Although I continue to hear about SEND missionaries who want to be trained in coaching, I have noticed that there has been a recent downturn in the number of total coaching hours that are being logged by our SEND coaches. This was a surprise as we had been seeing coaching hours continually increasing each quarter for the past couple of years. It was also a disappointment, as SEND would like to develop what we call a “coaching culture” within our mission, believing that coaching is one of the most effective ways to empower our missionaries to keep growing and developing their ministry skills. As our SEND U Leadership Team has talked about this recent downturn, we have wondered whether maybe coaching is being perceived within SEND as something designed primarily for mission leaders.
It is true that SEND U has been emphasizing the benefits of coaching for mission team leaders, but the testimonies of our own missionaries clearly indicates that coaching benefits all missionaries, regardless of whether they are leading other missionaries or not.
In fact, some of the most significant changes in life and ministry after coaching have been seen among those missionaries who were not in a position of leadership when they were being coached. One of our first-term missionaries wrote about the benefits of coaching, “As I was finishing language school, I stood before a many-forked road of ministry opportunities. Which to choose? Everyday life was getting busy and I was beginning to get overwhelmed. How could I fit it all in, or did I need to? Coaching helped me when I couldn’t clearly see my path. Though prayer and wise counsel, the right fork was chosen and my life simplified. I am grateful for the time spent in coaching and for the compassionate yet direct method used.”
Another missionary wrote his coach, saying, “I am deeply grateful for the time we spent together – the coaching was of tremendous value to me personally and spiritually and vocationally and the Lord knew what I needed and sent you my way in at a critical juncture.”
We are not claiming that coaching by itself will dramatically improve your ministry. The power for personal growth and multiplication of ministry fruit comes from the Holy Spirit, not a coach. But a trained and caring coach can help a believer who is walking by the Spirit to listen to what God is saying to them, and start moving in an intentional, consistent way in the direction that the Spirit is leading. As we seek to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) in our personal lives and ministries, it is very helpful to have someone walk alongside of us, someone who is committed to our growth and who will help us to identify the next steps we need to take to fully live out God’s calling on our lives.
If you are interested in exploring whether coaching might be for you, check out the free online assessment, “Am I Ready for Coaching?“.