David Stoop Ph.D.
Pay close attention to your life.
1 Timothy 4:16a, ISV
It’s difficult to foster self-awareness in our clients if we as coaches haven’t been willing to walk down that path ourselves. Because we bring our own stuff into our coaching sessions, either intentionally or unintentionally, it’s important to stay current with what’s going on in our own hearts and minds.
The apostle Paul, who was what you could call a coach, instructed Timothy, his coachee, to pay close attention to his life. One way to do that is to ask yourself some powerful questions. Here are a few questions that have helped me to stay objective about my life.
Am I Paying Attention to What Is Impacting Me Emotionally?
I was working with a grieving widow whose husband had died in a plane crash. She had shared how their last conversation just before he boarded the fatal flight had been filled with anger. We had talked for a number of sessions and she seemed stuck in the grieving process. Finally the breakthrough came as she blurted out, “I was so angry that I didn’t tell him I loved him at the end of the conversation!”
That conversation left me with a deep sadness. Later, as I reflected on her story, it hit me how much was left unfinished in her life. Her father wouldn’t let her see her husband’s body, and she hadn’t gained closure on their last disagreements. Naturally, I started to wonder what was unfinished in my life? What had I left undone or unsaid in my closest relationships? If I was to die suddenly, would my wife know that I had loved her?
Am I Making My Closest Relationships a Priority?
As a marriage and relationship coach, I encourage my clients to invest time with those they love, knowing how those closest connections are key to a meaningful life. If I am staying current in my marriage, then I need to routinely ask myself if I am making my wife a priority.
One thing my wife and I’ve found especially helpful in building intimacy in our marriage is to pick ten or twelve verses in Scripture to focus on. We each read the assigned verses separately, paying special attention to what the Holy Spirit might be revealing. After we have read the verses several times, we each journal our thoughts or insights. Later, we sit down together and share what God has shown us. At the end of our discussion, we take five minutes for meditative prayer.
This small investment of time not only helps us to grow closer but to stay current with what we each of us is thinking and feeling. In addition, our ritual is a way of making our marital relationship a priority as well as deepening our relationship with God. And that leads me to the next question I ask myself.
Am I Paying Attention to Growing Emotionally and Spiritually?
What am I doing to nurture my emotional and spiritual growth, or am I just expecting it to happen? If my faith as a Christian is a core value of mine, then am I intentionally shining God’s light in the darker areas of my heart? Maybe there is a grudge or some unforgiveness I need to deal with. Or perhaps there is some pride or arrogance I’m justifying or tolerating.
I see people who are so caught up in the busyness of their lives they have no time for reflection on their own life. I saw a couple last night–he works probably 60 hours a week, travels often in business, and even when he is home for a short time, his blackberry is in his hand and he is still “at work.” Sometimes in the middle of their conversation, his wife begins to talk about the “circus that came to town, and the elephants in their yard.” As she suspected, he wasn’t hearing a word she said. If he couldn’t listen to his wife, you know he is not listening to his own emotional or spiritual needs.
Am I consistently carving out the time needed for self-examination? Or am I slowly drifting away from this routine? We hold our clients accountable for the actions they want to take. Who is holding me accountable to follow through?
Coaching the Coach Tip:
Stay current, or pay attention, in your own life by taking time for self-reflection. What is impacting you emotionally this week? If you look at how you recently have spent your time and resources, would that reflect the priorities you say are most important?
What are you doing to intentionally growing emotionally and spiritually? Is there someone who is paying attention to your life and holding you accountable to do what you said you wanted to do? Remember, we cannot successfully encourage our clients to pay close attention to their lives if we aren’t willing to do the same ourselves.
David Stoop, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in California. He is the founder and director of The Center for Family Therapy in Newport Beach, California, where he has his counseling practice. He is an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary and serves on the Executive Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Dr. Stoop is often heard as the co-host of the national New Life radio program. He and his wife Jan live in Newport Beach, and have three sons and six grandchildren.
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.