According to the ICF, life coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Christian life coaches adhere to this guideline, but they also use biblical principles in guiding their coaching process and empowering their clients to achieve their goals. For the most part, a secular coach will invite his or her clients to search within themselves and to listen to what their hearts are telling them.
The client will be encouraged to focus on his or her intrinsic strengths and what the client believes is the right thing to do. Conversely, a Christian life coach will rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and will encourage clients to do the same. Clients will be encouraged to develop a closer relationship with God and to develop the habit of seeking and following God’s guidance and will.
A Christian life coach approaches coaching from a biblical worldview. He or she, therefore, acknowledges the following important truths:
Everyone is made in God’s image and likeness
God is sovereign
God is omniscient
God loves to guide, empower, encourage, and help his children through life
True fulfillment is only possible when people are living in line with God’s principles and plans
Christian life coaching is based on the understanding that God is the reason behind any success, rather than human ingenuity and providence.
What Is a Christian life coach?
There are a number of people-helping relationships such as discipling, mentoring, consulting, and counseling, but all these are very different from Christian life coaching. The most obvious difference is that Christian life coaching takes an inside-out approach. In other words, coaches endeavor to draw out what God has deposited in their clients. The other people-helping professions take the outside-in approach because they are mainly concerned what is called the “presenting problem”—the surface issue the client feels he or she needs help with—and acquiring the skills and abilities to deal with that issue. Let’s look at each of these “people helping” approaches to make the difference clearer:
A discipler is a mature person in the faith who assists his or her disciples to attain the same level of maturity. A good example of this relationship is a mature Christian coming alongside a new convert to help him or her to understand and grow in his or her newfound faith. Disciplers help their disciples to achieve maturity through modeling, guiding, advising, and teaching.
A counselor has a predefined understanding of what the perfect mental health, grieving, communication, marriage, or whatever niche they specialize in looks like. They use these templates to steer their clients towards this ideal state. They achieve this by advising, teaching, and guiding.
The role of a mentor is to infuse his or her expertise and skills into the life of the person he or she is mentoring. This is typically achieved through modeling, guiding, teaching, or advising. A mentor must be an expert in the field in which they are mentoring, an expertise honed through experience, study, school degrees, and more.
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A consultant is hired to bring his or her know-how into a particular situation. Consultants help to bridge the gap between where the client or company is at and where they need to be by providing what is missing. This is done through modeling, advising, teaching, and guiding.
Is Christian Coaching Necessary if You Attend a Church?
Secular coaching has no absolutes such as absolute truth. There are few rules and God is rarely included in the process. However, Christians do their best to involve God in everything they do. King Solomon reminded us that,
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6, TLB
One of the challenges of living in a secular society is that we can easily start thinking and working as per the dictates of society. However, as 1 John 2 tells us, Christians must be in the world but not of it. That means we think differently, act differently, and our life’s focus comes from a biblical and eternal perspective. A Christian life coach helps his or her clients to refocus and repurpose their efforts to align with biblical teaching and what the client feels is God’s direction for his or her life.
A Christian life coach will challenge any negative beliefs that might be holding clients back from their purpose. The coach helps clients see themselves as God does, which will go a long way towards addressing any limiting beliefs and mental blocks that hold the client back.
Most, if not all, of the decisions people make on a day-to-day basis are rooted in internal thought patterns. And your thoughts are directly related to what you believe to be true about the situation, good or bad, that you are in. Here is a universal principle: internal beliefs are formed from past experiences; beliefs determine thoughts, thoughts determine feelings, and feelings determine actions and reactions.
When internal beliefs are based on distortions from the past, the decision-making process is hindered. A Christian life coach helps his or her clients by challenging what the client believes to be true, which can bring a new perspective, resulting in new choices. The coach will encourage his or her clients to see their beliefs and thought patterns in the light of Scripture. For example, the apostle Paul was reminding the Church through his epistle to the Philippians,
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8, NIV
Obviously, it is imperative for all Christians to attend church (Hebrews 10:25) and belong to a church family. But church attendance does not mean there is no need for life coaching. A local church can provide mentorship, discipleship, and a community of believers to engage with. Depending on the church, Bible-based counseling might also be available. But as already noted, these are not the same as life coaching. Life coaching provides unique insights, challenges, encouragement, empowerment, and much more to help individuals create plans to achieve personals and/or professional goals.
Spiritual Life Coach Vs. Christian Life Coach
Contrary to common belief, a spiritual life coach and a Christian life coach are not synonymous. The term “spiritual life coach” refers to the broader, abstract sense of the spiritual world and involves working with a client who has some kind of spiritual beliefs. A spiritual life coach works with their clients to help him or her live by their spiritual principles. This means that spiritual life coaches can work with clients from across the religious divide, e.g., Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans, Scientologists, and more.
On the flip side, the Christian life coach seeks to work with Christians. A Christian is one who believes in the God of the Bible and has accepted his son, Jesus Christ, as his or her Lord and Savior. Christians believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can access God except through Him (John 14:6). Therefore, a Christian would seek out a Christian life coach and not just a spiritual life coach.
Some Christian professionals opt to work with secular life coaches because they are afraid that Christian life coaches might not be well equipped to help them in their trade. This misconception is based on the misunderstanding of who and what a Christian life coach really is, and what life coaching is and is not. Christian life coaches are not the same as pastors. In fact, a theological degree is not a requirement to be a Christian life coach. Certified Christian life coaches are trained just as well as any other coaches, and most have completed training that incorporates a biblical worldview.
Indeed, many Christian life coaches are certified with the ICF (International Coach Federation). As ICF certified coaches, these individuals adhere to the ICF guidelines, ensuring the core competencies of life coaching are used during their sessions. Christian life coaches can help their clients in the same fields as secular coaches. The added advantage is that Christian life coaches coach from a Christian worldview and a biblical perspective.