Sandra Dopf Lee
Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.
Coaching is one of the fastest growing careers today as our society looks for guidance and new ways to navigate through challenges and excel. Although the coaching profession has grown exponentially over the last several years, it has experienced a few growing pains. There are still some professional disciplines that do not recognize coaching as the viable and influential career that it is today. This can be discouraging for some coaches—especially those who are just beginning their careers. I have identified three key reasons why coaches are sometimes misunderstood or misrepresented as they build their practices:
- Some coaches lack proper Unfortunately there are professionals who have not taken the time or opportunity to understand the field of coaching for what it is and what it is not. They represent themselves as coaches without the proper training and qualifications.
- Coaching as a professional career is still relatively Potential clients do not know coaching is an option or understand the value of being coached.
- Some coaches fear the unknown. Will they find enough clients to support their business? Will they have the wisdom to know which professionals to partner with and which ones will cause more harm than good?
When I began my practice as a divorce coach, I faced every one of the three issues I shared above. I obtained the necessary formal education and practical experience and did not associate with frauds. I came to realize, however, that the two biggest hurdles in my career were educating my clients and other professionals in the value of my services to divorcing couples.
Many people recognize and accept a life coach, a health coach, and a financial coach to name a few. This is partly because some famous television personalities have helped educate the public about the benefits of working with a coach. However, a divorce coach is still very new. A “Christian divorce coach,” like me, is even less understood and recognized.
I wrestled with God for several months believing that I must not be following His plan if I thought I was to become a divorce coach. How would other Christians perceive my career? Would they believe I was promoting divorce? Would they believe I was going to make it easier for couples to divorce? Would people question how I could call myself a Christian and yet choose this as my career path?
Once I surrendered and truly knew within my soul that I was being called to this new career as a divorce coach, then I faced a whole other set of questions and doubts. Would I be able to earn an income as a Christian divorce coach? How would I educate my prospective clientele about this area? How would I ever find the confidence to work with attorneys?
I’d had limited experience working with attorneys: when I closed three home purchases, prepared my will, and got a divorce. My take away from these five experiences was that all attorneys seemed to speak a different language than I do; they all seem way smarter than I am; and they all seem to make a lot more money than I have. I knew I wouldn’t have to work with attorneys on a daily or weekly basis, but I did know as a divorce coach I would need to interact with them from time-to-time. I feared attorneys would not accept me as a professional nor would they accept my career as a legitimate practice. In the beginning of my new career, many attorneys did not believe in me or the field of coaching. Many days I felt discouraged and I just wanted to give up and quit. I allowed my own self-doubt, the opinions of others, and my fears to go before what I knew to be true in my heart: that my life experiences, my education, and my life calling from the Lord had brought me to the career of divorce coaching. Other people’s opinions of me or my profession did not matter; I was following God’s greater plan for my life and I knew he wanted me to stay the course.
Divorce is one of the most challenging and life altering experiences a person may face. The emotional, financial, spiritual, and physical damages can often leave divorced people immobilized with fear, doubt, shame, and guilt. They struggle to see God in the midst of their pain and they question God, and their faith and beliefs. Their energy is usually expended on trying to “win” the divorce battle, living in the crisis, and fearing the unknown and to just plain struggling to survival. Children are usually the biggest victims in the divorce process. They have lost their family as they knew it; they won’t have open access to both mom and dad as they had before the divorce, and they often feel caught in the crossfire between two fighting parents.
The divorce process has so many struggles and fears all of its own, which is exacerbated by the legal system and working with attorneys. In the midst of all this angst, however, is a good time for the divorce coach to show up. We can help with a plan, putting structure around the conflict like no other professional does during this time.
Ultimately, the hope of a Christian divorce coach is to bring the Lord’s peace, strength, and leading into the process. We hope that others will see the hand of God at work in the midst of what Satan intends for total loss.
Attorneys’ attitudes toward divorce coaching as a career began to change when they saw that clients’ lives were being changed by the coaching approach. They saw that I cared for the entire family’s well-being and shifted clients’ focus toward healing and growth and not destruction. Attorneys witnessed divorcing couples learning to separate their issues as a couple from the need to continue to work on building a way to co-parent together for the sake of their children. God didn’t desire the divorce, but when it happens, a trained and equipped coach can help people grow through and beyond their divorce into the life He still has for them to live.
>Today, I am thrilled to say that by staying true to what I knew the Lord wanted me to do, I have had the opportunity to help hundreds of divorcing couples as they look to rebuild their lives. I’m glad I tackled my fear of working alongside attorneys years ago. I now find they respect and understand coaching as a profession, and we actually enjoy working as a team to rebuild lives. I believed in my important work, and although it was not always easy, I stayed true to God’s plan.
Coaching the Christian Coach Tip:
You have to believe in the viability of your career before you can expect other professionals to believe in you. The following tips are important to keep in mind as you build a thriving coaching practice.
- First, believe in and respect your career. Then, you can begin to expect others to respect you and your career as a coach.
- Represent yourself as a professional in every area of your practice: in your personal presentation, in your written representation (business cards, print material, ), and in your online presence (your website, social media portals, etc.).
- Join networking groups of other like-minded professionals that work with the same demographics or clients as you (for example, as a divorce coach network with family counselors and financial advisors).
- Educate yourself about your colleagues’ careers and look for ways you can partner or complement one
- Always be ready with a brief (thirty seconds to two minutes) explanation of your services in the event you have the opportunity to educate a professional or the public about the field of coaching and the benefits it has to
Sandra Dopf Lee is a divorce coach, mediator, speaker and author. Sandra is the founder of Emerge Victorious, LLC and co-author and producer of “The Next Steps” DVD video curriculum for women transforming their lives after divorce. She equips other coaches through her Divorce Coach Training program. Divorce changes life stories and God still has a life plan for them, but they often need a coach to help guide them through and beyond this process. www.EmergeVictorious.com
Georgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.