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Coaching Tips: Needs of Longterm Missionaries Part 1

Jan 21st, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

Last year many of us at CMI had the privilege of providing coaching to a group of longterm career missionaries who had never received coaching before.  A couple coaches, after working with their new clients for several weeks/months, were confused by the client’s reluctance to set a goal, even though they seemed committed to and understood the coaching process.  What was going on?

            Many leaders who have been on the field 15-20 years have not had the opportunity to process the intense experiences, hurts and disappointments, losses and victories that longterm ministry brings due to isolation and lack of supportive relationships.  When the coachee finally gains a safe relationship that focuses on reflection and verbal processing, all of these experiences can rise to the surface.  One of the greatest gifts a coach can give to a career missionary is understanding of the necessity to process these life experiences, so that the missionary can freely engage the present and move towards the future.  In these situations, debriefing becomes the first goal of the coaching relationship; either taking place within the coaching sessions over a period of time (if the coach has had training in debriefing skills), or finding resources and obtaining debriefing elsewhere. 

            How do you know if your new missionary client needs intentional debriefing?  Ask!    Here are some questions to focus the process: 

                        Who do you talk deeply with about your experiences on the field?

                         What did you do with these hurts and disappointments?

                         When have you processed these losses and victories?

            Providing a safe relationship and a listening ear are highly valued deliverables for missionaries.    Processing what they have gone through, laughing and crying, gaining perspective, and re-discovering God’s grace in the story can provide fresh momentum to move forward towards new goals in the future.


Tina Stoltzfus Horst is the Founder and Executive Director of Coaching Mission International. To learn more about Tina, or about getting started in missions coaching, go to: – or contact her directly at:

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