Good Monday Morning,
Whether you are working with a student or faculty member face to face or over a distance, coaching them well is critical to their seeing success in ministry. Brent Wong, National Field Ministry with the Epic Movement, recently sent me his plan for coaching Epic leaders. His plan included topics and principles in coaching ministries long distance, a sample school year for long term planning and baseline leadership criteria. I am passing on to you what he put into an article on coaching tips.
1. Important Principles
- Communicate confidence in them and trust in the Lord. Most leaders deal with insecurity, so give them permission to fail, grace, and encouragement. Normalize failure and build a safe atmosphere where they don’t hide.
- Relationships are built on trust. Spend time building trust and a solid relationship. Incorporate prayer before, during and after your appointments.
- Communicate that you care more about them than what they produce.
2. Practical Tips
- Consider utilizing a system for filing and retrieving info. Take notes or make a file for each leader/campus you coach that can be reviewed before each appointment.
- Asking, “what are your biggest challenges?” can open doors to great conversations and insight. Listen carefully to the response. Someone might say, “It was a little challenging at times, but God did so much in my life and He is so awesome”, but go deeper – ask what it was in particular that made it challenging.
- You can get a lot done out of people’s dysfunctions. Don’t empower their weaknesses even though they might get praised elsewhere. (Examples: being over-committed, not able to say no, etc.)
- Asking questions is an important way to help them gain awareness of what is going on instead of always giving advice.
3. KEY Questions
- Personal Life. What do you do for fun? Do you have fun? From 0-10, how full is your tank? (Spiritually, physically, relationally) How much sleep do you get? Do you have accountability? Friends with whom you can process and receive encouragement? What three things could you implement to improve your spiritual life? Do you need a spiritual retreat? Do you have a spending plan? Are you accumulating debt? Do you have 6 months of emergency savings?
- Team Life. How is your team’s time spent? Do you feel good about it? How are the relationships on your team? Are there any undercurrents or unresolved conflicts? Are there regular venues for people to share, talk, confront? How do men and women relate on the team?
- Ministry Life. Do you have a strategic plan (or the equivalent)? (Ask them to share it with you.) What are your top three goals this quarter/semester and year? How can I help you with these? Are there any areas you feel stuck in? Are there any new resources or skills you need? Have there been any sources of frustration in your role? How often and with whom do you evaluate the ministry?
4. Things to Watch For
- Burnout. We want their pace to be sustainable and for them to feel joy in serving. Burnout really hurts retention and recruiting.
- Gender issues. Is there equal representation? Do both genders have a voice? Are they both raising up leaders?
- Character issues. Performance, perfection, failure, being overly driven, avoidance, pride, resentment, lying or telling half-truths.
- Boundaries. Do they ever say no? Are they able to delegate or do they take on everything themselves?
- How has this person performed in regard to agreed upon goals? Have you established norms with them?
- Are they updating their stats on a weekly basis?
- Is this person happy in our organization? Feeling fulfilled?
- Would additional training for the person enhance performance?
- Have they been challenged to lead with clear expectations of what they are committing to?
Chris West, 15 year MTL at Dartmouth College and now a coach of our Student LINC team, recently shared with the team some guiding principles he has picked up about coaching from a distance. Instead of staff doing the ministry, we use our expertise to equip leaders. He liked the Home Depot motto, “You can do it. We can help.” We get to come alongside where God is working wherever that is.