Monday, June 1, 2009

Christian Life Coaches...

partners or pariah to the church?

Inspired by yet another provocative Twitter post/Blog teaser, I’m compelled to respond to the question posed by “Life Coaching Trends” on April 27th ( questioning the validity of the profession of Christian Life Coaching, it’s role in the church and whether this is a service that is fee-worthy or if it should be provided for free as part of a ministry.

All fair and relatively benign questions that can all be answered with a firm “it depends.”

What challenged me were the two responders’ comments. In summary, they expressed (angrily) that anyone who would charge for or even provide such a service was “scum” because God is our Life Coach and he doesn’t charge a dime. Reading the Bible, going to church and praying are free and that’s all we need.

As a credentialed Biblical Counselor and certified Professional Life Coach … who also happens to be a Christian, I have some strong feelings on the topic.

I strongly agree that there is no better Life Coach for us than God. I strongly agree that the Bible is the best resource to find the answers to life’s questions. I strongly agree that going to church and praying should be all we need… and it’s free!

I strongly disagree that every average person in need (or even every Christian in need) knows how to utilize those amazing God-given, free resources without any guidance whatsoever. Isn’t that part of what pastoral staff do for us? Teach us, guide us, focus us on Jesus when we stray from the Truth?

An old pastor of mine once told me that a single pastor cannot effectively minister to more than 25 people at a time (that’s why small group ministries are so important). This is an opportunity for Life Coaches to be of value in a church setting. Of course in that kind of circumstance, the lay helper should be a “Christian” Life Coach to ensure the guidance given is aligned with the church’s beliefs… and no, I would not charge for these services.

The bigger flaw in the posed questions and responses is the assumption that the “Christian” in Christian Life Coaching is about who is being coached or where they’re being coached as opposed to foundation from which they coach – a foundation of biblical principles that shape the coaching practices to provide life tools that keep our eyes on Jesus.

Personally, I work in a secular profession – not in a church – and provide a lot of coaching and counseling to business managers and leaders. Having a Christian foundation to my Life Coach training allows me to integrate Christian principles when coaching executives through difficult business decisions and, from time to time, has opened windows to "witness" in an otherwise godless environment… and yes, I do get paid for that.

Praise God for Christian Life Coaching and the opportunities to use it for His glory... in any setting!!!

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ML Yost said...

Comments posted to Linkedin:

Thank you for pointing us to this blog. I personally have been struggling with the issue of ministry vs. business. I am a Christian Life Coach ... and Christian is purposely in my title because I base all of my coaching on God's Word - that is the power. And the clients I have worked with are challenged with truly believing God's Word as truth ... thus, I am able to be an extension of the church and help others see themselves as Christ sees them. This requires much one on one time with individuals, to love them as Christ loves them and to help them overcome the obstacles, one step at a time based on God's Word. But, frequently people are not able to pay or don't feel as if they should have to pay for coaching. Any wisdom in this area is appreciated - so thank you for pointing out the blog.

God's love and blessings,

Posted by Michelle Lord Samples
Linkedin Group: Light My Path Christian Life Coaching

Janice said...

Thank you for sharing this blog posting. Whatever I do thru my church, is part of our career transition ministry and my way of giving back and sharing my God given gifts and talents with those in need, and whatever I do thru my church is my way of serving Christ, to be His hands and feet to those in need. Outside the church, I am still a Christian and incorporate my Christian values and principles and Biblical perspective into my work as a Career and Life Coach, I get paid. I work with individuals from a Biblical view instead of a world view, that is the only difference between my "Christian" coaching and that of a secular coach. Instead of asking 'what do your instincts tell you?" I ask, "When you pray and sit quietly meditating on God's Word and lift your question to God, how does He guide you? Let's look at scriptures about the situation to gain a Biblical perspective." etc. There are many wonderful and effective "secular" Career Coaches. When I career coach, I use many of the same techniques and tools and strategies and invest the same amount of time and energy and personal interest in my clients. I also use many of the same assessments to determine strengths and skills, and we write a resume and practice interviewing, just as a secular coach would. I also use a "Spiritual Gifts" assessment, unlike a secular coach, to take a look at how they can use their God given gifts and talents and we read scriptures, one particularly in career coaching Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them." As a Christian coach, whether I am coaching a person in career transition or improving their work performance, I am a professional and I am Christian. And, I get paid as a professional. And sometimes, the Holy Spirit guides me to offer pro bono so I let Him lead. I can not take my faith out of my profession. Thank you for the post.


Posted by Janice LaVore, CCLC
"Helping people find rewarding careers"

Unknown said...

Thank you for showing this article. And thank you.... everyone for your input. I am getting ready to do a powerpoint presentation to a group of school teachers.This presentation is on coaching because we are starting a career coaching program for our Christian students. I find this article and your comments better equipping me for any negative response.May God bless you as HE has blessed me through you,

Beverly Sivert

Carl Dierschow said...

For me, the distinction is this: If you're doing coaching (or any other activity for your church) on a volunteer basis, then you're significantly limited for how much time you can spend on it - because you also need to make a living. If you're paid, then you can devote much more time, because now it's your primary career.

Another thing to consider is the mental impact it has on your clients. I see many cases where something that's "free" is also perceived as minimal value - something I struggle with when doing unpaid coaching inside my company. The way I handle that is to establish a very prominent price point: "The market value for this service is about $150 a month. If we aren't creating that kind of value for the company, then we shouldn't be spending the time and effort."

But there is a perceptual barrier that a paid contribution somehow has more inherent value than unpaid - spend some time praying over that quandary.

Anonymous said...

Linkedin Group Discussion Board "Coaching Zone" -

I enjoyed reading the post and comments on it! I am a Christian Life Coach and it is a big dilemma charging fees for what the church views as volunteer work... But, I feel it is no different than a pastor, secretary, or any other staff member. We also see that there are many other business professionals who market to Christians, such as, counselors, attorneys, accountants, etc. We are bringing a service to them that is rooted in the Word of God.

Audrey Cole
Owner, Chrisitan Life Coach & Trainer at Woman 2 Woman LIFE Coaching


Lauren and Audrey,

Regarding the original blog post cited by Lauren, three thoughts come to mind, one secular, one pragmatic,and one Biblical.
1. Secular. Just because someone has pre-existing knowledge of a certain body of information doesn't automatically mean that person can rely solely on self to get the most from that pre-existing knowledge.

Tiger Woods probably knows more about golf than anyone else on the tour today, player or caddy. Yet he pays a coach to keep him focused on the elements of his swing.

2. Pragmatic. Very often, people value services in inverse proportion to the cost. The reasoning is that something they get for free is consciously or unconsciously perceived as less valuable, useful, effective than something we pay a fair price for, Human nature.

3. Biblical. I can't cite book, chapter and verse, but in several of his epistles, Paul refers to his "right" to charge for his ministering and "boasts" that he chooses not to charge but instead to ply his tent maker's trade to earn his keep in the communities he serves.

Chris LaPara, RCC
Owner, Coach Up!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your perspective.
I agree with the comment you made regarding Paul... I have volunteered in the local church since I was about 13 yrs. old. I always will. I have been a small group leader, small group coach, small group coordinator, pianist, cleaning person, secretary, Precept leader, and women's ministry leader. I list all of that to say that I agree with serving the Lord without expecting pay. I've done it because I desire to serve Him. There is nothing more valuable in this world to me than that of which has been sown into me by those who have given their time and effort on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ...
My Christian life coaching service is to Christian women who desire life coaching from a biblical perspective. Much of what is available today is rooted in "new age" philosophy. Since that is NOT my belief system, I desire to bring biblical truth into a coaching relationship that I have with clients. I help them focus on spiritual disciplines and aligning their life with the Word of God in helping them reach their goals. For that matter, their goals may even change once we align them with God's Word...

Audrey Cole


Wow, you are busy in your church. I've led a small faith-sharing group for about 10 years, and have been a lector for longer than that. Recently I added the role of Eucharistic Minister.

Thanks for making the clarification and drawing the distinction between ministering directly and coaching based on Biblical truths and wisdom. Are you familiar with Larry Burkett's book, "Business By the Book"?

Since you work primarily with Christian women, I'm guessing you don't get much resistance to the source of your coaching content.

In the context of today's political correctness obsession, you never know who is going to become "offended" if you link a suggested course of action or an alternative perspective to a Biblical principle or passage. So what I do when the circumstances warrant it is offer the course of action or perspective without the reference of linkage When the client accepts it as relevant and workable and commits to taking action, I'll ask if they know where/how I came up with the approach. Usually, they won't know. That's when I'll tell them it's Biblical and suggest they explore other "practical" solutions in the Bible.

Yes, it's a little disingenuous, but the impact on their understanding, visible in their facial expression and responses, tells me they've had a paradigm shift. And that means they will be more receptive going forward.


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