Is Coaching the Same as Discipleship?

Late last year Karl Bastian, founder of Kidology.org, posted a series of questions about the differences and similarities between discipleship and spiritual life coaching. I think his post is helpful at cutting to the heart of the issue, especially when there continues to be so much apparent confusion about what coaching is and is not. You can read his article entitled Coaching vs Discipling over at Discipleblog.com. Four people, including me, replied to his post. 

I personally am involved with a form of coaching in my own church which involves parents. You can check out the blog specifically designed to resource them here. In the meantime, I invite you to read my original response to Karl’s post below.

Coaching in the style credentialed by the International Coach Federation is founded on the principle of asking good questions and listening actively. It is a framework in which the coachees are guided to their own conclusions based on their unique skills, backgrounds and aspirations. The agenda, in the Christian coaching matrix, is what is God doing in the life of the coachee, rather than what content and goals does the coach have for the coachee.

Stated differently, coaching helps coachees resolve hurdles to their goals by clarifying their objectives, identifying resources at their disposal, and opportunities they wish to explore, and setting goals to achieve the larger aim. The coach need not have expertise in the discipline of the coachee. She simply needs to know how to guide the coachee through good questions and holding the coachee accountable to commitments.

So no, coaching is not discipleship in the strictest sense.

However, discipleship can incorporate some of the principles and tools of coaching. Jesus was a master of asking good questions and challenging people to think at a far deeper level. Look at his interactions with the disciples, the crowds, the pharisees and other religious leaders throughout the gospels. Often he asked penetrating questions which cut to the heart of the matter. Was this coaching or discipleship, or something else altogether?

There are forms of coaching being deployed in the marketplace which explore spirituality. However, I would not equate them with Christian discipleship.

I do think, however, that discipleship can benefit from the attitude of respect and active listening which is promoted by the professional coaching world. Far too much of discipleship tends to have a negative slant toward the disciple. Jesus reminds us by his own example what a difference it makes when we actually do life with those we disciple. Loving them. Inviting them into our daily routines. Being real. Expecting the best from them. Most importantly, having a relationship with them, just as we should have a trust relationship with Jesus. And isn’t that the point of discipleship, anyway?

 

three necessary attitudes for parent coaching

During the last ten weeks I have been thinking deeply about my relationship with parents in my church. The Fall edition of the VIP initiative which I inaugurated ten weeks ago has concluded this weekend. Six families faithfully interacted with me based on what God is leading them to do. What a privilege to converse with them regarding their daily realities and goals.

Thus far, I have eight families lined up to participate in the Winter session of VIP, four of whom are new to the conversation. I expect to have from fifteen to twenty families signed up when January 10 arrives.

So, I ponder our relationship, asking myself how I can best posture myself to serve their needs. Here are some preliminary thoughts about the attitude I desire to convey in my interactions with them.

  • Humility. I am humbled by the privilege they have extended to me to be a small part of their lives. I take it seriously. It brings to mind Paul’s admonition to the Philippians, that our “attitude should be the same as the Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Previous to that he writes
  • If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (Phil. 2:1-4).

  • Love. I love the families I am privileged to help pastor. A fierce love. A sincere love. I am reminded of One Corinthians 13, where the Apostle Paul describes the virtues of love. He writes
  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

  • Encouragement. I desire to encourage families in such a way that the hearts of parents  and children are turned to God and each other in Christ so that they may grow in Christian maturity and love for one another. My attitude is informed by two corresponding passages of Scripture referring to John the Baptizer, the forerunner of the Messiah, the Prophet who would come in the power and spirit of Elijah and turn the hearts of fathers to their children (Hebrew for father Malachi 4:6 אָב; Greek for father Luke 1:17 Πατρος). I find it compelling that the one who prepared the way for Jesus did so in a way that drew the hearts of families both to the Messiah and to each other. Indeed, the text in both passages uses the word for fathers rather than parents. However, I attribute this to a number of factors, not least the patristic culture in which he lived, the fact that fathers are intended by God to be the spiritual leaders of the home, and the unfortunate fact that such a high percentage of fathers choose not to obey God’s call to  take on that role through their attitudes and behavior, leaving the responsibility to the mothers. Yet, I am seeing fathers begin to own their responsibility and that is an encouraging thing, both for our culture and their families.

I pray that churches everywhere will find ways to gain traction in helping families focus on life with Jesus Christ daily, even hourly, in their homes. Parent coaching is one way to begin the conversation so as to encourage parents in this direction, applauding their positive steps, and nurturing them despite their setbacks.