Coaching & Counseling

I have spent far more of my professional career providing counseling rather than coaching, but I have to say that (as much as they seem to overlap) I far more enjoy the nuance of coaching and they are distinctly different approaches in the "helping" disciplines. Likewise, I've spent many more years providing secular counseling, versus Christian counseling, despite the fact that I was a Christian at the time. The idea that counselor - or coach - happens to be a Christian (or is providing help to Christians) does not distinguish their practice or methodologies as "Christian Counseling" or "Christian Coaching."

Counseling vs. Coaching

My first "counselor" job was back in '91, but by today's definition, the approach would have more closely aligned with a "coaching" practice. Boiled down to it's simplest form, counseling looks back while coaching looks forward.

Counseling is more problem-focused - exploring the root cause (past) of feelings to arrive at acceptance and resolution with the patient or client in a subordinate role. Coaching is more solution-focused - identifying behaviors (present) and outcomes (future) and creates more of a partnership to achieve the desired goals.

If someone is in counseling, it could create a perception that something's wrong with them. For many, the "something's wrong" is less about them and more about their circumstances. Many people don't want to admit they have problems in their life.

Life coaching on the other hand, does not carry this stigma. Life coaching is all about moving forward, taking action and accountability. People receive results a lot faster when they learn to act on their own behalf, rather than if they spend countless hours re-hashing the past on a counselor's couch.

Secular vs. Christian

What defines life coaching (or couseling) as "Christian life coaching" is about the foundation from which one coaches, not about whether the coach themselves is a Christian, the people they are coaching are Christian or the venue is Christian (like in a church). It's a foundation of biblical principles that shape the coaching practices to provide life tools that keep our eyes on Jesus.

Secular coaching is humanistic and relies on the client's self-imposed goals. Christian coaching is Christ-centered. Within Christian coaching, there is a three-way relationship between client, coach and Holy Spirit. Secular coaching involves a two-way relationship between coach and client.

Christian Life Coaching is about helping to set and achieve Godly goals, getting results, sharing insights and inspirations, applying proven truths from Scripture, building testimonies of God's faithfulness, learning how to love the way Christ loved and coping with issues like health, money and relationships in a way that always points back to Jesus.

God wants us to thrive "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes it's difficult to see God's plan for our lives by ourselves. That's where a Christian life coach can help. Christian coaching is based on the foundation that God empowers and enables you to be all that He destined you to be.

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Philippians 2:13

Why Work with a Life Coach?

People usually begin working with a life coach because they need some professional assessment, direction and motivation. Good coaches specialize in helping people with certain areas of their lives.

Just like athletic coaches, we coaches are not all the same. You wouldn't choose a little-league coach to help you fine-tune your golf game! (Did you know that Tiger Woods still uses a coach?) Some coaches are experienced in personal financial issues, career coaching, health and fitness coaching, and many other areas.

My areas of specialty have long been in executive coaching, performance coaching, career coaching, image coaching, communication and relationship development... but about 8 years ago, God showed me that I didn't need to keep a wall up between my business life and my spiritual life through an unexpected opportunity to witness at work.

That event inspired me to go back to school to get some formal Biblical tools to blend what I already had in my Coaching and Counseling tool kit which ultimately resulted in my BCBC credentials (Board Certified Christian Counselor) and later my MCLC credentials (Master Christian Life Coach). In addition to my more "corporate" coaching disciplines, I have also completed studies and develop a coaching and counseling "niche" in the areas of:
  • Marriage and Family Relationships
  • New Generation Parenting
  • Children and Teenagers
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Loss, Grief and Trauma
  • God-centered Finances and Debt-free Living
Coaching and counseling are biblical. The Bible, time and again, tells us to seek only the counsel of other Christians. But being Christian isn't enough to be designated as a Christian Counselor or Christian Life Coach. If you are seeking the help of a Life Coach or Counselor, make sure that the "Christian" part is foundational to their work with you, intricate to their process and always guides the path taken to achieve Godly goals and outcomes.

I wrote a post back in June where I talked about God being the ultimate Life Coach, and hands down, He is. But not every average person in need (or even every Christian in need) knows how to find God's will in their challenge without any guidance whatsoever. Sometimes you're just too close to it to see it. In many cases, that's what we might turn to pastoral staff for... teach us, guide us, focus us on Jesus when we stray from the Truth. A Christian Life Coach or Christian Counselor can be a partner in that process as well.

"Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9