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Believing in People by Tony Stoltzfus

Dec 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Content, Transformational Coaching, [None]

The gift of relationship is the linchpin of God’s strategy for transforming people. Therefore, if we’re working at change, it would make a lot of sense for us to imitate God’s approach. Coaching does exactly that. The key to the heart of coaching is learning to see people as God sees them. As coaches, we consciously choose to interact with our clients in terms of their destiny, not their problems. We get to know them at a deep level: their dreams, hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses. We rejoice with them when they get a victory, and grieve with them when things don’t work out. We see them in their best moments, and at their worst—and then believe in them.

Believing in people doesn’t work at a superficial level. You can’t do this by giving an encouraging word to an acquaintance as you pass each other in the hall. People do not truly feel believed in until they are truly known. The power of belief only flows fully through the channel of open, authentic, personal relationships.

God knows us fully as unique individuals. He doesn’t relate to us as part of the mass of humanity, but takes the time to work with us as valuable, individual sons and daughters. It’s not merely that He loves us in a generic sense: He loves me and knows me and believes in me! When we imitate God by taking the time to really know our clients as unique individuals, giving them unconditional belief and support, the transforming power of God flows in like a tidal wave. Relationships animated by the heart of a coach empower our clients to change in ways they never could on their own.

If there is a mandate for coaches in the New Testament, it’s this verse:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”                                                                                                                   II Corinthians 5:16-17

Our assignment as coaches is to look at people from God’s point of view, in terms of their destined place in the Bride of Christ. We want to instinctively tune into their God-given capacity, their untapped potential, the fleeting glimpses we see in them of the image of God—and consistently relate to them in those terms. By seeing them this way, we change how they see themselves, and that opens the door to incredible transformation.

Here’s what this means in practical terms. If my clients are doing things I don’t understand, my default setting as a coach is to reserve judgment and believe they have a good reason for what they do. When my clients have a problem or growth issue, I choose to believe that they are capable of stewarding their own lives and solving the problem. If I think a client is making a mistake, I still act out my belief in that person’s capacity to manage their life by not stepping in and making the decision for them. In every situation, my default posture is to believe in the person, in order to be the same kind of advocate Jesus is. I do this because I know that the gift of belief unleashes the potential for transformation. The relationship comes first, then the change.

The Power of Believing in People

“Coaching was ideal for Abigail. She reveled in having someone listen as she talked about her inner life. She has said many times since beginning coaching that the thing that has been most transformational is having someone actually believe in her. As a result, she accepted the challenge to begin to think of herself as God does. She created action steps that included journaling, meditating on Scripture, and practicing assertiveness in groups. The progress came quickly as she changed what she believed about herself.

“Just as impressive were the changes Abigail made in her eating and health habits. She got a personal trainer and began keeping a food journal to track what she ate, and the pounds fell off.

“Abigail now believes that she can solve her own problems in partnership with Christ, and her confidence is soaring—so much so that she has begun coach training so she can help others find the freedom and confidence that she has found.”

The Two Mindsets

The Coaching Mindset

If I’m coaching, I believe that God is already active the lives of others, and that they can take responsibility and solve their own problems much better than I can. They most need me to believe in them and to provide support, encouragement and accountability as they act on what they know.

The Advice-Giving Mindset

If I’m giving advice, I believe that God wants to do something in the lives of others, but that they don’t have the ability to figure things out and need me to provide answers. They most need me to solve their problems, and once they have the right ideas they ought to be able to walk them out on their own.

Tony Stoltzfus is a master coach, author and coach trainer. More of his writings on the disciplines, skills and heart of a Christian coach can be found in his book, Leadership Coaching.

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