July 20, 2022

Are You Hitting a Spiritual Wall?
If you are feeling a bit out-of-step with your faith you are not alone. We are sitting in a space where the effects of the events from the last couple of years are lingering in our everyday lives, including the church and our spiritual well-being.  

Written By Gary Reinecke

ICF Master Certified Coach, Resource Designer, Mission Strategist : InFocus

A shadow of spiritual doldrums rolled in during the pandemic and seems to have hung around. Headlines crowded with war, suffering, shortages, rising interest and prices…well, it piles on. It’s as if we are in an extended state of Spiritual June Gloom. 

Liminal Space

“The gap created by the dissolution of the old and the yet-to-emerge new is what we are calling liminal space. It is a place of disequilibrium. Visually, it can be pictured at the moment when a trapeze performer lets go of one bar and waits in midair to connect with another.”

“…liminality is like hanging in midair until it becomes clear to us what we are to grab. A place where we are caught betwixt and between, liminal space is psychologically and spiritually significant because it is where real transformation can take place.”

The Discerning Heart

The Spiritual In-Between

liminal space

In my tradition, and perhaps yours, the idea of liminal space was never explained nor even mentioned. However, I believe most people will experience this at some point in their lives. 

It often becomes evident when a new phase of life begins: graduations, marriage, children, death of a loved one, career or vocational changes, etc. For me, it has been the convergence of multiple events occurring at the same time: an empty nest, a relationship with a spiritual director, and an unanticipated home improvement project. It has been quite the adjustment moving into this new phase. 

If you are familiar with Bobby Clinton’s work and the Leadership Timeline, one of his theories is that few leaders finish well. And I think I understand that now better than ever. Stuff happens!

There Are Stages of Faith

Based on my limited understanding of Spiritual Direction and my 30+ years experience in coaching, the primary difference between coaching and spiritual direction is that  spiritual direction seeks to help the directee discover new insights about God, about themselves (the directee), and situations for which the directee is seeking guidance.  

Coaching is about discerning those insights through the Holy Spirit and taking action or embracing a new mindset.

Functionally, the two disciplines bleed into each other, but the primary distinguishing factor of coaching is to help leaders take action.  

What is the first step in coaching someone in their spiritual formation?  

If you are using a coach approach with someone in their spiritual formation, it is helpful to have a framework that illustrates the different phases of development. Many, many people teach and write on this topic, but an excellent read on the phases of development is The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich. This framework delves into the intricacies of each phase and provides helpful insights around the challenges and strengths of development. 

6 Stages of Development in Spiritual Formation

Different authors might use different terms, but the concepts are the same. Here are the six stages of faith:

spiritual formation

Most Christians are familiar with  Stage 2, Discipleship (Learning) and Stage 3, The Active Life (Serving).  However, there are four more stages of development! 

What separates stage 3 from 4 is “THE WALL”. THE WALL is where the disequilibrium of liminal space is most pronounced. This is one place where a coach (or spiritual director) can be most helpful.   

7 Tips to Coach People in their Spiritual Formation

  1. Be settled in your own soul
  2. Create a quiet, uncluttered environment 
  3. Adopt a non-judgemental attitude
  4. Take on a posture of indifference
  5. Be compassionate
  6. Use listening and silence as an opportunity to allow the other person to process
  7. Ask powerful questions to help the other person reflect deeply

These 7 tips can be applied to coaching in general. Speaking from personal experience, I believe this to be even more critical in coaching for spiritual formation. 

Are you hitting THE WALL?

As I reflect on my own journey, it has been life-giving to have a spiritual director during this season. In reality, I do not believe I could have navigated this season well without his help. Without another person to help me process and reflect on the work of God in my life, I would have floundered. One insight he has shared with me is that very few make it through THE WALL. Clinton’s research supports this idea and speculates that only about 30% finish well!

Finishing Spiritually Well

Here are some closing thoughts from Clinton to encourage you and those you coach to finish well!

  1. Maintain a personal vibrant relationship with God right up to the end.
  2. Maintain a learning posture and learn from various kinds of sources—life especially.
  3. Manifest Christ-likeness in character as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
  4. Live out Truth in your life so that the convictions and promises of God are seen to be authentic.
  5. Leave behind one or more ultimate contributions.
  6. Walk with a growing awareness of a sense of destiny and see some–or all–of it fulfilled.

May it be said of you and those you coach through their spiritual formation.

Resources

Are you looking to take your coaching to the next level? 

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The Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack combines the best in coach training resources with wisdom from ICF Certified Master Coach, Dr. Gary Reinecke and Coaching Pioneer, Dr. Bob Logan.

  • Assess for your strengths and areas for improvement
  • Create a custom action plan for your development as a coach
  • Implement proven strategies for lasting change
  • Connect with a coach-mentor and peer coaches

Register today and receive 10% off! LEARN MORE HERE.

Photo by Варвара Курочкина

Cover Photo by Pixabay

That was a great coaching moment!

Most coaching assumes a formalized coaching relationship with a beginning, a middle, and an end, with clear goals to be accomplished along the way. However, you can also use your coaching skills in less formal ways– just as a way of relating and interacting. Think of it as a “coaching moment” instead of a “coaching relationship.”

Steps to Help You Make Decisions with God

You’ve got a big decision to make. When you make a decision based on the human intellect alone you might come away with a “good decision”; in contrast, when you consider God’s perspective on a matter you engage the spiritual dimension. This will lead you  down the path of prayerful decision making.

Can you find coaching in the Bible?

If you are trying to help others understand the biblical basis for coaching, here are two key scripture passages to help.

9 Ways Coaching Aligns with Biblical Principles

You may be wondering if coaching is biblical. The Bible never commands us to coach. In fact, the word coach is never used. So why coach? Should we even coach? Here are 9 ways coaching aligns with biblical principles.

The #1 Secret to Raising Self-Led Adults

You want your kids to become self-led adults. People who make good decisions, live into their gifts and talents, and contribute to their communities. The teen years are when the rubber hits the road. 

Purpose-filled Conversations with Your Teens

Conversations with your teens can feel one-sided. There are a lot of grunts and minute head nods, or if you’re lucky–one word answers. But this is a time in their development where they make important decisions that have lasting consequences. So, how do you move past casual chats to more meaningful and purpose-filled conversations with your teens? 

Coaching your kids

Translating your coaching skills to support your parenting will help you raise kids who have a clear understanding of who they are and have a solid framework for making good decisions. 

5 signs that you could be a better coach

You’ve been coaching for a while now. You may have even completed coach certification; but you feel there is something more… Are you coaching at your optimal level or could you be a better coach? How do you really know how well you’re doing? 

5 Steps to Clarify Your Values

Having trouble moving forward in your ministry goals? What about those you serve? If you are struggling to fill seats and find volunteers the issue may not be WHAT you are doing but a disconnect from the WHY.

Learning to trust your coach and your team

Are you at the top of your game? Even if you are, are you ready for what’s next? So many gifted and purposed pastors burn out because they are playing a solo game. Learning how to work with your team raises your effectiveness and reach in ministry.