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To: All SEND members
From: Ken Guenther
Re: Comments about Coaching: A monthly SEND U communication
Greetings from Ukraine. To those who might not know me, I serve as the SEND U Director and have recently relocated to Kiev, Ukraine. After serving for 10 years as area director in Far East Russia, my wife Bertha and I have recently joined the International Office to head up SEND International's new training department for our own missionaries, called SEND U. With Warren's blessing, we decided not to relocate to Farmington, but to stay in Eurasia in one of our receiving areas. Almost 50% of SEND's “field” missionaries are within a couple hours flight from Kiev, so we are in a central location. We are so thankful for SEND Ukraine's gracious hospitality and help in getting settled into life in Kiev.
An essential component of SEND U's training is providing coaching for those who are seeking to grow and develop in their ministry skills and leadership. Based on our own personal experience with coaching, and our understanding of the needs of our missionaries, Warren and I are convinced that personal coaching is critical to the success of our training programs. This summer, I participated in a conference call with a number of SEND missionaries who have received professional training in coaching. We discussed how we can better inform our mission membership about the availability and advantages of coaching. I was encouraged to send out a monthly email to our entire membership, talking about coaching.
What is coaching? One website defines it as “a client-centered process that is solution-focused and result-oriented, facilitating the enhancement of a client's capacity to make their own choices and create their own style of life to achieve personal fulfillment.” Our SEND U website gives the following definition of Christian coaching: “Coaching is an ongoing conversation that empowers a person or team to fully live out God's calling in their life and profession.“
The definitions are not particularly helpful until we start talking about what actually happens in a coaching session. Coaching is all about asking powerful questions that enable the coachee (the one being coached) to more deeply and accurately reflect on their current situation and decide their next steps. A coach encourages you to take responsibility for accomplishing what you know you need to do. The coach refrains from giving advice or his or her ideas before the coachee can develop their own solutions under the guidance of the Spirit. The coach then provides accountability as the coachee commits to a particular course of action. In the next coaching session, the coachee is asked about the progress in accomplishing those action steps.
How does coaching differ from mentoring? Both are one-on-one conversations, using accountability and support to help a person grow. Tony Stoltzfus (Leadership Coaching) says, “When I'm mentoring, I'm teaching a person, letting him draw from me or learn from my experiences. When I'm coaching, I'm pushing a person to draw from his or her own resources and experiences. Coaching is helping people learn instead of teaching them.” Both mentoring and coaching are valuable methods of promoting personal growth, and both will have their place in SEND U. At times, a coaching relationship may take on more of a mentoring flavour, if there is a great difference in experience and age between the coachee and his/her coach. But in contrast to a mentor, the coach does not need to be more spiritually mature or experienced or knowledgeable about your particular area of ministry in order to become a powerful agent of growth in your life. Instead, the coach walks alongside as an encouraging friend who believes in you, and is trained in the process of change and growth.
Well, that is enough about coaching for today. More next month. But if you are interested in finding a coach to help you with your life and ministry, do not hesitate to contact me.
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