In this mini-series on coaching, we have reflected on the impact of asking powerful questions and why great leaders have coaches. You can check out the previous blog by Tania Hilton on Great Leaders Ask Great Questions and my Part 1 blog Great Leaders Have a Coach (Part 1) We’ve looked at some examples of coaching from the Bible, and we’ve considered what it means to walk alongside someone as an advocate and helper. Ultimately, good coaching points us to the life-giving and redeeming work of Jesus, both in life and ministry.
In A Christian Coaching Guidebook, Scott Gress writes, “Good coaches will resist telling about or solving problems or manipulating the thinking of the person they are coaching. A good coach through powerful questions will guide the thinking process of the person and enable them to discover new insights or remember forgotten truths. As the proverb says, ‘The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.’ (Proverbs 20:5) This is what coaching does for the person being coached.”
As a pastor, regional pastor, and ministry coach, I have had a front-row seat to witnessing God’s Word and Holy Spirit as His Means of Grace in reviving and encouraging pastors. Coaching helps the one being coached maintain their ownership of the problem, wrestle with options, discover possibilities, and design action steps to bridge gaps in life and leadership.
The need for effective coaching among ministry leaders has never been greater. According to a recent Barna study, 42% of surveyed pastors considered leaving the ministry in the past year. This is up 13 percentage points from 29 percent in January of 2021.
The top 3 reasons pastors considered stepping down are:
the immense stress of the job (56%)
feeling lonely and isolated (43%)
current political divisions (38%)
This is not right and deeply disturbing to all who love God’s mission and messengers. The ULC is dedicated to helping ministry leaders at all levels to receive the practical guidance and support they need. Senior Executives are often at the most significant risk for burnout because of the additional need to coach their own teams while often being tempted to neglect their own care and guidance.
When working with ministry leaders, I typically tailor our coaching sessions around these five themes:
Spiritual formation (God aware)
Emotional and Cultural Intelligence (Neighbor/Other aware)
Marriage and Family (Spouse/Family aware)
Leadership and Management (Team/Leader aware)
Why these five areas? A seven-year study of 73 pastors, funded by the Lilly Endowment (a foundation concerned about the health of the church), identified these five areas which stood out as the foundations that enable pastors to sustain fruitful ministry with resilience. The full results can be examined in detail in Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving by Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman and Donald Guthrie.
The responsibilities of pastoral life are continual. The pace and demands of ministry can be relentless, often pushing even the most dedicated pastors to question their calls and evaluate their lives. It is time for all of us in the church to raise our understanding of ministry demands, review our expectations and make plans for building resilient pastoral excellence. One place for every pastor to begin is to consider the benefits of a coach.
If you desire coaching in some aspect of your life and ministry, reach out to me, and let’s have a conversation! Because of several generous grants to the Full Strength Network, licensed pastors and chaplains may receive 12 private coaching sessions from me for just $149/year (or $14.99/month). To work with me as your coach, just visit www.fullstrength.org, sign up for a membership, and request me (Phil Heiser) as your ministry coach.