I was halfway to work before I realized it. It was Saturday, for goodness sake. I had set out to enjoy my weekend when all of a sudden it dawned on me. I was on the wrong interstate. I was 20 minutes into my daily commute and 20 minutes in the opposite direction of where I actually anticipated going!
Has that ever happened to you? Did you get distracted, end up operating in “auto-pilot” mode and lose sight of where you intended to go?
Looking back now, I wish I had a passenger along for the ride that day. Surely they would have chimed in with a casual “Uh, exactly where ARE we headed?” or “This doesn’t look like where you said we were going?” before I had gotten so far off course.
As Christian coaches, we have a unique opportunity to be in the passenger seat of our client’s life journey. We are equipped to assist them in determining their God-ordained destination and navigating the path forward.
Most people come to coaching seeking change. Some want to establish healthy habits or improve productivity. Some desire to deepen relationships, discover their God-given purpose and more. Essentially, they want to be somewhere different from their current location and they’ve hired us as a trusted confidant in the process.
That process begins with establishing a strong vision. In Becoming a Professional Life Coach, authors Williams & Menendez state, “Vision refers to a specific, compelling image of the future that an individual holds.” How can we, as Christian coaches, best facilitate an effective visioning process for our clients?
Not all clients have a clear idea of where they want to go when they begin coaching. Some enter the relationship with a rock-solid vision in mind. Yet others arrive with an unsettled spirit that indicates a need for change, something more, something they can’t quite articulate yet.
Through active listening and powerful questioning, we enable clients build a compelling image of what can be possible in their life. When they are able to identify the profound longings of their heart as the Holy Spirit is leading them, vision springs forth.
In Christian Coaching, author Gary Collins writes, “As a personal inner force, passion drives us forward. However, most people also need a mental picture of where they are going. They need a vision of what can be possible. Vision pulls us forward. Once that vision clearly is in mind, we can deal with the practical strategy steps of getting where we want to go.”
For the Christian client, the process of establishing vision should involve prayer and ample time for the Lord to reveal His leading. It is not a process to be rushed or hurried along. As a Christian coach and a trusted passenger on their journey, we must seek the Holy Spirit’s leading as well.
Is their vision too safe? Are they being led by the familiar and comfortable? If so, they may be tempted to limit themselves to the scope of their experiences, believing they are only capable of what they have already succeeded and failed at in the past.
Our direct communication enables clients to push beyond the familiar and confront limiting mindsets that have the potential to sabotage their growth. When we encourage them to reach beyond the familiar and safe, opportunities to deepen their faith abound.
Is their vision attainable? Is it based on the reality of their current life stage and responsibilities? If we encourage our clients in setting a vision that is unattainable, we help pave the way to failure and frustration.
We must ask awareness-invoking questions that will enable our clients to discover for themselves what is manageable and realistic for their particular season of life. There is a delicate balance to be found in the process of challenging our clients and it’s only with spiritual insight that we know where to press in deeper.
For me personally, this is the most energizing aspect of the visioning process. At the core of managing progress and accountability is the skill of holding tightly to our client’s vision. In the course of coaching, motivation will wane and circumstances inevitably become less-than-ideal.
The coaching relationship enables us step in and remind them of their intended destination. Revisiting their vision gives them the opportunity to rekindle their motivation and continue moving forward. The change process is not easy, but the rewards are vast. It is in the pain of leaving the familiar that we discover what God has purposed for us and how we can be continually transformed into His likeness.
What part of the visioning process do you enjoy most as a Christian life coach? Which part challenges you?