Confessions of a Coach

I thought I knew all about coaching, but I had some misunderstandings.

Over the past few years, I have been a coach of small group leaders. Recently, I was hired as the point leader for small groups at a new church focused on reaching GenX. When I accepted this position, I thought I had coaching all figured out. No problem! All I had to do was tell my leaders everything I knew about small groups. Boy, was I wrong! Here are some misunderstandings that I have recognized over the past few months that has helped me transform my own small group leader coaching ministry.

  • The first misunderstanding I had about coaching was that coaching is primarily about leadership skill development. I thought all I needed to do was pass along all I knew about leading a small group, like how to facilitate a discussion, or how to have prayer time or how to birth a new group. Although leadership skill development is an important part of coaching, it's not the only thing. What I learned was coaching is also about personal development. As a coach, I can't just worry about a person's leadership skills. I need to also make sure the leader's personal and spiritual lives are being developed at the same time as their leadership skills are being developed. As I was focusing on their skill development, I was neglecting their spiritual and personal development and leaders were starting to feel used and devalued. I have found that having a plan to develop all areas of the leader's life helped me make sure one area wasn't over-emphasized.

  • The second misunderstanding I had about coaching was that coaching would not take much time. I used to think 15 minutes every so often with a leader would be enough time. I would get an update on what material they were going through, how their apprentice leader was doing, and if they needed me to help in anyway. The truth is that coaching takes a lot of time. Time is a valued and often scarce commodity in today's society. When I spend time with a leader, they know that they are important and what they are doing is important. When I sit down with a leader and listen (instead of me doing all the talking) to what's going on in their lives and in their groups, I'm making deposits into their emotional bank accounts. I'm filling them up so they have something to give to their group members. I've learned it's best to schedule these times weeks and months in advance so they don't get crowded out by other activities.

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