I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
“We think you are the one to coach this author through her book,” the publisher said.
The publisher’s call surprised me. I had coached a few of their authors before but never one, like Lin, with such an amazing story or such a large platform to share it.
“But I’m not sure I can do it,” I said. Doubt and insecurity came at me from all directions.
“Would you just take a look at the project and talk to the author? I’m sure you will change your mind. It’s really an exciting story.”
Agreeing at least on the exciting part, I said that I would talk to the author.
After reading through all the notes and the publisher’s specifications, I called Lin.
Exchanging a few pleasantries, I got to the purpose of my call. I asked, “Do you really think I can help you? After all, you are a highly successful African-American lawyer who has been through things I never even heard of. On the other hand, I am a white, Baptist Southern belle who blushes just reading your notes. I think you probably need someone who understands your life a little better.”
“I think you are the perfect person. You don’t know anything about me, just like my readers. You can ask questions and make sure we get everything really clear.”
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
As I prayed about whether or not this was the right job for me, I realized Lin was right. I was starting this coaching job totally in the dark. I would be able to clarify her words so that the reader who knew nothing about her could understand.
Many times during coaching I am less confident than I should be. My melancholy personality makes me wonder how I can teach anyone anything. I look around at others who know so much more than I do about seemingly everything.
But then God gently reminds me where I started. As a beginning writer I knew very little about the publishing business. I thought I knew how to write, after all most of the time I had received good grades in English class. But the more I learned, the more there seemed to be to learn!
As I learned how to write with excellence because of my calling as a writer and as I learned how to navigate the publishing world, people who were just starting out began asking me to share what I knew. Before long the question became, “Would you be my coach?”
Following Paul’s example with Timothy, I continued learning all I could from the experts while passing along what I was learning to those who needed to learn.
As I worked with Lin, I enjoyed getting to know her. The research I did to learn about her former life was actually interesting and fun. A part of her life dealt with the drug world—a world I had no knowledge of. So how did I educate myself? By hanging out on the street corner and in dark alleys? Of course not! I called a friend, the local sheriff, and offered to take him and his wife out to dinner if he would teach me everything he knew about crack cocaine and those who used it.
When we arrived at the restaurant, he had a ream of printed material on the subject and we had a lovely visit during dinner. I quickly learned if I don’t know how to do something, there is someone out there who does. I also learned that people are taken aback when a sheltered Southern belle asks for instructions on how to make a crack pipe.
Paul instructed Timothy in ministry, realizing that his experience was valuable to his young friend. Each one of us can be a Paul to someone in our lives, whether in a coaching situation or in friendship. God has gifted each of us with wisdom and experience that can benefit those who are coming along behind us.
But if we do not continue to be Timothys and learn from the Pauls in our lives, we will become stagnant and exhaust our effectiveness as coaches.
Lin’s book became very successful. The night we finished the manuscript and said good-bye was a sweet parting. But I knew that we would be forever friends. This Southern belle had learned many great lessons about a culture she knew nothing about. And Lin? She learned a great deal, especially that everyone in the world didn’t understand her world and that God’s love bridges any gaps.
The next day when I answered my doorbell, the florist handed me two dozen yellow roses. A kind gift? For sure. A meaningful gift? Yes. Yellow roses are the symbol of friendship—in this case a lasting one that sprung from a coach’s reluctance to follow her calling.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
Don’t underestimate your abilities. When God calls you to be a coach, He equips you for the task. You must continue training to be the best you can be. As you do, you will be able to coach those who are behind you in their journeys. Everything you learn helps you grow and makes you a better coach.
Paul was our model coach. He showed us how to walk alongside those we coach, not only teaching them in the areas of our expertise but also guiding them to walk closer to God in the process.
Though my initial conversation with Lin made me feel inadequate, the end result was an affirmation of security in the calling God has given me. He doesn’t call us to know everything when we are starting out; He just wants a willingness and desire to be equipped for the tasks He gives us.
Linda Gilden is an author, speaker, editor, and writing coach. As Director of Writing Programs for CLASSEMINARS, Inc., the CLASS Christian Writers Conference and the Carolina Christian Writers Conference, Linda encourages others to clearly communicate God’s love to the world. With more than a thousand published articles and several books, she specializes in coaching writers to communicate with excellence as they achieve their publication dreams. Linda is a member of the International Christian Coaches Association. For more information visit www.LindaGilden.com.