Coaching the Single-again Christian

Blog Graphics (22)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Elizabeth Gaston Cunningham


The LORD will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11

After her divorce, it took six years and three recovery groups for Sidney to feel ready to date again. She’d been married for twenty-one years to her high-school sweetheart. Now, at the age of forty-six, she was trying online dating. The experience was both exhilarating and terrifying, she confided. It was exhilarating because of her ardent hope for new love. It was terrifying because the other women on the online dating websites somehow seemed “more attractive . . . more confident . . . more with-it.”

sergey-zolkin-192937After numerous coffee meetups and dates with men from the sites, Sidney was exhausted and uncertain. “It’s like a part-time job,” she lamented. “Each night, I sift through online profiles, winks, likes, pokes, requests, voice mails, texts, and emails. And then there’s the sexual component. I’ve had a few dates with Justin, a wonderful man from my singles group. I like him a lot, but last weekend, he suggested the two of us go on an overnight camping trip. I don’t know what to expect—or if I can truly trust him.”

Through our coaching relationship, Sidney sought to clarify goals, identify expectations, and establish boundaries that would guide her as she ventured back into the brave new world of dating.

I suggested Sidney make a list of character traits that she considered important in a potential mate—a list of “must haves” and “can’t stands” that she would not be willing to compromise. Sidney enjoyed the assignment and came back the next week with a well- considered list, which we discussed, item by item. This exercise also provided her with objective criteria she could use to evaluate her relationship with Justin. While she hadn’t given it much thought before, Sidney now realized that his habit of dealing impatiently with service staff at restaurants and shops was a concern of hers, which she needed to stop ignoring.

To help Sidney gain more self-awareness, I asked a colleague to administer the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram personality-preference assessments, and then meet by phone with Sidney and me to review results. Sidney was intrigued by these two new lenses through which she could interpret her temperament. The tools also helped her pinpoint significant differences between Justin and herself. This led to discussions about what often draws men and women together initially (differences) versus what tends to bond them long-term (similarities).

Though intellectually she grasped the concept of moral purity, Sidney confided she struggled with the notion that two middle-age adults, both sexually active during decades of marriage, would need to wait until after marriage to resume sexual activity. This led to a number of conversations exploring the meaning of love from God’s perspective.

I noted that many singles approach love backwards. That is, they become involved romantically and physically and then, sometimes, they develop a deep meaningful friendship. In even rarer cases, the relationship progresses to true unconditional love, which seeks the highest and best for the other person.

gerrit-klein-85300“God’s progression for relationships is just the opposite,” I said. “We are to begin with what the Bible calls agape love—seeking the highest and best not only with those we date but with everyone in our lives, and then, as the Lord leads, progress to a deepening friendship while preserving the deeply sexual expressions of love for after marriage. Besides honoring God, this progression helps couples maintain their objectivity and hear from the Holy Spirit as they seek His guidance for their future.”

I suggested Sidney read June Hunt’s book Biblical Counseling Keys on Dating, which address this progression, and many other helpful topics, in more depth. We also explored the body-soul connection, which God hardwired into sex, as Sidney read Sex and the Soul of a Woman by Paula Rinehart. Guided by this book, she and I discussed the profound emotional and spiritual impact sexual intimacy has on women, in particular, and why sex outside of marriage, regardless of one’s age, can be deeply damaging.

Sidney confided that her physical relationship with Justin already was progressing much faster than their friendship. She also realized she was paying little attention to seeking God’s highest and best for the men she was dating.

In the weeks to come, Sidney and I enjoyed many stimulating discussions about the proper focus of dating, namely “not a rabid hunt for Mr. Right, but an earnest quest to become the person God designed us to be.” In the process, I drew out a deeply held fear that Sidney was not even aware she had: the fear that, if she were to remain single, her deepest needs may never be met.

“The truth is, God has promised to meet all of your needs,” I assured her. “He may choose to meet them through a husband. But even if He doesn’t, you can count on His promises to meet your deepest needs for love, security, and significance.” I referred her to Lawrence Crabb’s book Understanding People: Deep Longings for Relationship. I reminded her of what God’s Word says: “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11).

ben-white-131958Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Henry Cloud and John Townsend  helped Sidney learn how to identify, and be, a safe person—one who is capable of entering into healthy relationships. Another excellent book by Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries in Dating, addressed many of her remaining questions about what is, and isn’t, appropriate in Christian dating relationships.

After a weekend-long “silent retreat” to focus on hearing from God, Sidney decided to take a break from dating altogether, including her relationship with Justin, in order to recalibrate. “The ground we covered during our coaching sessions has given me the tools I need to approach dating with a fresh perspective,” she said. “I have new confidence that, regardless of whether a new husband comes my way, I can trust God to be my hope and my future. And for me, that is enough!”

Coaching the Coach Tip:

Today’s media-based culture provides unprecedented opportunity for, and pressure on, Christian singles reentering the world of dating. Helping them clarify goals, identify expectations, and establish boundaries can provide invaluable support during their journey. If you have experience in that area, consider making it a coaching specialty.

Elizabeth Gaston Cunningham is an Accredited Business Communicator and Credentialed Christian Life Coach with 35 years of experience leading corporate communications and public relations in for-profit and non-profit organizations. Formerly Executive Director of Employee Communications and Ethics at financial services giant USAA, Elizabeth now serves as Special Assistant at Hope for the Heart, a worldwide biblical counseling ministry, where she assists with social media, trade books, public relations, and a variety of other communication projects.
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Journaling for the Soul

Even More Blog Graphics (24)

Excerpted with permission from Journaling for the Soul: Slow Down, Replenish, Exhale [A Handbook of Methods], by author, speaker, and life coach Deborah Haddix. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!

Deborah Haddix, ACLC

Something is missing.  Something important and necessary to the very health of our client’s soul (and often to our own).

The busyness of life has made its migration into the depths of our being, squeezing God out.  Our soul aches as it cries out for time with Him, but in the noise it is not heard.

Through the spiritual practice of Journaling for One’s Soul we can help our clients eliminate the hurry, bring quiet for hearing, and create much needed space for meeting with God.

What is Journaling for the Soul?


  • Simply defined, Journaling for the Soul is a way to connect with God at a deeper level.
  • Foundational to this discipline is the journaling process — one that invites us to record our experiences, observations, ideas, and reflection on a regular basis.
  • Journaling is a tool for soul care. Used as a spiritual discipline, it helps us grow in grace, experience truth, and discover His character.
  • The process of Journaling for the Soul strengthens other spiritual disciplines.
  • Journaling our Bible study can lead us to new insights. Combine journaling with prayer, and our prayers become more concrete which in turn facilitates better communication with our heavenly Father. Incorporated into the discipline of simplicity, journaling leads to genuine and unhindered praise and worship.
  • Journaling for the Soul is about engaging:
    • Our mind and our body as we become focused and involved.
    • Our creativity as we consider our God-wiring and discover fun and meaningful ways to meet with Him.
    • With other spiritual disciplines. For example, journaling will help you engage with the Bible text, moving you from the act of reading for information to reading for transformation.

Journaling for the Soul helps us move away from our old mindset that spiritual practices are draining obligations and helps us view them as practices that connect us to God, His grace, His energy, and His joy. It’s a tool for engaging more intentionally and consistently with God, a means for getting to know His heart (John 17:3).

As one is able to move toward this new mindset discovering methods of Soul Journaling that speak directly to their heart and draw them in, a practice of more intentional and consistent engagement with our heavenly Father will be cultivated. The soul will be nourished as it is filled with God’s grace, His energy, and His joy. Christ will be known more fully.


Deborah Haddix is a certified Life Coach, speaker, and the author of five books including Journaling for the Soul: Slow Down, Replenish, Exhale. She is a contributing author for Write Changes: Stories of Transformation Through Journaling and is on the faculty of the National Association of Christian Journal Writers. Deborah specializes in spiritual development coaching and workshop presentations. To learn more visit


Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Unrepentant and Unwilling

Blog Graphics (21)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Katie Brazelton, Ph.D., M.Div., M.A.


Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you!

Ezekiel 18:30 NLT

matthew-henry-130381Over the past several decades as a Life Purpose Coach® and Life Plan Facilitator, I’ve heard more sad stories from clients than my heart can bear sometimes. I’ve grieved, for example, with a woman who accidentally backed a car over her toddler sister years earlier. I’ve helped others whose homes and church had flooded, whose spouse had cheated, whose childhood was ripped away by sexual abuse, whose parents had moved thirty-two times, whose businesses and ministries had failed, whose brother had hanged himself, and whose child was terminally ill.

From these types of intense coaching sessions, I’ve come to understand that God can take any life story and turn it into a soul-winning testimony for his glory. In fact, my all-time favorite client is a 56-year-old woman whose most frequently-used words and expressions were the likes of, “I, me, my, mine, princess, queen bee, daddy’s girl, it’s all about me, and it’s my way or the highway.” When her pattern of pride became obvious to her in our conversations, she wept like a baby, thanked God for revealing the truth to her, and immediately asked him for forgiveness.

But no client has ever caused me more consternation than a woman whom I’ll call Sandy. I first met this married, ministry leader over the phone when she called me upon her pastor’s recommendation. He suggested she talk to me about enlarging her ministry role at church, based on my perception of God’s unique plan for her life. I was impressed by Sandy’s servant’s heart in my pre-screening interview and felt honored to accept her as a client.

The big day arrived for our first appointment, which I decided would be at my home to make the experience as lovely as possible for her. I had huge sunflowers smiling on the entryway table, an eclectic array of china preset on the dining-room table for tea and biscotti, and the drapes opened wide to capture the lake view. I was prayed up and had prayer partners covering us.

brooke-cagle-158013The doorbell rang, and as I met Sandy on the front porch, she said, “I’m so glad I’m here.” We were off to a great start in my doorway, until she blurted out, “I want to talk to you, because my daughter married beneath herself.” I was stunned. Where was the sweet Sandy? I braced myself for a tough session and once again asked God to guide me.

As she signed my guest book in the entryway, she made this announcement: “I just came from lunch at the yacht club.”

Okay, no big deal. She was probably just trying to make small talk, based on getting a glimpse of the lake outside my windows, but I did make a mental note to watch for signs of Better-Than-You Syndrome and Pay-Attention-to-Me Disease.

Off we went to the dining room table. I hadn’t even finished doctoring up my tea; we hadn’t even opened our coaching session in prayer, when out of the blue, Sandy shared with a grin, “I’m in love with a married dentist.”

Oh, man, what was I supposed to do with that?

Let me spare you the gory details about her intentions to have an affair with the dentist, with whom she’d just had lunch at the club; I’ll even spare you the two sermonettes I gave her about adultery. I used every probing question, listening skill, intercessory prayer, and exhortation I could think of, to no avail. Sandy was not budging from her stubborn disregard for God’s commandments, yet she had come seeking his will for her life. So, I did what I had to do. I moved her to the living room for a change of scenery, tempo, and tone, mainly so I wouldn’t be tempted to “guilt trip” her or to give up before God released me from the coaching session.

I was convinced that my new strategy would work. All I had to do was get her talking about God’s call on her life; then I could circle back around and calmly ask her how an affair and ensuing ministry scandal would affect God’s magnificent plans for her. I didn’t let on about my mastermind intentions, and she didn’t suspect a thing in my stealth approach. Boy, did she light up like a Christmas tree, when we discussed her One Big Thing that God called her to do. When I realized that her primary motives for wanting to know her “thing” were to satisfy her curiosity and for bragging rights, not follow- through, my intuition told me to redirect the session toward character formation. But I felt like I had her just where I wanted her with the repentance deed being all but done; soon she’d be sobbing tears of remorse in my arms–so I resolved to stay the current course.

My plan of circling back around to her affair was foiled; she never did bend, break, weep, or show any sign of concern about her emotional affair. At that point, my spirit was so grieved that I could barely contain my sorrow. I heard God asking me to stop the sham, and he called to mind the words of my personal Life Plan Facilitator, Tom Paterson, who’d written Living the Life You’re Meant to Live. Tom’s voice in my head was saying, Stop. Don’t participate in the mockery she’s making of God’s will. If she’s unwilling to walk away from her sin, she’s unwilling, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Make no apologies for ending the session now.

nordwood-themes-162462Oh Lordy Mercy, I didn’t know if I had the wherewithal to be a tough-love coach. Thoughts rushed through my mind like a raging river: Where did I go wrong as a coach? What will she tell her pastor? How will I ever explain this difficult situation to the coaches I train? She’s paid me quite handsomely! Do I owe her a refund?

I watched myself stand up tall and I heard myself say to her calmly, “Sandy, we need to end our session now. I’d be happy to suggest the name of a Christian therapist, who can help you see the spiritual danger you’re in, but I can’t help you anymore. I strongly urge you to pull yourself out of ministry immediately. If you’re willing to be honest with your pastor, I’ll help you prepare for that meeting. (Pause. Inhale. Exhale.) Let me walk you to the door.”

We parted cordially, and I never heard from her again. I’ve replayed that coaching session hundreds of times in my mind, looking for what I could have done differently, but I’m still stymied.

I pray that you’ll find countless ways to help countless clients turn their lives around for God, and I pray that you’ll have the wisdom and courage to walk away from those who are unrepentant and even unwilling to discuss truth.


Coaching the Coach Tip:

Strive to be a humble, non-judgmental, Luke 15 coach for straying sheep–a coach who cares deeply about sinners and remembers, “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10 NLT). But here’s a good rule to memorize: When a client shows no remorse for sin and is unwilling to even consider the truth, don’t continue throwing pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6 NASB). When God says, “Enough of that stubborn pride!”–refer the person to a counselor, who can take a more clinical approach about underlying causes for the client’s ungodly, rebellious behavior. And don’t let a bad experience sour you. Keep doing excellent work for the Lord with those who desire biblically-based coaching.


brazelton_katieKatie Brazelton, Ph.D., M.Div., M.A., is an ICCA Board Member and Rockbridge Seminary Board Member. She is Founder of Life Purpose Coaching Centers International®, a coach-training provider approved by ICF, CCE-BCC, and IACET to offer continuing education units. Katie is a sought-after coach, 2-Day Life Plan Facilitator, and speaker worldwide, as well as a bestselling author with eight books and three DVD coaching curricula about life purpose. (
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

From Failure to Phenomenal

Blog Graphics (20)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Lisa Gomez Osborn


Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you

Matthew 18:20, CEV


tamara-bellis-199853I’ll never forget my first coaching session with Jennifer; it was a complete disaster. At least, that’s what it felt like at the time. Jennifer, a tall, blonde, twenty-four-year-old woman, came for coaching after I had been professionally coaching for about two years. Our first session was one of the most awkward ones I have ever experienced.

Jennifer’s personality emanated an unusual standoffishness, with almost a disdain for me. I found that perplexing and intimidating. Unfortunately, I began doing everything wrong. I tried to get her approval. I tried to get her to laugh. Nothing. Finally, out of ideas, I asked her why she had come to see me, which is what I should have asked her when she first sat down.

Unbelievably, she shrugged her shoulders, and said she didn’t really know.

Okay, I thought, this is going to be the longest hour of my life! Determined to do a good job, I sat up straighter, put on my best “attentive coach” countenance and asked her the question I always ask whenever I’m completely baffled: “Will you tell me a little about yourself.”

Normally, people are good at talking about themselves, but not Jennifer. She frowned. “There’s not really much to tell.”

I waited.

Fortunately, she continued.

She told me she was a hair stylist, had flunked out of college, and now she was miserable.

At my request for more information, she said she had attended a private Catholic high school and had earned a full art scholarship to a private university. There, she explained, she was too anxious at being rebuffed by her professors to approach them when she began having academic problems and had, instead, opted to stop attending classes. Eventually she flunked her first-year courses, and her scholarship was retracted.

She then moved back home with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend, whom she said she detested. To make matters worse, she stated that she wanted to bring her mom in for our next session for relationship and communication coaching.

That revelation was a shock. I had been hoping that this session would be our first and last. Surprisingly, she made a second appointment.

“Oh, by the way,” I said as she was leaving, “here’s a book on setting boundaries in relationships that you might want to read before our next session.”

alice-hampson-5714Our second appointment was nearly as bad as our first. Before I could even say hello, she pulled the book that I had given her out of her bag and tossed it onto my desk. “I read the whole thing in one evening and didn’t learn a thing!” she said.

Oh dear, I thought. I felt like an idiot and wondered if I was intellectually inferior because I hadn’t been able to read that book in one night.

But I put on my figurative coaching hat and we began. Since this session was with Jennifer and her mother, we spent our time discussing their relationship and what they each wanted to get out of coaching. It was not pretty.

After they left, I was exhausted, discouraged, and ready to refer them to someone else.

Before our next session, I discussed the case with my own Life Coach. Truthfully, I needed help and I wanted my coach to tell me what to do! Of course, she didn’t. Instead she suggested we pray.

While we were praying, God brought a fact to my mind. I had forgotten that Jennifer’s mom had told me that she was into the New Age movement and believed in a “higher power.” This case is spiritual warfare! I thought. This idea completely shifted my thought process about Jennifer and how to proceed with her, and it reminded me of the critical urgency of taking every client before the Lord!

Over the course of the next nine sessions, Jennifer slowly began to transform before my eyes. I referred her to a psychiatrist as well, and her mom returned for two more sessions.

The changes in Jennifer were a-maz-ing! During one critical session, she mentioned that her father had been wounded in the Vietnam War. That revelation set off a chain of questions, which eventually led to us realizing that Jennifer was eligible to go to any college in the state for free!

Jennifer and her mom’s relationship also underwent dramatic change. At the beginning of our coaching sessions, they had each stated that their relationship was poor and that they couldn’t talk without fighting. The mother felt that Jennifer was a slob and didn’t help at all around the house, and Jennifer felt that her mother favored the boyfriend over their mother-daughter relationship and never wanted to spend any time with her.

During one session they made a commitment to have a mother-daughter-only date two times a month. Because Jennifer received some much-needed attention and affirmation from her mother, she began to want to help around the house; she even organized her room, the laundry room, and the entire second floor, a subject that had previously been a serious source of contention between the two.

victoria-bilsborough-232767Jennifer’s interest in art also returned. She hadn’t drawn or painted since she had flunked out of college. After coaching, she enrolled in college, began selling her artwork, and started earning straight A’s! She was elated about her returning creativity. She had even quit smoking, gone back to eating a vegetarian diet, and lost twenty-five pounds.

Another huge change was that Jennifer became less anxious. Prior to coaching, she never left home without her prescription anti-anxiety medication, Xanax, because of daily panic attacks. “You’ll never guess what!” she told me during one session. “I haven’t had a Xanax in a month! And I haven’t even bothered to refill my prescription!” She smiled from ear to ear. “I never imagined I’d be able to do without it.”

In our last session, Jennifer described an “emergency” with a friend. She had tried to contact me for help, but when she was not able to get in touch with me, she realized that she could come up with her own solution. She remembered something from the book I had loaned her on setting healthy boundaries and established some boundaries on a friendship that had been very lopsided. In doing so, she gained incredible confidence.

As she told me this, I felt like a proud mama hen. I’m a much better coach because of having my own coach. I thought this particular client was going to be disastrous for me, and I was ready to give up. It’s very likely that I’d never have been able to have the objectivity crucial to a successful coaching relationship with Jennifer if I hadn’t had my own coach. I’m so thankful for her. Had I tried to figure out this difficult client on my own, I might have missed a golden opportunity to make a difference in her life. I would not have experienced the pervasively positive influence that can be transmitted through the coaching relationship, and I would have lost out on experiencing the vital guidance that prayer exerts in every coaching session and relationship.


Coaching the Coach Tip:
Don’t give away or give up on a difficult client too soon. Contact another coach for additional perspective. Above all, remember to take the situation to the Lord in prayer, preferably with that other coach.

I now look at difficult clients differently. Instead of seeing them as draining or as a burden, I see the relationship as an opportunity for them and me to grow. They are God’s hidden treasures. I just need to separate my emotions and thoughts from theirs.

Rather than thinking I’m not coaching well enough or I’m an idiot, I need to ask God to shift my perspective and show me how I can best benefit them.


Lisa Gomez Osborn is the president and founder of Paragraphs 22 Coaching & Consulting. Lisa has worked with others for over 15 years in areas such as overcoming personal and spiritual growth obstacles, leadership development, organizational development, Christian Life Coach training, personality profiling, communication, and conflict resolution. Lisa is passionate about Christian Coaching and helping other coaches build their
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Prayer: A Tool or a Lifeline?

Blog Graphics (19)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Denise Bauman


Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB

ben-white-139141As a Christian Life Coach, I open each session with prayer. As a Christ follower, I want the Holy Spirit to do his best work in the time I have with my client. This habit can easily become just a check mark on my to-do list for each session. So how do I keep prayer as my lifeline and not merely a session opening tool?

The answer starts with my personal prayer life, which has taken on a whole new level of importance and growth in the past few years. During this time, I felt compelled to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) four times in one year. As I read about the life of Jesus, I see how important prayer was to him. It was so important that he went to the desert for forty days to fast and pray as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11. He got up early in the morning and, according to Mark 1:35, went to a scheduled, quiet place to be alone with his Father and pray. The disciples saw the importance Jesus placed on prayer and asked for prayer instruction in Luke 11:1. Seeing the importance Jesus placed on prayer and knowing my own spiritual neediness, I committed to being more like him in this regard.

During this time I had an opportunity to take part in the Cornerstone Formation Ministries training program taught by Dr. Terry Wardle. It was entitled the “Ministry of Formational Prayer.” In this training we were taught to pray expectantly, understanding God will answer if we give him a chance.

btnxjsfojtq-ben-whiteThe Bible is clear in James 4:2, ESV: “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Learning to pray expectantly transformed my spiritual and personal life. Since I’ve begun to do this, I have witnessed firsthand how God the Father communicates through prayer to one client after another on a variety of issues.

If I am in a session and I sense my client is struggling or we seem to hit a wall, I may take a minute silently to ask God for insight. I may also ask the client to ask God for an answer, and we will take a minute together in prayer, asking for an immediate answer. Many times he does. At other times, as a homework assignment, I request that clients ask God for clear direction for the next week.

These prayers can change how clients view God. I had one client change from not wanting to burden God with her problems because “He has so much to take care of already” to understanding “God does really care about my everyday life.” She now asks God about every decision. She does not want to make any changes without praying first, because she has seen what prayer can do!


Coaching the Coach Tip:

Because of the transformation of my personal prayer life, I now incorporate prayer in each coaching session. Wow! What a difference it has made. I no longer worry that I won’t have enough tools in my tool belt to help each client in their specific area of need. The Holy Spirit prompts me throughout the session (because I am in constant prayer) with ideas and options. The Holy Spirit will give my client and me the answers we need if we give him the chance. Does this mean I don’t do my homework as a coach? May it never be! I still read every day and research resources. As I pray for my clients I now ask God through prayer, to show me what my clients may need before I meet with them. So many times God does just that.

Denise Baumann has been married for more than 30 years and has four children including one with special needs. Denise has been a life coach for over 3 years and is a member of AACC and ICCA. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has a plan for our lives and I love helping my clients discover and add clarity to the plan God has for them. To contact Denise e-mail her or check out her website at
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Expanding Awareness by Understanding Essence

Blog Graphics (18)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Michael Pfau, Ed.D.


I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14, NASB

rawpixel-com-252127“I feel marginalized by my boss and coworkers,” Mary complained as we began our first coaching session. Mary was referred to me by her husband, with whom I had worked the year before. As we spoke, she mentioned that a couple of events in the prior months leading up to our conversation really got her attention and that she knew she needed to change.

The first event was a blow up she had at work with a colleague. It caught her off guard that she erupted with such anger. It also caused her great concern because she desired to be seen as someone with leadership skills and influence, a persona she had been purposely attempting to build over several years. This outburst, however, had set her back significantly. Her other concern was that she had trouble sleeping and was feeling anxiety over her career and the general direction of her life.

After she expressed these concerns, she stated that her goals for coaching were to become a better and more confident communicator. She wanted to articulate her thoughts better and be seen as a leader in the eyes of her coworkers. She desired a supervisory or management role and, having more than ten years of experience in her department, felt it was due.

As part of her personal development plan, Mary joined a Toastmasters group, began reading some good Christian books, and took some company-sponsored training. However, she still found herself internally conflicted. She mentioned feeling frustrated and helpless at her situation and wondering whether she was even in the right job.

diego-hernandez-249471One of the questions I posed to her was this: “What shows up when you show up?” I continued, “Imagine wearing a pink lightbulb on your head and when you show up in the room the environment takes on a pink hue. What changes in a room when you show up?”

As we worked around identifying Mary’s essence over several coaching calls, she realized that her presence brought warmth, energy, and acceptance. As she evaluated this new awareness, she realized that these were not the traditional qualities of a leader. She also noticed when she listened intently and asked questions in the meetings she led, that, in combination with her essence, caused a big difference. With this new awareness and her skills, she was able to guide the discussion and be seen as a leader by her peers and boss without changing who she was as a person.

In fact, here are her own words: “Michael, I wanted to tell you about my essence. My thoughts are changing about my interactions with people. I’m observing others, at work and outside, who engage with me. What I used to think was an intimate attraction from men, I’m now seeing as an attraction to my essence (warmth, energy, acceptance) and nothing more. That has helped me relax a bit with them. And a few women at work have introduced themselves to me. We talk now in the hall. One of them has stopped by my desk to talk. I’ve been invited to lunch a couple times now too. It has been fun observing this knowing what I know. Quite interesting! Thanks for introducing essence to me!”


Coaching the Coach Tip:

When a client comes for coaching who is in conflict, internally or externally, consider asking them about their essence. Most people are unaware of what shows up along with them and how others see them. As in Mary’s case, her lack of awareness skewed how she perceived others’ responses toward her. That caused her anxiety, stress, and even anger. And those feelings led her to behave in ways that were counter to her goals. By not recognizing and being comfortable with their essence, clients often attempt to live using behaviors that aren’t really authentic for them. In short, they try to be someone who they weren’t intended to be.

We see this same principle in 1 Samuel 17 when David came to the battlefield to deliver food to his brothers. When he heard Goliath’s boasting, he decided to step up and take on the challenge to defend God’s name and be Israel’s champion. In his attempt to be helpful, Saul gave David his armor to wear on the battlefield. But after David tried on the armor, he discovered it just didn’t fit him. David, at this point in his life, was a shepherd—not a warrior. He was not meant to use nor be weighed down by a sword, shield, and armor.  For this battle he needed to use his customary sling and five stones. By staying authentic to himself and obeying God, David surprised Goliath and won a great victory.

Michael Pfau, M.Ed, PCC, BCC, is Founder and President of Crossways Life Coaching, LLC, a coaching, mentoring and training business. Michael partners with financial planners to guide their baby boomer clients to create a life of purpose, passion and significance. Along with his own successful coaching practice, Michael has logged hundreds of hours as an instructor for the Professional Christian Coaching Institute and also serves as an adjunct professor for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. More about Michael at

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

When It’s Time to Leave the Nest: Moving Millennials Outward and Upward

Even More Blog Graphics (32)


I was sitting on my back porch the other morning, reading quietly while sipping on a hot cup of coffee. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of my juniper trees start to shake. All of a sudden, I saw what looked like a tiny round blob drop like a paperweight to the earth. It appeared lifeless, it exerted no movement —until right before it hit the ground, two small wings sprouted and the baby bird flew off excitedly into a nearby tree.

hakon-helberg-99985It took a second for me to realize there was even a bird’s nest in the tree, much less to determine that what I witnessed was the final moments of a baby bird’s effort to leave the nest. It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t look hopeful. In fact, everything told me that whatever it was would surely wind up as a splat at the bottom of the tree.

But it didn’t. As so many baby birds have done in the past, they all have a similar experience, a collective moment when they can no longer reside in the safe confines of the mama bird’s nest, when they must take that step into the unknown, and they must learn how to fly.

Interesting how different things have become for Millennials learning to fly today.

Recently Pew Research Center released a study stating that Millennials most popular living arrangement is living at their parent’s house at 32.1%.

Instead of cheering our children while they launch, instead of nudging them out of the nest, many parents these days appear horrified at the notion. It seems our ideal is to do everything we can to delay the move, to minimize the risk, and to make our Millennial’s transition to adulthood as seamless and as secure as possible. To remove any uncertainty, any challenges, and as a result, any growth.

How can we as parents know when our love for our children isn’t loving at all? How can we give them the greatest chance for success in life? And how can we know when it’s time for our adult children to move out? Here are three signs that it is time for your Millennial to leave the nest and learn to fly.


When They Stop Struggling

Growth is always a struggle. It’s not supposed to be easy. Developmentally, this is where resilience is cultivated, where our identity, our confidence in our competence, and our purpose in life are forged.

Participation trophies don’t give kids a strong self-concept. Doing kid’s chores for them so they can sleep in doesn’t produce a strong, developed character capable of meeting their own physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. Only struggle, yes struggle prepares them to lean into life as well as their relationships in the midst of the storm without abandoning others when the going gets tough.

rawpixel-com-236143Malcom Gladwell offered, A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle.

Albert Bandura described that, In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.

So why do we parents remove every aspect of struggle from our children’s lives? Why do we desire for our children to remain fragile, weak and underdeveloped?

We need to begin seeing struggle as a gift—a good gift at that. When they are not struggling, when there is no external battle for forward momentum and independence, it is time for our Millennials to leave. Here are a few signs:

  • When they spend more time on the couch than we do, they are not struggling.
  • When they are not actively putting together and implementing a plan for school or work, they are not struggling.
  • When most of their day is spent sleeping, but their social life in the evening is busier than ever, they are definitely not struggling.
  • When they give you their grocery list and/or bills to pay, most likely they are not struggling.
  • When they don’t have money to pay for rent or the cell phone bill, but they have plenty of money for manicures, dinners out with friends, new clothes, and other luxuries, they are not struggling.


When They Stop Growing

From the time we are born until the time we die, we should be growing. We were created to grow. In some way, we should be moving, learning, stretching, and healing whether we are 5 yrs old or 50 yrs old. Yet many Millennials today prioritize enjoyment in life over growth. When they are not actively growing, they become sapped of energy and creativity, drained of the very curiosity that would engage them, focus them, or give them passion for something that could become their purpose in life.

Purpose does not come upon us externally as a lightning bolt. Purpose is only cultivated within.

murray-blogHome should not become a breeding ground for stagnation. Home should provide fertile soil for our adult children to grow. If we do not see them actively growing, then it is time for them to go. A new environment with all of its struggles and challenges is most likely the perfect environment for them to persevere, to overcome, to build purpose and to thrive.

American psychologist, Abraham Maslow stated, In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.

The question becomes, do we want our children to thrive, or are we more interested in them needing us? Do we get our sense of self as good parents by doing everything for our children, and for providing for all of their needs? Do we feel guilty that because we have been successful in life that we owe our children a certain lifestyle?   Are we afraid that if we don’t provide that our children, they will not figure things out?

Here are a few signs…

  • When it’s clear your child isn’t getting anywhere at work, they are not growing.
  • When your child has no definite educational, financial, or career goals with specific timelines, they are not growing.
  • When your child hasn’t offered to mow the lawn, do the dishes, clean the house, or run errands, they are not growing.
  • When your child isn’t developing healthy patterns and/or routines for eating, exercise, spiritual growth, or relationships, chances are they are not growing.
  • When your child continually demands their rights and freedoms while ignoring any responsibility or accountability, they are probably not growing.
  • When your child’s bank account does not increase by at least the monthly rent cost of a room or an apartment they would have rented, they are not growing.


When They Stop Dreaming

 Many of our life’s accomplishments began as a dream. I remember dreaming as a teenager and young adult of everything I longed for in life. I dreamed of career aspirations, I dreamed of marriage and family life, experiences, travel, and a million other aspirations. Somewhere in the process of dreaming, opportunities to invest in my dreams usually came alive.

If our adult children are not actively dreaming, actively imagining what their lives could be, they will not be in a position to connect with opportunity should it arrive. They will feel uncertain, doubtful, overwhelmed. They will not have the active, accelerated psychological energy to move when a door opens and to engage in the kinds of activities that will help them make their dreams come true.

dayne-topkin-76099When they are not dreaming, they are merely existing, and they will never muster the emotional energy it takes to leave. And no, gaming is not the same as dreaming. They need to be spending more time dreaming about their long-term goals than they do on immediate wants or needs.

Anais Nin said that, Dreams are necessary to life.

Victor Hugo also stated that, Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.

If they are not actively invested in planting emotional, financial, and occupational seeds for their future, it is time to leave. If they are not intentionally pursuing their dreams, they will never move beyond their dependency on us into independent adults.

Here are a few signs:

  • When their only dream is what you will be making for dinner, they are not dreaming.
  • When their dreams consist of what new video game, what new outfit, or what new vacation they want, they are not dreaming.
  • When most of their time, energy, and/or income is spent on entertainment, they are not dreaming.
  • When their greatest plans are about what they want right now instead of what they want for their lives later, they are not dreaming.
  • When they look to you to dream for them or provide their dreams to them, they are not dreaming.


We as parents love our children. We want them to succeed in life to build a bright and hopeful future. We must get out of the way.

Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us, Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…

We must recognize when our own emotional issues are preventing us from taking the steps we need to take to help our Millennials take steps into their future, and get help to deal with our own emotional issues.

We can help them. We can love them. Most of all, we can pray for them. We can lovingly nudge them out of our living room and into their future. We can. We must. They are counting on us!



Lisa Murray, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University.  In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Connect with Lisa on Facebook: Lisa Murray, author, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Paying Attention to Your Life

Blog Graphics (17)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


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?

jeremy-wong-298986I 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?

andrea-natali-267263What 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 StoopDavid 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.
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Gratitude, the Healing Attitude

Even More Blog Graphics (25)

Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!

Linda Knasel, M.A.


alexander-mils-instagram-com-alexandermils-146750My clients have a lot of stress and anxiety, and I’m learning that their attitudes play a huge role in this. I believe their attitudes are dramatically impacted by America’s culture. We are a society driven to achieve, keep up with the Joneses, and acquire bigger and better things. Many kids today come from two-income households and have more material possessions than previous generations. People are overextending their personal resources and yet are still driven to achieve more. They think they want more for themselves and their children, but they aren’t exactly sure why.

History has proven that increased prosperity does not always equal increased satisfaction. As my clients are caught up in the cycle of materialism, they find themselves dealing with insurmountable relationship conflict, anguish, hurt and bitterness. Most of the time they don’t realize this is caused by their underlying mind-set or attitude.

Scripture has a term for this; it’s called “covetousness.”

If I suspect covetousness is the source of my clients’ stress and anxiety, I stop and ask myself the following questions: Why are they pursuing what they want? Are they headed in the right direction? What’s their attitude toward achieving their desired goal? Are their attitudes healthy and productive, or are they destructive?

If my clients are seeking to grow based on a selfish desire, greed, or materialism, then I don’t believe it’s in their best interest if I coach them to achieve more.

jamie-street-319048For instance, Adriana came to me and was upset because she wasn’t as popular as some of her friends. She had just spent more than $300 buying bathing suits to look cute on the beach and gain attention from the guys and be popular. She’d incurred major bills for highlights, makeup, lotions, clothes, and the latest shoes and bags.

As a coach and licensed counselor, when a deep seeded issue like covetousness is revealed, I have to decide whether I can move my client forward using coaching or counseling. Sometimes coaching is all that’s needed, while other times counseling practices are necessary to help a client resolve underlying difficulties.

When I decide to continue coaching the client who is dealing with materialism, I have found success in helping them focus on gratefulness and contentment. When clients become grateful and content with God and His provisions, they become more peaceful and less anxious. Clients who are able to replace stress with gratitude end up being less self-absorbed and prideful, and more thankful for those around them. Appreciative clients make better choices and enjoy more positive relationships.

In Adriana’s case, she began to learn to thank God for the things she had and how to recognize the giver of these gifts. We worked on how to show gratefulness and how the lifestyle she was living was robbing her of the true joy of fellowship with God and the friendships that God placed in her life. We worked on developing some time for her to rest and count her blessings and reduced the time-robbers that were holding her back from true joy. We discussed what her material choices were bringing her and what she really wanted. We then set goals that would really move her in a direction that would bring her success based on solid biblical principles.


Coaching the Coach Tip:

aaron-burden-90144 How do we coach to help our clients feel grateful to God? One technique I’ve used is a thirty-one-day gratitude journal. On the left-hand side of an open journal, I ask my clients to list the three big stresses that are impacting their day. Then I ask them to pray and give these situations to God, followed by reading a chapter from the book of Proverbs that matches the day of the month. While reading from Proverbs, clients look for God’s wisdom that addresses to one of the three stressful situations and then apply the principle(s) that come(s) to light. That evening, on the opposite, right-hand side of the open journal, they list the blessings they’ve noticed throughout the day. Depending on their circumstances, they normally do this for a total of thirty-one days.

The gratitude journal exercise helps my clients focus on the fine and good things God has to offer rather than the stresses in life. In addition, it allows the Spirit of God to move their mind-sets from worry, grumbling, murmuring and complaining to seeing blessings and being grateful.

Once my clients have a chance to focus on what they are grateful for, I can help them problem-solve the real issues that are nagging them. After seeing how much God loves and cares for them, they gain a proper perspective and focus.

The gratitude journal is one way coaches can help their clients reduce stress caused by misguided desires. As my clients seek God and trust Him for insights, they are driven more by God and less by the pressures of society. I’ve been amazed witnessing how God uses a simple journal to change the attitudes of my clients and bring contentment into their lives.

Linda Knasel–M.A., L.P.C., is a nationally board certified coach and counselor. She lives in the Midwest and is married with two children. Linda is CEO of Walking Towards Solutions and G.R.O.W., and an independent contractor for Desert Streams Christian Counseling. Linda has taught at several colleges and universities including: Cornerstone University, Western Michigan University, University of Phoenix and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She is an active member of the American Christian Counseling Association and International Christian Coaching Association.

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment

Stonecutting or Cathedral Building?

Blog Graphics (16)


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Karen Porter


A well-known and often repeated story about construction goes like this. A traveler came across three stonecutters. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. The traveler asked the first, “What are you doing?”

The stonecutter answered, “I am cutting a stone!” The traveler asked the second the same question.

“I’m cutting this stone to be sure it is square and uniform,” he answered.

The traveler turned to the third stonecutter who seemed the happiest of the three. “What are you doing?” he asked.

The stonecutter replied, “I am building a cathedral.”


Instead of working with stonemasons, I coach aspiring writers and speakers. My goal is for each client to learn the craft of writing so that writing well becomes natural and comfortable. I work with speakers to not only develop interesting and compelling content but also to improve the use of gestures, facial expressions, voice control, and body language. Along the way, we work on life issues, set goals and dream big dreams. My greatest joy is to encourage a client to the point of seeing his or her eyes light up with hope and anticipation or to shine a new light on a difficult situation or to watch a dream take shape.

devan-freeman-2168For instance, my client Lesli is a consistent and meticulous woman who never gives up her dreams even though life has handed her some big struggles. Family issues, the death of her mother, and infertility could have left her without joy or faith.

Lesli’s dream of having children never came true. She did all the right things, followed doctor’s orders, and pursued every medical option. Even though she is past the traditional age for childbearing, she believes in miracles such as happened to Sarai, Hanna, and Elizabeth in the Bible. Her faith is strong in the face of disappointment.

Throughout her journey, a close relationship with God has helped her deal with well- meaning, but hurtful, conversations with people who don’t really understand her struggle.

Before she came to me for coaching, Lesli had already begun a ministry to other women who are experiencing the pains of barrenness. Her group, Dancing upon Barren Land, is a vibrant ministry of one of the nation’s largest churches, and more groups are forming in other cities. As she worked with this group of hurting women, she discovered the power and comfort and hope of praying Scripture. We began the process of putting these personal, beautiful, expressive prayers into a booklet format. We believe a woman who experiences the disappointment and frustration of childlessness will benefit from a purse-sized volume of Scripture-prayers when she feels angry or sad or when grief, jealousy, and fear overwhelm her. Lesli’s prayers were authentic and powerful to other women because she lives in their same situation. All she needed from me was a little technical help with the writing craft and the flow of thought.

Still, I felt something about Lesli’s journey was missing. Early one morning I spent a long time in prayer over Lesli and asked God to show me how to help her move forward to the greatness He had designed for her.

A few days later, we met to determine the next steps and future of the project. I sat back and observed Lesli as she read some of her work aloud. I saw a beautiful woman who appeared to have her act together on the surface. As she read, I heard the ache of her heart. Her disappointment and angst were tangible. I could feel her pain as her reaction to infertility hurt her to the core. Yet there was something else coming through the words and the way she expressed herself. I saw hope and peace.

I considered all the things I knew about her and how she worked through her discouragement and loss to find a way to help others. I remembered the months she worried over her mother’s illness and her sorrow upon her mother’s death. I recalled how the support of her five best friends (whom she calls her “five smooth stones”) carried her through the ordeal. I reflected on her strong marriage and the entrepreneurial adventures she and her husband have embarked upon. I knew she was becoming a gourmet cook. I recalled that she and her friends had recently taken a girl’s trip to New York City to explore and enjoy the sights. She had also shown me some new materials on teaching etiquette to children and corporate executives.

And then something amazing dawned on me—the coach.

ian-schneider-39679She had already found the key to living with disappointments and pain. She kept moving and living and working and ministering even though her dreams were on hold. She didn’t wallow in her pain; she lived while she waited.

As she finished reading, she looked up to find me smiling broadly.

“What?” she asked.

“Your prayers are beautiful, and I know they will be helpful to women who read your book, but I think you have something far more important to give to your readers. You need to write a chapter called: ‘Living Life to the Full while You Wait.’”

Lesli hadn’t thought much about her accomplishments. She had considered her disillusionment and frustrations as failure and her goal was to cope, but her greater legacy is her ability to find joy, purpose, and influence despite her regret and disappointment.

Instead of merely surviving, she has blossomed into an encourager and inspiration to others. She didn’t see it until I pointed it out to her that day. And I didn’t see it until I stepped back from the details of coaching writing skills to see the big picture of her life.

Since then an amazing thing has happened to Lesli. She has new energy and vision for her ministry, but she also has begun to dream even bigger dreams beyond her original ideas.

As a coach, I didn’t have a magic formula to help Lesli. In fact, I was focused on the skills, techniques, and methods of writing. I was looking at Lesli, the stonecutter, if you will. But when I prayed and took time to observe and put all the pieces together, a new idea appeared. I saw Lesli, the cathedral builder. When I communicated the idea to her, she was able to catch that vision of herself too and she was inspired and encouraged.

Coaching Lesli (and all my other clients) is more about developing life skills than writing or speaking expertise. Lesli still holds to her dream of bearing a child, and she still offers comfort and understanding to women. Now, however, she also encourages women to live to the fullest extent while waiting, to never let disappointment rule their lives, but to move forward with joy.

Coaching the Coach Tip:

Whether we coach life skills, decision making, career moves, writing, speaking, business skills, spiritual disciplines, financial competence, family dynamics, or goal setting, it is possible for us, as coaches, to focus too hard on the program and blueprint we have set out for our client. We can become a slave to the rubric, the step-by-step plan, we have laid out. We get caught up in the process of mere stonecutting.

Sometimes coaching is about listening. To the client. To God. And sometimes coaching is about stepping back and putting all the puzzle pieces together to get a new perspective and panoramic view of our clients as cathedral builders. As a coach I am learning not only to focus on the practical, mechanical techniques but also to take a long, broad look at the whole person. With a lot of prayer, God shows up with the right answer and lights the way for success. He is the God of the big picture. The heavens are His throne and He sees the big picture. He sees the cathedral.


Karen Porter
is an international speaker, author, and coach. She helps aspiring writers and speakers develop messages and careers. She and her husband, George, own Bold Vision Books a full-service traditional publishing house. They live near Houston, Texas, with their peaceful Great Pyrenees, Isabelle. Find more information about Karen at  and

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia 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

Posted in Coaching Blog | Leave a comment