Why Are We Here, Anyway? by Jeff WilliamsNov 2nd, 2009 | By Jeff Williams | Category: Featured Content
The retreat leader who asked this question to a group of Christian Coaches said that he wasn’t sure that the Christian Coaching movement as a whole had a clear answer. He also said that we needed to understand God’s purpose for Christian Coaching in order to be good stewards of the ministry into which He had called us.
The answers from the audience were similar. The theme was that God isn’t done in human history, that The Church is His chosen vessel through which He wants to accomplish His purposes and Christian Coaching is a way to strengthen it. In other words, Christian Coaching is one way God wants to strengthen the Church to fulfill its purposes.
God wants the Church to be a potent, compassionate army of servants that reveals Jesus to the world and thereby accomplishes His redemptive purposes for humankind. Fulfillment of God’s purposes will require a potent contribution from every Christian. Christian Coaching can do a lot to help Christians identify and live out their purpose.
Full engagement of our God-given purpose requires a clear understanding of our calling and the essential character and skills to live it effectively. Christian Coaching is a great way to expedite the identification and understanding of calling as well as the development of the requisite elements of character and competencies.
What do you think about this? Does it resonate for you?
Your Call Within Gods Call
It’s no accident that you are reading this article, and it is no accident that you have been called to minister as a Christian Coach. God has specific things He wants to accomplish through you. He has specific people that He is going to bring across your path for you to serve, sometimes just for a brief but pointed life-giving conversation; and sometimes for more. Christian Coaching is a lifestyle done as ministry, anytime, anywhere.
I’m feeling guilty as I write this. Earlier today I went to the library. It is rainy and cold (40 degrees) in Washington. An apparently homeless man was parking his bicycle loaded with all of his possessions near the front entrance under an overhang. He seemed to be looking for temporary shelter. I felt an urge to talk with him. It increased as he made eye contact. I wondered, “Is this someone you would have me minister to, Lord?” I thought of a colleague who intentionally puts herself in the midst of homeless in Denver, CO and coaches them. “What do you want?” she asks. And she often returns with food, music for worship and street teaching as well as to have conversations that are coaching conversations because she lives and breathes the heart of a coach (the heart of Jesus) by putting their needs ahead of her own. Cheryl Jackson’s inspirational example brings me back to the second question Tony asked the retreat group:
“What do we need to do to steward the responsibility He has given to us?”
My silent but immediate response surprised me, “Treat it as a ministry, not as a business.” I was hesitant to say this because I didn’t want to step on any toes, but I do really believe it. Then I remembered that saying something like that had a public precedent. Eight years earlier one of my mentors said it to a gathering of thousands:
Some of you have become much more about acquisition than service. You prioritize making money through your latest book contract or in your private practices rather than serving ‘the least of these’ as Jesus told us to do. You’ve taken the ministry He’s given you to steward for His purposes for ALL of His people and turned it into an opportunity to profit financially and to build your reputation. For these reasons, I am no longer proud to call you colleagues and I will no longer affiliate myself with this organization.
Whoa! You could have heard a pin drop. What a shocking thing to say publicly to a group of colleagues, students and ministry leaders. It wasn’t politically correct by any stretch, but it was honest, accurate and the boldest public expression of integrity that I’d ever witnessed. This was the courageous rebuke that God directed Dr. Gary R. Collins, President of AACC to make as part of his farewell keynote address to the 1999 gathering of The American Association of Christian Counselors. It was an organization he’d founded and helped to develop and was now departing over a matter of principle.
Movements and Purpose
My point is that every movement and organization developed by God must be vigilant in pursuit of God’s full purposes for it or else it will be hampered, hamstrung, deterred and distracted from accomplishing all that God has in mind for it. And, those of us called to it will miss the fullness of God’s best for others through our specific callings.
AACC was begun with high hopes. I remember the colored fliers distributed to Dr. Collins classes at Trinity International University where I was a student from 1987-89. It was a grass-root start-up organization that Christian Counselors were excited about and proud to join. We dreamed together about carrying a torch of hope and compassion around the world to serve those desperate for a skilled and compassionate touch from God through the ministry of Christian Counseling. But somehow, along the way, something changed amidst the organization’s influencers to an extent that its initial founder and champion decided that he had to dissociate from it; and not quietly.
Reflect carefully on what Dr. Collins said about a greater degree of concern about self interest than others, and about losing sight of the Jesus’ mandate to serve “the least of these.” What is God saying to you through this?
It is unlikely that any of us who embrace and walk-out the fullness of God’s calling on our lives will avoid adversity and suffering. Nor will we be able to do it without faith. Some of us continue to be challenged to serve clients with little means of compensating us for our services (e.g., mission leaders serving in impoverished regions), and to serve according to need and our giftedness to meet the need instead of the client’s ability to pay.
The tension and debate over how we steward the ministry of Christian coaching will continue in a constructive way, I hope. None of us has the final say on the “right” way to distinguish business from ministry or how we use business principles and practices to steward our ministry. But as Christians we all DO have a mandate to be about the Father’s business of ministering to the least of these.
What do you think I should have done with the homeless gentleman (besides ignore him as I did)? Should I have called the police so that they could arrest him as a vagrant, or refer him to a secular shelter? Or would it have been good to invest a few God-given minutes to dare to have a possible Kingdom conversation?
What about the couple that just filed bankruptcy and doesn’t have adequate cash-flow to meet their monthly bills? How can they continue to be served by the ministry of Christian Marriage Coaching at a time when skilled and loving support and encouragement is especially critical? Or the mission leader living on withering support in India who is hungry for skilled listening, challenge, affirmation to help him address critical leadership challenges and decisions that will affect a team of native mission workers and all they have influenced for Christ?
How will I respond when asked if I will serve even though some that need help can’t pay my rack rate for coaching? How will you?
If the world economy gets worse before it gets better (or if it stays bad) these will be important questions for us to consider. When Christ returns and reviews what we did with the gifts He gave us I’d love for the movement of us who call ourselves Christian Coaches to be able to say, “Lord, I think we did as you wanted”, and for Him to respond, “Indeed you did. You served.”
 Tony Stoltzfus asked this question to a group of Christian Coaching leaders in September 2007
 This is a paraphrase from my memory. I was in the audience when Dr. Collins gave this speech. I tried to reach him for a verbatim statement but at the time of this writing he is overseas blazing more trails for Christian Coaching and Counseling.
 Some question the wisdom of such public rebukes and departures. Personally, as a developing leader in the field at that time, I was very glad to be cautioned against the temptation to become more about money than ministry. Are the two mutually exclusive? No. But when the emphasis is more on what we get out of it than on the needs of those we serve, I think we are serving mammon, not God.