As we consider “spiritual coaching,” let me throw another term at you that will round out the picture. Realize first that I am using “spiritual coaching” as a blanket term for “spiritual direction” and “spiritual counseling.” We use “spiritual direction” to refer to “tune-ups” for the soul and “spiritual counseling” for “fix-ups” for the soul (see the Schedule page for more details).
Spiritual formation is the life-long process of being spiritually formed into the character and life that Christ modeled… Becoming Christ-like.
The other term I was referring to is “spiritual formation”. This expression, lost to Christianity for some time, has been resurfacing of late, as “spiritual direction” has. I use it in its broadest sense to refer to the life-long process of being spiritually formed into the character and life that Christ modeled. Or, even more simply, to become Christ-like. If you have been around the church for any time at all you would have heard terms like “discipleship” (the process disciples [followers, students, learners] use to become like Christ) and “sanctification” (the process of becoming holy, like Christ). Think of “spiritual formation” as a noun that labels or describes the entirety of a Christian’s development into someone who increasing looks like Jesus. We just use “spiritual coaching” in place of the outdated “spiritual formation” label. I know, I am geeking out on this stuff! Try this, spiritual coaching (coaches) directs and teaches people how to how to be like Christ, to become (be “formed” into) Christians. Formation is the goal, direction and counseling is the process. We help people live and look more like Jesus did! That’s important because it’s both what we owe him and how a relationship with him happens. And that’s important because that’s how to live the life you’ve always craved. What we do here at “The Center” is spiritual direction and coaching so that people can become like Jesus and live the fullest most abundant life possible.
What we do here at “The Center” is spiritual direction and coaching so that people can become like Jesus and live the fullest most abundant life possible.
In part one I talked about spiritual coaching by employing the metaphor of working with a personal trainer to lose weight and become stronger and fit. However, not everyone is familiar with that world. In case that is you, or in case you just want another way to look at the subject, let’s approach it from a different angle.
Spiritual coaching (formation) through spiritual direction and spiritual counseling, is the lifelong quest of a roof that is completely open to God, no walls between us and others… and no elephants in the room! Spiritual coaching is the assistance we need to move in all three directions. Spiritual coaching helps us deconstruct the house of protection we have been building for years that is currently poisoning all our relationships.
Consider these verses that are central to Jesus’ teaching about life: Jesus tells a religious leader; …You must (1) love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: (2) ‘Love your neighbor as (3) yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29–31, The New Living Translation)
Jesus gave two commandments, but we see three directions that love must take. The pachyderms represent the third implied direction in the term “yourself.” They represent our relationship with ourselves. This is stuff that is present in our “house” but should not be! Elephants are always making a mess of things, are always in the way, taking up space and resources…, and yet are ignored! Others know they are there and you probably do too, but you are trying hard to look past them, work around them, and pretend they are no big deal. Elephants often represent things we have given up on and just accepted, even befriended. Once full grown, they are a very big deal!
Elephants represent things we have given up on and just accepted, even befriended. Once full grown, they are a very big deal!
A spiritual coach is someone who is working on their own deconstruction. But additionally they have the gifts and calling that enables them to communicate their journey with others in a way that helps them progress in their shared adventure. Spiritual direction is spending time with someone whose “house” (all the self-protections we have in place) is less prominent then ours and learning how they got where they are. Until we are well enough to love ourselves, without arrogance or inordinate and dsyfunctional self-protection, it is going to be impossible to love others or God at the level deserved or expected by God. You want a better relationship with your spouse, do something about the state of your relationship with God, and with yourself.
True, when you are trying to promote something you do not usually begin by talking about deconstruction. But that is just the issue. Until you identify the problem, and admit it is there, you cannot do a thing to change it. Until our defenses and spin and press releases are exposed for the lie or half-truth they are, we cannot move forward. Deconstruction must precede construction. Demolition before renovation. Removal before remodeling. Spiritual coaching is counter-intuitive to the culture, as is the entire life of the Christian. Truth, even if it stings, comes before transformation. You have to know what the target is and is not before you can hit it!