What do Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, singer, actress, and fashion designer Rihanna, church leadership communicator, and influencer, Carey Nieuwhof, and Oprah Winfrey, owner of Harpo Films, OWN, and O Magazine all have in common? Obviously, all four of these people have made great strides in their chosen professions. One might even refer to them as the cream of the proverbial crop. They certainly don’t share the same professions, gender, ethnicity, age, skills, or passions. What each of these “successful” people have in common is each has invested and continues to invest in this one simple, yet powerful leadership tool. Rihanna, Patrick, Oprah, and Carey all have coaches. Yes, even these G.O.A.T.’s (Greatest of All Times) have coaches.

Each of our G.O.A.T.’s above invest in different types of coaches from athletic to voice to executive to leadership. Yet, the core relationship and purpose of having a coach is the same for each. As Michael Jordan states, “A coach is someone who sees beyond your limits and guides you to greatness!” The International Coaching Federation (ICF – the leading global organization for coaches and coaching) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.

In the church world, it is important to understand that coaching is not the same as mentoring, counseling, spiritual directing, or consulting. Those terms are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings and applications.

Mentors guide others along a journey where they have already traveled. They have the experience to know the ruts, detours, points of interest, rest stops, and areas where cautious travel will be required. Having a mentor should lessen the mentee’s time, learning curve, and potential hazards traveling the same journey.

Counseling is based in psychological health and counseling or therapy usually needs to focus on a recovery from a past pain or dysfunction with their clients. In contrast, coaching assumes an overall level of health and wellness occurs in an environment of curiosity and wonder towards discovery.

Spiritual Directors work with clients specifically on spiritual formation. The focus is on the client’s relationship with God. A client typically seeks a spiritual director when they are exploring how to grow more spiritually mature, feel closer to God, connect in more meaningful ways, and more fully discern the implications of how that relationship with God affects her/his life.

Consultants are recognized experts in a certain field who diagnose a problem and prescribe solutions to solve the issues identified. In consulting, the consultant is responsible for the desired outcome. In coaching, the client is provided a discovery-based framework that taps into the expertise of the person being coached for empowerment, self-discovery, and generation of their own plans and actions.

Coaching provides a focused time for leaders to remove themselves from the hectic day-to-day distractions, to-do lists, emails, and meetings to instead look out over the extended organizational landscape. A coach will help her client navigate the learnings from those landscape observations. Coaching is an intentional time set aside for ministry leaders to concentrate important leadership level processing and thinking on such topics as her progress made, blindspots, self-discovery, new awareness, how to overcome obstacles, troubleshoot situations, what the client needs to stop doing, create healthy boundaries, create action steps, and continue to build on her personal foundation. Some sample questions are: Where are you trying to get to? Is that desired outcome in alignment with the organization you are leading? Why is that the desired destination? Are your current actions and habits supporting this desired outcome? What’s the gap between your current situation and your desired destination or outcome? What steps need to be taken to close the gap? How are you sabotaging yourself and/or your desired outcome/destination?

Without a coach, ministry leaders hop from one project to the next appointment, from one hospital call to the next meeting, from one email to the next text, and suddenly find another year has gone by without that well-intentioned plan to be less reactionary, more responsive, work less but be more effective, less stressed, take all vacation earned, and more strategic in 2023. Do yourself a favor in 2023, make an investment in becoming a G.O.A.T. – the Greatest of All Time YOU! Contact a coach to get started today.