In Philippians 2:5, the Apostle Paul tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” This is the main goal in Christian spiritual life coaching: to know the mind of Christ for the client in a particular area of his or her life. Coaches partner with their clients to help them live by biblically-based principles. In the process, clients will become better versions of themselves.
On a foundation level, spiritual life coaching is based on the fact that everything in the client’s life will be affected by the spiritual growth of the client. Thus, spiritual coaches encourage their clients to remain God-focused and to understand what He is doing or teaching them. Here are five practices that spiritual life coaches bring to their coaching sessions:
The Role of Active Listening
Even though active listening is practiced by all coaches, it is important to discuss because active listening is what turns a normal conversation into a God-focused coaching session. Life coaches use active-listening techniques to help their clients uncover hindrances to personal and professional growth and development. As the coach and client converse, the life coach listens for clues as to which direction the conversation is taking. Active listening is composed of the following:
Paying attention – A good life coach makes sure the coaching session is free from personal distractions. The purpose of coaching is not to provide half-baked solutions but to listen intuitively to the issues being raised by the client. A good coach will not cut off the client mid-sentence but will allow them to finish a train of thought before offering insights or asking a question.
Asking open-ended questions – Once the client finishes what they are saying, coaches most often ask an open-ended question. This type of question allows clients to respond in a manner that is appropriate and comfortable for them.
Requesting clarification – If there are any issues that are not clear, a coach does not guess but seeks clarification. The same is true for any ambiguous information that has been communicated.
Showing empathy – As the coach listens attentively to the client, the coach wants to be sure to identify not only the message but the tone of the message that is being communicated. Showing empathy helps the coach connect with the client on a deeper emotional and spiritual level, which results in a more effective coaching session.
Paraphrasing – Coaches will periodically paraphrase key points raised by the client. In this way, both parties can be confident that the coach is paying attention, hearing what is being said, and keeping track of the conversation.
As important as active listening is to the coaching process, it is not unique to spiritual life coaching. On the contrary, it is actually a prerequisite for all types of life coaching. The following are important tenets of spiritual life coaching that make it completely different from other forms of life coaching:
Christians have an eternal perspective and that shapes their decisions, choices, and work ethic. Here are four of the guidelines that Christians aspire to live out in their daily lives:
Christ’s representatives – The Bible calls Christians “Christ’s ambassadors.” This is to say that God has put all Christians on earth to represent his kingdom as his chosen and special envoys. Christians, therefore, are not trying to fit in but to stand out by living according to the principles of God’s kingdom.
God is the great reward – Christians are intrinsically motivated to do their best in whatever assignment they are given because they are not looking for man’s approval, but are focused on pleasing God. God promises in his Word to reward all Christians here on earth as well as in heaven.
Working as unto the Lord – Christians are reminded that they should not work for their earthly employers only, but they are to do all things with the mindset that they are working for God. A Christian’s focus should be on the things that glorify God and promote his kingdom rather than the things on earth, which are temporal.
Pursue God’s will – Christians are here on earth to accomplish their unique purpose according to God’s plans. They are to seek and pursue his will in their lives and, as Paul admonishes, must avoid conforming to the standards of the world, but seek to be transformed through the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2).
Developing an eternal perceptive has the capacity to change a Christian’s entire worldview. For instance, instead of complaining about the hard time they are going through, they can appreciate it as a learning experience, knowing that God is a faithful judge, and he is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Unlimited Human Potential
In the book of Daniel, chapter 2, the prophet saw a small stone that had been hewn out of a larger one, but the small stone crushed a big statue. This is a great illustration of what it means to be a child of God. You might appear to be a small stone, but as long as you are “cut from” God, you have what it takes to achieve whatever God calls you to do.
In Romans 3:20, Paul reminds the church that God is able to do far more than they could ever think or ask because they have his power within them. Paul gave the same message to the church at Philippi, assuring them that they could do anything through Christ who gave them strength, a message that is as relevant for believers today as it was then.
Spiritual life coaches understand that God has endowed mankind with unlimited potential, and it is this potential that the coaching process seeks to tap into.
Unlimited potential exists because we are made in God’s own image. This realization is important because it underscores for us that true and personal effectiveness can only come through a continual submission and reliance upon God. It helps the coach and the client to avoid the temptation of thinking they are effective because they are trusting the process.
The process if good, but real change comes by cooperating with God’s plans, the same God who formed us in our mother’s wombs and numbered all our days before we were born. Self-actualization is okay, but it can only take us so far. Only a higher power than ourselves—God’s power—can help us tap into our full potential.
Our personal value system affects everything we say and do. As Christians, we derive our value system from the Bible. Living by biblical principles influences every part of our lives. Values are usually formed through experience such as our upbringing. However, every Christian must subject his or her value system to the Word of God in order to unlearn any bad values they might have adopted.
A spiritual life coach will keep Christian values at the center stage of the coaching experience. They will not advocate for anything that contradicts biblical values, and they will help their clients to reaffirm their commitment to God’s recommended way of living. This is what Paul was saying to the Romans when he admonished them not to conform to the standards of the world but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds.
The Value of the Client
One of the main advantages of spiritual life coaching is the respect Christian coaches have for the temporal (earthly) and eternal lives of their clients. It is not uncommon to find a secular coach who trusts and believes in the system and process of coaching more than in the client. However, spiritual life coaches are trained to value their clients more than the process.
Jesus always clashed with people who valued a process more than people. For instance, the religious leaders of his day were so rigid in keeping the Torah that they held more tightly the “traditions of the elders” than the Word of God. This was demonstrated by their confrontation of Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. The leaders viewed healing as a “work” and accused Jesus of breaking the Law of Moses by healing the sick on the Sabbath. Jesus responded by saying, “Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Jesus always placed people above process, and spiritual life coaches should do the same.
In all life coaching sessions, spiritual life coaches maintain a God-centered focus for themselves and their clients. All conversations, relationships, and goals are filtered through a biblical perspective and helps clients to live out the lives they feel best please God. By following the above practices, a spiritual life coach will help their client reap rewards not only in this life, but also in the next.
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