Home Columnist The place of Coaching in Christianity (Part 1) By Dr. Oyewole Sarumi

The place of Coaching in Christianity (Part 1) By Dr. Oyewole Sarumi

by Church Times

Christian Leadership Coaching with Dr. Oyewole Sarumileadership



Opening Poser:
In a class with Peter Wagner on CHURCH MULTIPLICATION, where he told the students about the tremendous growth of African independent churches throughout Central Africa in the 1980s, a student asked: “Dr. Wagner, these churches are largely heretical! Many of those African pastors are corrupt and extremely authoritarian. Their theology is a mix of animistic practices and Christianity. One of the largest of these independent churches doesn’t even believe in the deity of Jesus. How can you hold them up as an example of church growth?”

How would you answer this as the Coach?
Dr. Wagner said: “It wasn’t until 325AD that the Council of Nicaea agreed on the deity of Jesus, and another 75 years before they could describe the Trinity. It wasn’t until the Synod of Hippo in 393 AD that the Canon of Scriptures as we have it now was settled. So, if we can give the Holy Spirit a couple of 100years to work things out with the early church leaders, I think we can give Him a couple of decades to work out any issues with our African brothers and sisters.”

Who is a Coach and Who is The Coach?
This column is about learning. It’s about learning with the help of a Coach and THE COACH. Who is a Coach, and who is The Coach? The Scriptures answer this for us in John 14:26 – “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [NIV]

Jesus Christ’s instruction by the promise is that the Holy Spirit will teach and remind us, so we as leaders never give space for the Holy Spirit to do His work as we keep teaching and reminding our members and other leaders like parents, mentors, teachers or supervisor does.

The response of Dr. Wagner above during a church multiplication class is highly instructive and overwhelming and convicted to discerning church leaders about leadership responsibility. Why? First, it is not your responsibility to change others. The Holy Spirit can and will do it on His own – probably with me, but most often without me. Secondly, it is not my responsibility to correct everything that I think is out of tune with the scriptures or best spiritual practices. The Holy Spirit may choose to use me in this regard, or He may have other means or different timing in mind do this.

The human leader is a coach, while the Holy Spirit is The Coach. A good Christian leadership coach has total reliance on the Holy Spirit to make necessary changes in the life of the coachees [under-leaders or a brother/sister] as the case may be.

I make bold to say that many Christian leaders do not know the dividing line between coaching, counseling, consulting, training, advising, instructing and commanding. We will unpeel these terms as we progress in this column.

You can become a Remarkable Leader!
In this challenge, we are set on a voyage of exploration into deep things of life and ministry, and this experience would enrich your total life if you would carefully allow us together to peel the leaves one after the other. This is a journey for those interested in being a remarkable leader.

As you may already know, being a leader has nothing to do with your title, rank and position. Leadership is a spirit you need to catch, a skill you need to develop, and catching it in this 21st century require that you do not chart or navigate the waters of ministry and life alone. You need a guide, someone who has the wherewithal to accompany you all the way – in pain, in joy and when stuck or stranded in this foray called life.

Everyone Needs A Coach!

As we all know, even in the world of professional sports where athletes who are at the pinnacle of performance, the top of their game, the best in the league, individual superstars – even for them, you won’t find a single one without a Coach and / or Consultant. Many times, the more of a superstar they become, the more individual Coaches and support staff will engage their time. The thinking is, you are already incredible with the talents you have, how much more awesome can you be with a little intentional guidance.

Research Data on Church Leaders and Coaching

Research has shown that about:
89% of pastors, ministers and church leaders are navigating the oceans of ministry and life alone.
65% of leaders are equipped to coach/mentor, but majority are not willing or make time for it.
85% of under-leaders believe they don’t need help due to lack of trust.
This has led many to waddle on into a puddle, sometime into a torrent and many into the tremulous sea of ministry unguarded and uncharted. The result sometime is mixed – not too bad, good and sometime even great. However, much of this might have been accomplished with burnt fingers, wounded heart and infliction of pain to those who are following trusting that we know what we are doing.
What Christian Leadership Coaching does for you and your Leadership ability is that it simply offers strategic and intentional guidance towards your goals. A focused tweaking, taking into consideration the abilities and talents already found within you and your church organization. That is what makes it so special and relevant in this dynamic era we are.
The Christian Leadership Coaching experience is designed specifically around you, your goals, your life dynamic and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is totally unique to you. Nobody else will be coached like you, because nobody else has been called by God to do what you have been called to do in the community that you have been called to do it. Your coach will approach your Leadership with a unique perspective and a unique set of goals designed just for YOU.
It is important for those who want to be effective spiritual leaders to understand the difference between mentoring and coaching. A mentor shares what he personally knows — what he has learned. A coach assists by helping people discover answers and solutions to questions and problematic situations. Now, let’s differentiate clearly:

They facilitate the development of personal or professional objectives. The coach doesn’t provide you with the answers to a challenge or even tell you what to do. Instead the coach acts as a facilitator to help you ask better questions, and explore your own answers. They serve as a guide while you create a plan, define outcomes, and experiments to move your thinking forward. Think “facilitator” and “action-oriented.”

They give those with less experience advice or assistance in a specific area. For example, when mentoring someone in product management, we may cover specific techniques and tools that they’d like to understand better—like Discovery, Story Mapping, user interviews, etc. Mentors may even advise on the skills needed to move up to the next level in a client’s career. However, unlike a coach who helps you discover your own answers, a mentor teaches, sharing their experiences and knowledge on industry related questions and challenges. Also, mentors are often a voluntary or unpaid role. Think “advisor” and “teacher.”

They are brought in to answer specific questions or address specific challenges for an organization. They provide recommendations — based on their own experience, market trends, research, and many other inputs — and are often asked to be responsible for implementing those recommendations within the client’s organization. Again, a key distinction from coaches is that a consultant provides the answer — and maybe even own delivering of it — while a coach helps you facilitate your own answers. Think “problem solver” and “implementer.”

NOTE: More on the differences below as the above is just for emphasis and clarity.

Personally, I have had many mentors and coaches over the past 30 years. Two of them mentored me on and off for over 15 years. Another coached me for almost a decade.
At several turning points in my career and ministry, I’ve benefited from both mentoring and coaching experience and guidance. The two differ significantly. They shared own journey and advised me on how to find my own. Their help has been invaluable.

Consequently, thereafter, I seek to understand more what Coaching is all about. When I became a credentialed coach, I came to understand that many who called themselves coach don’t know what they are saying especially in this part of the world.

To be continued…….

Dr. Oyewole Sarumi is a Pastor, Certified Coach, People’s developer and The Chief Strategy Officer of Christian Leadership Institute for Management Development. Email: oyewolethecoach@gmail.com, facebook.com/OlaOyewole.






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