We weren't meant to do life alone. Without a good team — and a good coach — we're left with little direction or guidance.
Many of us have believed the lie of the self-made man or woman. But in order for us to become our best selves, we need a quality support network to challenge, affirm, and empower us.
I just finished up my year of being a part of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). Although I'm not a vocational youth minister, Mark Oestreicher was kind enough to allow me to be a part of his cohort.
It was the best professional and personal development decision I've made in a long time. Maybe ever.
I thought I'd sit in a lot of long meetings that would be informative, but relatively boring. I should've known better.
I was blown away by times of teaching, prayer, and personal sharing. I connected with the other ten members of this group in ways that I've seldom done with other groups.
I made lifelong friends. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams and walk more confidently in my identity. Oh, and I learned a few cool things about youth culture and ministry.
Everyone should pursue some kind of professional coaching program. Here's why:
Good coaching challenges you
This group called me out when I was wrong or asked more of me when they knew I was holding back.
I learned that I can be arrogant and dismissive from this group. I learned that I still need to grow in my inner life and that while I know a thing or two, I don't know everything.
I was challenged to be humble, open, and honest with others who are different from me.
Good coaching affirms you
The first time we met, someone asked me what my dream was.
“I guess it's to be a writer,” I said, questioning myself.
“That's ridiculous,” someone said. “You already are a writer.”
I'm not a big sports guy. I was on the golf team in high school for a year and was in a lot of spelling bees. That's the extent of athletic, competitive involvement.
When I did do anything remotely athletic, I sensed that the coach was embarrassed by me. In fact, he occasionally would say so. It made me never want to try. So I didn't.
In this group, conversely, I learned to believe things about myself that were already true. And I started living into them. This blog is a direct result of my involvement in the YMCP. There's no other way around it.
That's what good coaching does.
Good coaching empowers you
Perhaps my favorite part about this group was the “confession” time.
Now, this is not what you may be thinking. Clear your mind of images of sitting in a dark cathedral confessing your sins to a disinterested priest.
Every time we met, we would circle up our chairs, look each other in the eyes, and whoever had something they wanted to talk about, they would share.
We shared triumphs and disasters in our lives. Sometimes, we gave each other advice. Other times, we shared a moment of silence together. Deep dark secrets were divulged, and beautiful healing happened.
This kind of openness allowed us to feel safe enough to begin making important changes in our lives. As a result, we did things we never would have dreamed of this year.
That's what a good coaching group does. They help you do your job better by first changing you. I love how we did it — collaboratively and in community. It was powerful.
If you can find something like the coaching program I did in your own town (or even if you have to travel far to find one), I heartily recommend doing it. It's well worth any investment of time or money you spend.
There are several mentoring and coaching groups that I know of around the U.S. and world (which I'll share in another post soon), but I'd love to first hear from you.
Have you ever done any professional or personal coaching? Do you know of any groups that are worth being a part of? Share your experience in the comments.
*Photo credit: Jeff Weese (Creative Commons)