I have hoped for a real life mentor for years. Finding a seasoned pastor willing to mentor a woman in the art of pastoring is like finding fireflies in Bellingham, Washington. Impossible. Non-existent. Or so it seems. Most pastors are men and most men don’t want to mentor a woman.
So when the voice on the phone began talking about setting me up with a coach, I thought this would be an answer to prayer! In my mind I was thinking of an older senior pastor, maybe retired at this point, mentoring me in how to better live out my calling. Coaching and mentoring were pretty much the same thing, right?
I would soon discover that mentoring and coaching were two very different things. And that my coach, despite my earlier preconceptions is not a pastor that functions in the same way I do. While she and her husband do pastor a church in Montana, she herself does not hold the responsibility of preaching weekly in the Sunday service. She is not the sole person setting the vision and direction for the church, etc. She is also fairly close to the same age and so does not have much additional life experience. How, I wondered is this person going to be able to guide me into being a better pastor?
It turns out , that is not the intended role of a coach. While mentors are typically people who have more life experience and skill in a field and offer the wisdom and advice of their years to those younger and newer to the work, a coach is not there to advise at all. Rather, a coach, I would learn is there to listen and ask questions.
To what did I just agree? Was this some secret plot to get me into counseling without telling me up front? What on earth would I talk about for hours a month to this total stranger? All of my skepticism was on full alert.
Here’s what I’ve found. This coaching thing has the potential to be immensely helpful. Over the last few weeks, my coach has asked me to clarify my goals and make a plan towards accomplishing those goals. She doesn’t give me the plan, but rather forces me to make one. She asks me to identify road blocks and come up with a way around them. She holds me accountable to actually carrying out the action steps I commit to during our sessions.
Coaching has the effect of taking the nebulous thoughts of “one of these days I’m going to __________ (fill in the blank)” and transforming them to “tomorrow I will start the work of __________.” Coaching is a tool to move one from daydreaming (something I could teach a college course in) to accomplishing lifelong dreams.
This blog post is a product, albeit a small one, of coaching. One of those afore mentioned daydreams in my life has been to write a book. Thanks to Coach Colleen, I have begun. Today, I am announcing to the world, “I am a writer.” Okay, maybe not the world, it’s really a small handful of people who read my blog. But I’m putting it out there. My coach says that is a brave thing to do.