Have you ever applied your coaching skills when engaging with people who are far from God? Doing so can transform the faith conversations into power relationships.
Casual Faith Conversations
A few years ago, we had our neighbors over for dinner. They were a young couple who were in the very beginning stages of starting their family. They had a lot of tattoos on their arms, and our conversation naturally evolved to the meaning and purpose behind the symbols they had chosen. Near the end of the evening, I noticed that on the wife’s hand was a pyramid with an eye in the middle. I imagined there was a good story behind that one so I asked her what it means (I was genuinely curious). Without going into detail, the story involved a spiritual experience that had changed her life. This opened further conversations about their belief system and worldview.
Where Faith Conversations Often Go Wrong
It would have been easy for me to react or attempt to deconstruct the narrative our new friends had created around the meaning and symbolism of her tattoo. The fact remains, their story is their story. It is poor coaching to hijack someone’s story and critique it–or worse, discount it. Later, we learned that they had an interest in learning about the biblical narrative of creation through Jordan Peterson (who has recently caught the imagination of many). They were on a quest to find meaning and significance in their life, and we were simply observers along for the ride.
Intro to Faith Coaching
As a coach, how do you remain inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth?
Think of these as “coaching postures” (an approach or attitude) when you engage in faith conversations. Each one is important and together they have a synergistic relationship that is impactful, noticeable and compelling.
This is how I define those ideas:
- Inquisitive: curious to learn about the other person
- Receptive to change: willing to adjust to the needs of the person
- Committed to growth: help the person take a step on their discipleship journey
10 Ways to Remain Helpful to Faith Seekers
It’s important to be aware of how we either help or deter a person as they explore matters of faith. The following are 10 ways to help you stay in that space:
- Be intentional and approach each conversation with an open mind
- Remain judgement free
- Use your words wisely
- Be quick to listen and slow to anger
- A negative reaction will quickly and firmly close the door, respond thoughtfully
- Look for ways to honor them and their life experience
- Be patient
- Listen more than you talk—even when you disagree
- Summarizing what you hear people say
- Be energetic
Are You Ready to Apply Coaching in Conversations with Non-believers?
A coachable coach is inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth. Conversely, an uncoachable coach is unwilling to learn, resistant to change, and comfortable with the status quo.
- Where do you land?
- Are you a coachable coach?
- Do you take the necessary steps to slow down, engage, and truly listen to be inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth?
Here is a very practical challenge to help you grow in your ability to engage in faith conversations. Practice before you “go live”. Ask your spouse, a colleague or friend to be willing to allow you to practice with them. Explain that you would like to try-out the three “coaching postures” with them. First, have them to reflect on a real situation they are navigating in their life. Second, set aside 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time for them to share while you practice the three postures. Third, request their feedback.
Now put the three postures of a coach into practice. In your next conversation with a person far from God, see if you can remain inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth. Then, reflect on the difference this makes with the people you engage with in comparison to how you have engaged people in the past.