Telling > Teaching > Training > Trusting
That’s the growth paradigm we unpack in Coach Training.
Seems so simple at first glance. It goes like this:
When a child is young we tell them, “You can’t cross the road!”
Then we teach them, “Don’t cross the road without looking - there may be cars coming!”
Training comes next, where we teach them to look both ways and ask them if there are cars coming.
Then comes the day when we trust them and let them ride their bike to a friend’s house on their own and eventually “confidently” give them car keys, etc.
But what about topics where the stakes are much higher.
How does it work with issues like choosing a mate, career choices, financial investments, or even walking out a life of faith?
Often when parents of adult children have questions or concerns they revert back to telling or teaching.
It’s easy to do.
You have such deep concern about your adult children’s lives that you want to chime in and “save” them from poor choices.
We resort to cloaking our tells in coaching clothing and use questions like, “Well, you know what I would do if I were you?” or “Don’t you think it would be better to____?”
These aren’t really questions, of course, they are back-door tells.
Most of us hate being on the receiving end of these kinds of statements, but somehow we justify giving them. These comments erode trust and assume infantizing(*) is the only clear choice for creating awareness.
But how can we help them when we see pitfalls?
What if we have concerns they don’t seem to be aware of?
Or even worse, what if we feel like we dropped the ball and didn’t teach them about something they clearly need to understand for the choice they are making right now?
Let’s back up the truck for a minute.
When we see something we have concerns about it’s SO IMPORTANT to coach them. Even if they are asking for advice, the way to help them grow is through coaching.
Jesus coached. He was always moving his people toward a place of mature choices.
When he had concerns he asked questions. Sometimes he told stories first to set the context, but he rarely just flat out told people what to do. He trusted the Holy Spirit to guide them. What would it look like if we did the same? What would it build in our “children” and how would it free us?
It would sound like this with true curiosity and respect:
“I find myself wondering about this career pathway. Help me understand how you came to this? What are the benefits you see? What are the costs you will incur? How is the effort going to be worth the effect? What will you want from me moving forward?”
“Tell me more about ‘Joe’. What do you love about him? What will you have to live with if this relationship goes the distance? How will you decide if he is the one?” Or even a more tricky topic with dating, “How’s it going with physical boundaries? Are you guys on the same page? Is he someone you feel safe with? Can you talk about stuff like this with him?”
What does it do to your soul when someone tells you, “I can see the pros and cons in that decision. I’m sure you will make the right choice and if we need to adjust later I will walk with you there as well.” Can you feel the confidence welling up?
Conversely, if you “let your kids have it” and tell them what you think about their questionable decisions there are only two outcomes available.
They push you away because they feel like you don’t trust them and are treating them like a child. The bridge of the relationship will be hard to rebuild. They will likely choose to drift away rather than wanting to remain close.
They feel like they are incapable of good decisions and need your input/approval on everything they do. While this may feel safer and even be enticing, it will be hard for them to grow up and they will always need your “permission” to move forward. This caps their growth and taxes your leadership. It means you need to be right every time for everyone.
Coaching doesn’t necessarily come naturally, but then most good things in the kingdom are counter-culture.
Many people take coach training for a level up or paradigm shift in their ministry, and those who really get it find it affects all their primary relationships. I know personally, it impacts my marriage, relationships with my adult children and spouses, with our parents, with co-workers, and also ministry leaders.
Coaching isn’t always easy, but it is always freeing and is the Jesus way.
Coaching helps you build bridges and not burn them!
* - Infantizing is the act of putting one person in the place of being an adult and the other as a needy and incapable infant.
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