“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Matthew 16:26 NLT
How is it with your soul? This was the first question early bands of Wesleyan Christians asked when they gathered in small group meetings. Perhaps we, as Christian coaches, should be asking ourselves this question too.
Of course, this raises a second question as well, what makes a soul healthy? According to Mindy Caliguire, the founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase “soul health” in the body of Christ, “A soul is healthy to the extent that it experiences a strong connection to and receptivity to God.” Jesus said it this way in John 15:5 (TNIV) “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”
Sometimes the demands of launching and running a successful coaching business can be all consuming. Meeting with clients, systematizing our business, and caring for our families and ourselves can take up the bulk of our time and energy, leaving previous little left to invest in cultivating intimacy with God and tending to our interior life.
As both a certified coach and spiritual director, I’ve found several core spiritual disciplines foundational in maintaining intimacy with God and caring for the health of my soul. Many of these spiritual disciplines will be familiar to you, while others may be new. Consider adding one of these disciplines to your practice of soul care.
Spiritual Disciplines to Lead from a Healthy Soul
While there are many ways we can experience God through His Word — Bible study, the devotional reading of Scripture or lectio divina, meditation, praying Scripture — what matters most is that we show up, expecting to encounter God through both the written Word and the Living Word, Jesus Christ.
The Daily Examen
Where has God been at work in your life? The examen, a form of prayerful reflection on the day’s events to discern God’s activity in your life and his direction, can help you answer that question. It is often practiced daily, either once or twice—either in the evening or both at noon and in the evening. This kind of prayerful reflection has long been a part of the decision-making process for my business.
As professional coaches, we spend a great deal of time building our businesses and meeting with clients. In most cases, our homes are our offices and the family dog and family members are our “colleagues.” Some of us may even struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Because we work alone, spiritual friendships are important not only for our spiritual health but our emotional health as well.
Although it’s important to spend time in community, it’s equally important to spend time in solitude and silence. So much of our Christian faith is about words—teaching, preaching, praying—that we can sometimes overlook the need to “come away” to be with God. Jesus regularly withdrew from the crowds to spend time with the Father. I regularly practice silence and solitude by going on long hikes in the woods or sitting by a pond or lake reflecting on the goodness of God.
Many prominent Christians who have changed the world for Christ, including missionaries Amy Carmichael and David Livingstone as well as influential authors, such as C.S. Lewis, have put pen to paper, recording their spiritual insights, thoughts, reflections, and prayers. Journaling can quiet our hearts and minds, bringing clarity where confusion once reigned and insight obscured by the busyness of life. It’s a tool that helps us to not only know God but to know ourselves as well.
I have found the practice of praying God’s Word a powerful discipline that allows me to pray with certainty, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done.” Of course, as Christian coaches, most of us pray for and with our clients. Because most of my coaching clients are Christians, I ask their permission to start each session with prayer. In addition, I sometimes pray briefly with clients during our session or towards the end of our session.
In our 24-7 wired world, I find it helpful to fast from technology, even if it is only a few hours a week. For me, this generally occurs every Saturday. I intentionally leave my cell phone out of reach while I go about my day, focusing instead on the things that feed my soul. Although I may respond to one or two emails later that evening, I spend the day focused on friends and family.
This one may surprise you and, granted, it’s not a good choice for every coach. However, it works well for me. Because I live with multiple chronic, autoimmune diseases, I find an extended vacation helpful. For almost five years now, I have taken off the entire month of August…and with my clients’ full support, I might add. I come back to my desk in September refreshed and restored, full of creative ideas for my business. After doing this for five years now, I’ve never lost a single client.
Which of these spiritual disciplines is new to you? How might you incorporate it into your existing spiritual practices as a form of soul care?