Category Archives: Coaching

Two Simple Leadership Development Constructs.

Last week I talked about how different personalities have different learning styles. Do we take into account those differences as we guide them toward leadership?

Today I want to remind you about two little constructs that I’m sure you’ve heard about in developing leaders. Here is the first one:

  • I do. You watch. We talk.
  • I do. You help. We talk.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.

I think we can infer two principles from this one. First, be intentional about developing others. Second, don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.

That brings me to the second construct. It’s not as obvious. Any kind of skill development takes time and goes through a progression of stages:

  • Unconscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Competence.
  • Unconscious Competence.

We begin not knowing what we don’t know. Then we progress to thinking we can’t do what is being asked of us. As we learn how to do something, we really have to focus on what we’re doing the first few times. But with continued usage, the skill becomes ingrained enough that we begin to do it without thinking about it.

This progression is true for any skill development: playing piano, painting a room, driving a car, or sharing our faith. I often think about how distributing ministry to students and volunteers is like teaching my sons to drive. There was only so much modeling I could do with them. But at some point I needed to get out of the driver’s seat and let them take the wheel. In fact, I noticed that they thought they could do K turns, back out of the driveway, and stop smoothly at stop signs, until they tried it themselves. It turned out to be more difficult than they thought. But it was giving them experience that was the key to developing those skills.

Some time ago, Dr. Steve Douglass wrote to us as staff, We are all about spiritual multiplication—which involves passing ownership of ministry on to others. But that won’t happen if we view most of our disciples as “disqualified” for one reason or another.”

“If we find it hard to have faith that God is able to use them, we won’t even try to challenge them toward their potential as a leader. Or, we may embark on a process of discipleship that is so drawn out that people drop out needlessly.

“Am I advocating that we should ignore that people have certain barriers to becoming multipliers? No, not at all. I am just advocating that we:

  • Have faith that God can make people useful to Him.
  • Look for people whose hearts are right before God (“good soil”).
  • Work with them aggressively to use their strengths and grow in their weak areas.
  • Give them a chance to try to minister, perhaps a little sooner than we might think.
  • Encourage them throughout the process.

“Anytime you find yourself reluctant to do these things, think first of one of your own experiences or those of someone you know well. How “perfect” were you when you got started? How skilled were you at evangelism and discipleship? How different are you now than when someone believed in you and let you try?”

As you think about potential leaders, where do they fall on the conscious/competence scale? What are the next appropriate steps to move them to the next stage? And what stands in the way, on our part or theirs, toward helping them take those next steps?

Fall Coaching Tips


Developing Leaders with Different Personalities.

We are all about raising up lifelong laborers. In my experience, leaders are developed, not typically waiting to be found. For the next few weeks, I will focus on developing leaders.

Different doesn’t mean wrong…necessarily. Sometimes, different…is just different.

Consider different personalities in leadership development. For illustration purposes, I’ll use the DiSC assessment. Its four personalities make it a bit easier to see, as opposed to 16 different combinations in the Myers-Briggs, or even the 34 talents of StrengthFinders.

Scenario 1. You assign two students to buy sound equipment to use at the fall retreat. Suppose one is a D, an initiator toward tasks, and the other is an S, a responder to people.

  • The D is bold, takes the bull by the horns, figures out what to do, and is determined and decisive. They make the purchase, checks that off and moves on to the next task.
  • The S is your “steady-eddie”, the consummate team player, somewhat deliberate, someone who will research the best options for the best price, will check “Consumer Reports”, so that it will be a good purchase.

Scenario 2. You assign two students to plan a social to watch the big rivalry game this weekend. One is a high I, an initiator toward people, and the other is a C, one compliant to their own standards.

  • The I, is thinking about how much fun everyone is going to have, how people will connect, how meaningful the conversations will be. They will keep thinking of people to invite up to the last minute and it will be a great time for everyone.
  • The C, will make a list of everything needed for the party, is there enough food for everyone? are all the details thought out? is there something for everyone so that all feel taken care of?

You can draw your own conclusions about how each person’s preferred manner would be an encouragement or a source of frustration to the other. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong; it just depends on the situation. Again, different isn’t necessarily wrong. Nor is one personality type the proper leadership style for every situation. More often than not, what we think is right is really a matter of personal preference.

Just as there are a variety of leadership styles, there are also a variety of ways that leaders develop. Have you ever had someone ask you to do something? But when you did, they criticized how you did it. In your mind, it seemed like a personality difference, a matter of preference.

Now, criticism is good. Evaluation helps us all to grow and develop. Its always a good rule of thumb to offer 5 positive things for every negative one pointed out.

This brings us back to leadership development. Many of us want to shield our protégé’s from possible motivation deflating circumstances. I think often of a book written a number of years ago, by Erwin Lutzer, Failure: The Backdoor to Success. Most of us learn more through failure than we do through success. Some learn through experience. Some prefer to learn by seeing an example. Some learn by applying principles. Some are motivated by the task.

I don’t think we can say that there is one “Cru way” of leadership development. As you consider those you work with, think about their personality style as well as their preferred learning approach.

Fall Coaching Tips

The All-important First Coaching Call.

Every one of us knows how important it is in establishing a new believer in the faith. We have always said to meet again with the one who just placed their faith in Christ within 24 hours. And as a matter of course we should point them to We want to give them every advantage in seeing the new life become a reality for them.

In the same way, when we meet someone who wants to make a difference for Christ in their community or on their campus, it is important to let them know that help is available. Incidentally, they may not speak the same language or have different motivations. But we can help them take the next steps and guide the process in becoming a leader of a spiritual movement.

Linda Woods, Bridges International Campus Coach, offers a glimpse of what she does in that all-important first coaching call with someone interested in reaching International Students. This is her training piece to help others begin coaching.


Assume that you have texted, emailed or called to set up a time to talk.  You can talk on the phone, or set up a FaceTime or Google Hangout for that time.  (Instruct your potential Key Volunteer to respond to the Hangout invitation if you go that route.)

For the first call, or two, you will want to get to know each other.  These appointments need to be planned out as well.  Here are some ways that they could go.

Call #1

Hi, my name is (Linda).  I’m glad we could find a time to talk face to face about starting a ministry to internationals on your campus.

We know a little bit about each other, so I would like to take time on this call to get to know each other better. Maybe I can also share about how I came to be working for Bridges International.

For starters, tell me about your college experience. (Year in school, major, what classes you are taking, what you like best and least about school, etc.)

Are you involved in ministry at all?  What have you done?  What are your time commitments?

Ask about their family and their personal God story (testimony).

NOTE: You can break up the “interview” by sharing your testimony and work experience here.  Please keep it brief, but be personal.  Re-state anything that you heard in their story that you can relate to and why.  (This will help build trust and rapport.)

Say, “I know that you have a heart for International Students.  How did this come about?  Why do you want to work with them?  Is there a people group that is more interesting to you than others?  Why?”  (You can interject your own personal experiences here.)

One of the first things we will talk about in coaching is to have a personal vision for what you want to see God do among International Students on your campus.

For example:  Here is my vision…. (State your own personal vision here.) Does that sound like something you want to do?  If you don’t or aren’t quite ready for that, we can work on it together!

What we will do together in our coaching times:  As we talk about Kingdom Vision, we will also talk about building a team of like-minded people. Ministry is always more fun when we are doing it with friends.  As you are building up your team, the third thing we will concentrate on is how to brainstorm, strategize and make a plan of attack!  Once you strategize, you might find that you need to be trained and equipped in various ways.  All these steps involve being coached which is what I can help with!  This is the thing that ties all that we do together.

We have covered a lot and barely scratched the surface!  Do you have any questions so far?  Well, we will try to keep this call to one hour or less.  Is this a good time for you?  Could we meet again next week?  In the meantime, be thinking about your Kingdom Vision.

Note:  It might be best to wait on the following until your Key Volunteer is fully vetted.
FYI: Format of a call: (let your KV know the basic format you will follow)

  • A little sharing – What has happened this week? You can ask about anything they said last time. Try to make this time a little more personal.  Have some questions prepared to ask them beforehand to draw them out.
  • Let them know you have some things to cover, but before you do that ask, “Do you have some things on your mind that you want to be sure to talk about before the end of this call?”  (Take notes and cover these things first unless they fall neatly into your plan.)
  • Do “a look back” and “a look forward” format.  In a look back, you can talk about any past events, ministry related conversations, or assignments they were to do.  In look forward, talk about events they are planning or could plan, also cover the training they need. (Each appointment should have some equipping aspect.  You can read an article together, role-play a conversation, learn how to use a tool, etc.)
  • Wrap up by summarizing what you have talked about.  Give them and yourself assignments to follow through on.
  • Share prayer requests and pray for them.

Linda offers further thoughts on what to do on the second call. Unless her leader has already been vetted, she sees these first calls as part of that process. She is asking them to commit together to reach International Students on his or her campus. I like how she does that.

I am here to help you reach the internationals on your campus.  I commit to being here for you and giving you the best of my time, resources and wisdom in order to do this.  If you feel called to go ahead then I would like to ask you to commit to regular times of meeting with me.  They can be as often as every week or every other week…
Do you feel you can and want to make this commitment? Is this a good time for you?  We can try it and if it doesn’t work we will search for a better time.

Fall Coaching Tips

The Network Map.

I was invited to sit in on a series of meetings last week describing ways in which Cru and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship are partnering together.

In one session, we each shared aspects of our respective movement launching processes. It was interesting how similar the language and approaches were. They talked about spying out the land, exploring and encountering, decoding, and identifying a person of peace, all concepts we utilize.

But IV had one piece that I found particularly intriguing. The Network Map. I asked Shawn Young, National Director of Chapter Planting, if I could share it with you. You can watch their video description and how to draw a Network Map with a volunteer or student. A password, NISET, is required.

What I like about their Network Map is the way it helps someone see the relationships they have on campus and how they might be carriers of the gospel. I had shared in an earlier tip about how students are part of various oikos’ on their campus. The Network Map shows those oikos’ in a more tangible way. The process of drawing out the map helps to show the need to be in prayer for others and to consider ways to enter into their spiritual journeys.

Why not try it out with someone you just met on another campus or a different context.

Fall Coaching Tips

Caring for our People.

Much of what I’ve talked about in these tips so far this year speaks to ministry and strategy. But many of us are far enough into this campus year that we want to pay attention to the heart of our staff and leaders. We’ve worked hard to follow up and involve freshmen. It is understandable if we feel tired.

Several years ago, the old Campus Field Ministry national team had a focus on coaching. Various staff worked on “coaching to strategy” tools and others on “coaching to shepherd”.

In an unpublished article, the latter group used the “cycles of momentum” to identify common and predictable emotions that teams experience throughout the year. They categorized their work by
1. Typical emotions experienced,
2. Possible root issues, and
3. Resources and responses.

Their tool listed emotions, roots, and resources for every month of the campus year. As we’re more than half way through September, I am summarizing these for October.

Possible emotions experienced.

  • Weariness / Adrenaline letdown :: Can enter a funk. Real rest needed.
  • Do I have a life? Spouse? etc. :: A proper downshift is needed, and how do I do that?
  • May stop depending on the Lord and enter into default mode.
  • Is this worth it?

Possible root issues.

  • Owning that I have perhaps ignored myself, my family, etc.
  • Identity in ministry success :: An over personalization of results defining them.
  • Short term mindset :: Comparison & frustration with results.

Responses and resources.

  • Book // In the Name of Jesus (Nouwen)
  • Helping them take time to pause, reflect, celebrate, lift eyes up.
  • Article // Reading Your Gauges (Hybels)
  • Reminder of vision from coach/leadership, and pass it on.
  • Talk // Rescue the Dying (Hutchcraft)
  • Coaching toward leaving margin for high level priorities on Position Focus (i.e. Downshift). Tool // Position Focus. Tool // Review Job Description.

If you lead any kind of team, be mindful that you must coach to strategy and coach to shepherd. You are seeking to make a difference for Christ. And you are caring for your people in the process.

Fall Coaching Tips

Next Steps with the Each and the Every.

Last week I mentioned Fezzik, in The Princess Bride, realizing the difference between fighting one and fighting many. I mentioned wanting to both work to meet and involve as many incoming freshmen as possible, as well as learn how to connect with each person within the God-ordained oikos’ He has placed us.

Let me suggest some ways to minister to each and every.

I was a resident of sixth floor Geary Hall in East Halls all four of my years at Penn State, We surveyed students every year and followed up those interested. I can only remember one or two students who ever filled out a survey on my floor.

When I talked with them…hmmm…umm…nah… they guessed they really weren’t that interested after all. So I found myself following up those interested on other floors and in other dorms. I needed a plan for helping to create interest in those I saw everyday on my floor, my oikos. Instead, most of my ministry occurred elsewhere.

I wish I knew then about the five common thresholds everyone wrestles with in coming to faith mentioned in “I Once was Lost” by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. The first threshold is trusting a Christian. Moving from distrust to trust. If they don’t trust me, will they listen to what I have to say?

Kevin Kneeshaw, LMD for Montana, Idaho, and Utah, lists several things we can do to build trust.

  1. Ask good questions. Take time to really get to know someone.
  2. Ask to hear their life journey, their story. Just listen!
  3. Pray!  Remember that this is a spiritual venture. God is the only One who can change a person’s life. It’s not about how slick you are or how good you are at building relationships.
  4. Look for a way you can meet a real need that they have in their life. You will only be able to do this if you have been a good listener.
  5. Acknowledge their barriers to the Gospel/Christ as real and legitimate. Don’t act surprised by the things that keep them from embracing Christ. Remember that all of us at some point had barriers to the Gospel and Jesus.
  6. Invite them into community. Let them see you having a good time with other Christ followers.

That first column on the Missional Map asks if each one in our oikos trusts us?

But at the same time you want your students to see their living situation as a significant place of ministry their help is crucial in the overall development of your movement by following up students they wouldn’t otherwise have a relationship with.

You want to equip them to engage with others. Eric Dellaire, now with Grad Resources had a great tool for helping students connect with those they are following up. He used the FARM acrostic.

  • Family. Where they are from, do they have any siblings, what do their parents do for a living, how is their relationship with their siblings or parents. Family works well when talking with ethnic students as they very much value family.
  • Academics. What is their major, year in school, what do they hope to do with their major when the graduate.
  • Religion. What is your religious background, would you consider yourself a person of faith, what do you believe in, how do you view Christ and/or Christians.
  • Message. Here you can introduce your testimonies, or intro into the gospel or KGP booklet. Ask if they wouldn’t mind if we shared what we believe in or can we get their opinion on the KGP.

It’s important to build the relationship, not just inviting to any event or activity.

Hopefully, these ideas will help your students see the value of the each and the every.

Fall Coaching Tips
Andy Stanley’s Looking for the Uniquely Better.
Beginning the Year Checklist.
A tension: Only the interested or every person?

Beginning the Year Checklist

Good Monday Morning,

It’s a new year. We eagerly anticipate what God might do this year.

Let’s get practical. Our time is limited. The first week on campus for the freshman is probably as important as all the rest of the first semester combined. This first week is when students determine who their friends will be and what they will value in college.

Who are your key student leaders in each of your movements? Coach them through each of these first four areas. As they see God use them right out of the blocks, it will build their confidence for the rest of the year.

1. Articulate your vision of what God will do this year.

2. Connecting with key players.

  • Call each one on your student leadership team to ask how their summer went. Inform them of the first meeting and what their individual responsibility is, and answer any questions they may have.
  • Give your faculty advisor a call to inform him or her of the first events of the semester and to give them specific prayer requests.
  • Make sure your meeting room is scheduled, tables reserved for giveaways or surveys, and ads placed in the newspaper. You want to make sure the details are covered.

3. Leadership team kickoff before freshmen arrive.

  • Share your vision for the year.
  • Lead a devotion from, say Nehemiah 1, about the start of a great undertaking. Nehemiah is a great example of leading in both prayer and action.
  • Inform them of the first few events and make sure that each responsibility is covered.
  • Take extra time to pray for God to move, for new students to connect, and for the impact you will make this year.
  • Encourage everyone to be familiar with the Campus Ministry Year.

4. Planning your first outreach.

  • If you plan some kind of info table or do a giveaway, decide on materials and the earliest time for distribution.
  • If you will have an open house, a “cower” or pizza party, etc., make sure the right “people” people are welcoming visitors. Have the opening talk be brief, visionary, and welcoming.
  • If you use a survey to find interested students, schedule the table or dining hall to take the surveys. Three easy to use surveys with transitions and nationwide tabulating tools can be found at QuEST Resources.
  • Start right away with posters.

Let’s take a mental pause here before proceeding.

  • If you are outside the US, you may have your own unique way of beginning your campus year.
  • If you have leaders on other campuses, why not forward these first four items to them, and schedule a time to talk through some of the details?

It is a huge confidence booster whenever anyone takes on ownership and sees God use them. And it frees you up to prayer walk or do an info table on a campus that doesn’t have student leadership already in place.

And now the final three…

5. Make sure your info is current on the infobase.
(For staff and interns in the US.)

First, edit your profile so that the information is accurate. You are the only one who can do this and it only takes a minute. This is essential for anyone trying to reach you with a contact for a campus. It is amazing how many campuses list out of date info here.

Then, see if your name is attached to the campuses you’re on and want to reach. Our ministry locators are visible to the public. Parents and friends do want their Christian students to get connected. If you have a ministry and it is not listed in the infobase, people see, “We don’t have a ministry at this location…”. They will be far more likely to contact you than email the default box.

6. Direct and delegate rather than just do.
I started driving tractor at 4 1/2 and a truck at 9. By now I think I am fairly good at driving. When it came time to teach my sons to drive, no matter how much modeling and teaching I did, I finally had to get out of the driver seat and give them the wheel. They made some mistakes at first. And I had some white-knuckle moments. But it was necessary.

We are developing leaders. They won’t/can’t lead if we continue to do so. A good starting place is Eric Swanson’s “The Art of Delegation“.

7. Decide where and when to launch.

If it’s in your calendar, it gets done. As a team, decide which campuses or communities you want to launch in and when. Three easy things to do.

The ideal time for pioneering is during the first month of the semester. Students are the most open and available during this time. You may feel like you’re taking time away from existing ministries. Prepare your leaders the week before by saying that you will call them to talk through their responsibilities and answer any questions at that time. Begin to pray that God will use your time of pioneering on new campuses to help the students on your launched campuses grow as leaders.

I tried to focus these final three on what you as a leader must do. Leaders think strategically with the big picture in mind. Let us pray together that God opens doors on more and more campuses and within more communities, so that more and more students can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Have a great week launching and building new movements.