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Christian Coaching – Getting to the Heart of the Matter, by Janice LaVore

May 8th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching Women - Guest Posts

Most coaching books talk about the importance to coach from the heart, and I love the way Tony Stoltzfus defines the heart of a coach in his book, Leadership Coaching “the bedrock of great coaching is what’s in your heart for the person you are coaching….powerful coaching comes from studying, internalizing, and imitating the Father’s heart toward us.” Isn’t that a beautiful way to think of how to coach from our heart to our clients? We have Jesus as a role model!

I have felt a yearning to have more scriptural understanding of heart so I’ve begun to study scriptures for clarity on how “heart” is defined in the Bible. For example, in scriptures Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth and in your heart”, or Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”. And, the scripture, Proverbs  23:7 “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he”… in fact, author James Allen’s wrote the classic book As a Man Thinketh that was later transcribed for women by Dorothy Hulst, in As a Woman Thinketh.  One of my favorite scriptures about the heart is Jeremiah 29: 13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  What does “all your heart” mean?

heart-with-lightGod designed our human bodies in such an amazing way, and researchers were baffled when they discovered that the heart begins its incredible functions before the brain is developed in the womb! In fact, the heart contains cells that make and release a large number of neurotransmitters, which were previously thought to be produced only in the brain.  This discovery further affirms that the heart has its own “brain”, which communicates with the brain in the head, hormonal systems, and other pathways.

What does the Bible mean when it talks about the heart?  According to Dr. Paul Carlin in Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life, he states the word “heart” is used to express the essence of a person. It is the composite spiritual part of man where he believes and the heart includes the emotions, the reason and the will.”   Frank Allnutt, in his book, The Christian’s New Heart, says, “We produce choices, desires, and intentions through our faculty of the will, which is located in our spiritual heart’s soul.   We can choose to believe, to love, to embrace God’s calling or we can choose not.  So, if coaching is about forward movement and learning, it seems that we should start with the heart to make a transformational change.

As a coach, I began to ask myself if I am coaching “from” my heart, how do I coach “to” the heart of the person being coached.” How do I really “get” where my client is coming from in order to coach from where they are?  After completing a certification in belief therapy, I’ve taken some of the fundamentals and incorporated these into my Christian Life and Career Coaching practice. These principles originally introduced by Albert Ellis, the pioneer in cognitive behavior therapy, teaches individuals to examine their own thoughts, beliefs and actions and replace those that are self-defeating with more life-enhancing alternatives.

What does the “cognitive coaching process” look like? Well, if we believe something in our heart, that belief impacts our thoughts and our thoughts impact our actions.  If I first understand what my client believes about a certain behavior or situation then we can start a journey that is truly transformational for my client. It will be an all inclusive change, impacting the mind, body and spirit, and it begins “heart to heart”.  To change a behavior and support a client through significant progress in a short amount of time, I need to tap into what they believe and to help them see how they can change their beliefs in order to change their behavior.

I find this cognitive coaching approach helps clients understand that to make lasting changes; it has to be more than setting a goal and taking action to reach the goal. If we do not make the change deep within, the client can easily slip back into the same pattern of behavior they had prior to our coaching.  I want to empower my clients and help them get to a place of “believing in their hearts” who they are in Christ and what it means to be able to have the power of the Holy Spirit work in their lives.

This is what it means for me to coach from my heart and to the heart of my client. It is my goal to see them as Jesus sees them, to hold them up in love and light, and to help them break free from sabotaging beliefs and lies, and to move forward on their individual amazing paths that God has called them to.

It is my belief this is where God wants each of us to be, set free to respond with a passionate “YES” to what He has called each of us to do.  If through coaching, I can help a client get to “YES”, then I have followed God’s plan for my own life as a Christian Life Coach. To God be the Glory!

Janice LaVore is Founder and President of Christian Coach Institute LLC, a  licensed IAC Coaching Mastery School offering a 4 month content rich intensive Christian Life Coach Training and Certification program. You can visit CCI at

Gershon, Michael D., M.D. The Second Brain, New York; Harper Collins 2000, Ruggerio, David A. , Ph.D. “Thalamocortical, Reticular, and Limbic Systems”, Lecture, Columbia University College, New York  4 Feb 200. Transcript , 21 April 2008

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