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Structuring Life for Eternal Rewards by Tony Stoltzfus

Nov 12th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Content, Transformational Coaching, [None]

A practical way to work with a Christian coaching client at their allegiance to Christ is to invite them to structure their lives for eternal rewards. In other words, figure out what God rewards, and treat it as a value system an individual can align their life with. The idea is to start acting like heaven is real, the promises of eternal rewards are true, and it is worth selling everything to pursue this pearl of great price.

Jesus mandated structuring life for eternal rewards as an integral part of being a follower. The book of Matthew alone records over 40 ways to choose treasures in heaven over rewards on earth. These examples involve letting go of temporal things for the eternal, going beyond what the world does to act like God toward others, and forgoing temporal acclaim to gain honor from God.

For instance, one familiar maxim is not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you give. If you draw attention to your good deeds for the sake of your reputation, that’s all the reward you’ll get. But if you are willing to keep them a secret between you and God, for the other person’s sake, God will take special pains to honor you himself. When you align the way you give with this principle you are structuring your life for eternal rewards.

Years ago I coached an assistant pastor named Ed in the midst of a difficult conflict. Pete, a former elder in the church, had been wounded by something Ed said. Instead of talking about what was largely a misunderstanding, he set out to get Ed fired by pulling strings in the background and spreading his skewed version of what had happened. Ed in turn felt hurt and betrayed when he found out what was going on, then vindicated when his senior pastor backed him and relieved when Pete finally left church.

When Ed brought up what had been going on in a coaching conversation, I asked if he had taken the step of forgiving Pete and asking for forgiveness. The idea of forgiving was fine, but asking forgiveness went over like a lead balloon. Ed’s position was essentially, “He attacked me—why should I apologize for something that was basically all his fault?” Ed was dealing with the situation at the basic level of wanting God to vindicate him and change his circumstances.

To get Ed thinking on a different level, I offered this challenge: “You can deal with this situation in terms of who is right, or in terms of your relationship with God. Let’s say for the sake of argument that this is 95% Pete’s fault—why not meet God and get everything he has to teach you on your five percent no matter what Pete does? And which course of action best lives out who you really are: to take initiative to restore what you can of your relationship or leave the ball in his court?”

Ask we talked, Ed began to realize that there was more at stake here than just his honor. Pete had been a friend for years and that he was grieved about the broken relationship. He also realized that he had the opportunity to move from a defensive posture to a healing one if he chose to engage God’s purposes at a higher level.

In this situation, there wasn’t much temporal gain in going and apologizing—in fact, it took effort and placed Ed in a position of humility and vulnerability with someone who had attacked him. If all we were coaching for was happiness in this life, we might say, “Leave Pete behind, and spend your time with people who build you up and value who you are instead of tearing you down.” Some mainstream life coaching literature advises that very approach. But we are coaching for eternity, so we can say, “Laying down your life for a friend is greatness in the eyes of God. This is your moment to be the fullness of who you are in Christ in this world—and that’s something worth living for!”

Tony Stoltzfus is a master coach, author and coach trainer. A presentation of a thorough, practical toolkit for coaching Christian leaders to discover their identity can be found in his book the Christian Life Coaching Handbook.

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