Coaching is a Skill Set, Not a Magic Pill

Coaching is a Skill Set, Not a Magic Pill

Coaching skills can be learned and put into practice. I´m finding this approach works well with this generation of digital relationships.


What would happen if …

My leadership style has been so transformed by coach training. So, I wondered what would happen if I taught basic coaching concepts to small group leaders in our church?

I launched the idea to our weary leaders and they all readily agreed to go for it. The next step was figuring out the essence of what brought transformation in my own leadership style and relationships. Here’s what I came up with:

Key Concepts

  • Authenticity – instead of “holding down the fort”, “hanging on”, or responding with “glory to God, in Him I have the victory!”, we all needed a good dose of authenticity. We had to learn how to share victories, failure and needs in a way that invited others to freely express themselves in return. It took several risky practice sessions but finally a new sense of openness and encouragement began to bloom.
  • Open questions – The next skill-set we tackled was how not to turn our home groups into a Bible study, group counseling session, or even a mini-church service. One leader-trainee was moved to tears by having someone ask questions and actually listen to her responses!
  • The Heart of a Coach – imitating the heart of Jesus. Together we considered how God is already moving and working in whoever we engage in conversation. By believing they are capable of hearing and obeying what God is saying to them, we empower others to trust God instead of merely following our advice.
  • OREO feedback – We taught them how to self-praise, self-correct, and plan together as a team – how to affirm positive things happening in the group more than analyzing what is going wrong and trying to correct out of our weakness. This has created an excitement and initiative on the part of the leaders to keep ambience, questions, and listening skills intentional each week.

We began weekly lunch meetings because practicing these skills became more and more exciting. Learning to live in an authentic way, to listen and ask more questions and have others believe in you was so sweet. We wanted to take that experience to the small groups we all were leading.


In just a few weeks we were getting reports from our small groups: a young man we´d never met before rededicated his life to the Lord! A woman living in an abusive relationship was able to share her story and feel supported and accepted. She later broke off the relationship and is headed out to a discipleship school for 6 months!

A new person showed up and easily joined in the family ambience. Upon leaving the meeting she commented, “what´s going on here? I found myself sharing intimate details of my life story, and I had only wanted to sit back and observe!” She has become a member of the church and is leading another ministry.

Non-Christian friends are being invited into the groups and they are finding a place where they can observe Christianity in all its authenticity and they like it! Our groups doubled in the first 3 months I think because others began to see what was happening and wanted in on the “real thing!”

Get some training and put it into practice in every area of your life and watch the fruit multiply!

by Patricia Clewett, Leadership Coach & Coach. Bi-Lingual missionary to Spain, living in Barcelona for more than 20 years. Mother of 4 adult children. Married to the same man since 1978. Certified Professional Coach of cross-cultural and leadership coaching experience. Completed 3-year training including LCT 1 and MCT levels I and II. Now Completing Apprenticeship to train other coaches in the Spanish Speaking World.

The Mission Trip Jesus Failed!

The Mission Trip Jesus Failed!

It’s not a sin

Yes, the title was partly to get your attention. We know Jesus was perfect, so he must have been successful at everything he did, right? He wasn’t! If you define success as achieving a desired outcome then Jesus failed numerous times throughout his life on earth. You can fail to have desired effect on people because you can’t control a persons response. (Remember – failing to achieve a goal is not a sin, failing to obey God is a sin. BIG difference).

In Mark 5 Jesus shows up in the Gerasenes and displays God’s love and power in setting a demon possessed man free. Instead of receiving him into the region with open arms “the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region”. So, Jesus honored their request and left! This had to feel like a total failure to spread the good news of God in that area.

Identity in relationship

Where have you done your best and walked away totally discouraged because it felt like a failure? Ask Jesus, “Jesus, what did you feel like when you left the Gerasenes?” Listen to the first thoughts that come to your mind. Follow this up with some relational questions like “Jesus, what do you think of me in this failure?” Listen to how Jesus speaks to your relationship with him and your identity.

Because Jesus kept his identity and worth in his relationship with God, situational failure never diverted him from continuing his life purpose. In fact God used it to advance his purpose. The healed man became the missionary to the people of that region. Making disciples was a main purpose of Jesus in his time on earth.

Abandoned by Jesus

The man that Jesus healed wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus didn’t let him. Jesus abandoned him and left him there!
Have you ever felt like Jesus left you stranded?

Talk to Jesus about this:

  • What is the truth that Jesus saw in this man that the man didn’t see in himself?
  • How was the greater presence of Jesus manifested because Jesus left the man behind?
  • How was the love of Jesus demonstrated to the people of the region because Jesus was willing to leave him?

Now make it personal. Ask Jesus questions like:

  • “How did you feel when you left the man there on shore?”
  • “What do you see in me that I don’t see in myself?”
  • “How can I demonstrate your love to others by staying in the is place that I felt abandon by you?”
  • “How are you still with me even in this place?”

I just prayed that you will encounter the heart of Jesus in a transforming way.

by Jonathan Corbin – Owner of Corbin Business Coaching. Jonathan has been through the Life Leadership Coach Training with Coaching Mission International. He provides coaching for small business owners with a emphasis on how the internal perspective shapes the external reality that one creates. Jonathan has run a tree trimming business for 11 years and lives in Northern Indiana with his wife and four children.

Life on the Other Side of Transition

Life on the Other Side of Transition

I’ve experienced more than my share …

of transition over the past 6 months. I said farewell to life and ministry in the land of Turkey. My oldest daughter was married (I gained a super son-in-law by the way.)  Our son recently moved away to college. Our youngest daughter started her high school career in a new town. A new home, church, and community. While many of these life events give good reason to celebrate, they are nonetheless big changes to navigate, and especially all at once!

It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to full time cross-cultural ministry. After all, it was some of the most rewarding and fulfilling 20 years of my life. Someone recently asked me what it was that triggered such a big transition. I couldn’t point to just one thing. Transitions are strange in that way. Feeling under-utilized, not challenged, restless – there were a number of indicators over a long season before the actual transition took place. God has his own way of getting us ready for change.

Transition is a process of letting go, grieving the losses, celebrating the past, and moving forward by faith into a new season of life and ministry

God has used transition, in its many forms, to shape my character, re-align myself with His purposes, and get me ready for the next assignment. And he’s not finished with me yet. I recently came across a devotional about the life of Joseph. We know about the multi-colored coat he proudly wore in his youth, but there is something much more enduring: his character.

“It was Joseph’s character, not his coat, that sustained him through years of betrayal, temptation, accusation and imprisonment.”
– The Word for You Today, December 2016

Prolonged and difficult transitions can be fertile ground for transformation

I’m also thinking of the global scope of this coaching community. I think of God’s promise to Abraham, that through him and his seed (that’s us) all nations will be blessed. May we pray to be shaken like salt and dispersed like light among the nations, in order that God’s promise to Abraham might be fulfilled, to the ends of the earth.

As a family, we’re starting to recover and regroup from all the transition. We’ve settled into our new abode (new for us), a 1960’s era home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. I’m back to building fires in the woodstove, raking up loads of pine needles, and a bit of hiking and hunting – all activities that were not part of life in the big city of Istanbul. These are things that renew and energize me. Well, maybe I could do without all the yard work!

Time and space to breathe

Transition has taken its toll on me emotionally and spiritually. Thankfully, God has given me the gift of time and space to breathe. I’ve been reminded of who I really am in relationship to God. I’m kept in the love of God and sustained by Him through intimacy with Him, not merely by what I do for Him. I’m passionate about coaching, but I want to be more passionate about God. I need this reminder from time to time. I always will.

As a coach, I’ve learned two valuable lessons through this season of change:
–  Working with a coach is a vital part of processing and planning through a transition.
–  We don’t need to have our own transition all figured out to effectively coach others.

God can and will use us to serve our clients well even when, or maybe especially when, we are navigating our own transitions.

Tim Austin is a certified Life and Leadership Coach, an MCT 2012 graduate, and ordained minister.
Tim believes that transitions, in their many forms, are fertile ground for personal and professional growth. He is the founder of Encompass Life Coaching, a consulting firm dedicated to coaching fellow transitioners in the marketplace, in ministry, and in missions. Prior to engaging as a full-time life coach, he dedicated himself to a life overseas. The adventure led him to Central Asia, where he gave vision and management to non-profits, international churches, and small businesses.
Tim thrives in culturally diverse contexts, contributing his gifts and skills for the common good.
Tim is the author of Transition Companion: Tips and Encouragement for Navigating Seasons of Change. He blogs at
He and his wife Eve have three amazing kids, one dog, and a marriage going on 25 years. Tim lives in the mountains of Northern California. Tim cannot imagine mornings without coffee, life without the great outdoors, a home without kids (2 out of 3 have currently left the nest), and an existence without God.

22 Gift Ideas for those you know in cross-cultural service

22 Gift Ideas for those you know in cross-cultural service

When I lived in China, I LOVED getting packages. This was back before so many western products were available and internet shopping was non-existent. My family used to ask me, well it was really more of  pestering me, if I was opening gifts early. Is it a lie if it keeps them happy? And I got a present a day? Really? Did Jesus come to bring joy or more rules?

Though it may be hard to believe, Christmas is around the corner. If you have Christian friends serving cross-culturally abroad, and you want to get them something for Christmas, you need to start thinking of gift ideas.

I sound bossier than I mean to be :).

I hate to admit that a lot of money goes into packages filled with stuff that isn’t needed or wanted. But I still believe that supporters want to bless those they support with gifts. For those who do not want to send Christmas money this will give you a few ideas.

Specifically look at #12! I’m super proud and excited about #12.

This list has been gather with an eye to what can help cross-cultural workers get to the field, stay on the field, transition from the field, or resettled for home assignments or reentry. Either choose something from the list or ask your cross-cultural workers what would be helpful at this point in their journey.


1. Need a gift idea for your family? Parents of Missionaries: How to Thrive and Stay Connected When Your Children and Grandchildren Serve Cross-Culturally by Cheryl Savageau and Diane Stortz.
2. Returning Well: Your Guide to Thriving Back “Home” After Serving Cross-Culturally by Melissa Chaplin. Melissa also offers coaching packages for individuals and families.
3. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
4. As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir by Kay Bruner
5. THEM: The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others by John Certalic.
6. Transition Companion: Tips and Encouragement for Navigating Seasons of Change by Tim Austin.
7. Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service  by Amy Young.  Also the downloadable companion guides: Looming Transitions Workbook and 22 Activities for Families in Transition.


8. The Well in Chiang Mai, Thailand offers retreats on a regular basis—including for transitions, couples, marriages, Advent, parenting, Art. Find one that fits what you need now.
9. Azmera hosts 3 Haven Retreats around the globe annually.These retreats are designed to impact English speaking women serving overseas from various nations. We also welcome other expats (full-time vocational workers employed by embassies, companies, military, etc.).
10. Thrive offers retreats that allow women serving cross-culturally to get away from their demanding work for a time of rest, renewal, and refreshment. The women are ministered to holistically – spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
11. A spiritual renewal retreat through the closest Life Impact Ministries Oasis.
12. Velvet Ashes Annual Retreat — each spring Velvet Ashes puts on a retreat for cross-cultural servants right where they are. Participants download files so they can listen the speakers, meditate on scripture, and enjoy other parts of the retreat. Guess what? You can  purchase previous retreats for $20 (normally they will be $25, they are on sale for Christmas) . . . and your friend, daughter, or worker can tend to their soul during this difficult time.

Debriefing Retreats

13. Abide (by TRAIN International)—This one-week renewal for those transitioning back into American culture debriefs the cross-cultural experience, explores reverse culture shock, and equips for healthy reentry into the home culture.
14. Debriefing and Renewal (part of MTI)—gives people the chance to reflect on their journey and engage with the Father about their story. Adult and child tracks available.
15. ELIM Retreats—provide spiritual debriefing, spiritual renewal, and pastoral care of the global worker.
16. Emmaus Encounter—provides a safe place for men and women of the Christian faith to process events of the past, so that they may grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and move forward in health.

Miscellaneous Ideas for Life

17. Couples, want to invest in your marriage? A PREPARE/ENRICH marriage enrichment assessment has been a favorite for those desiring to go deeper in their relationship (bonus if you are given coaching to go with it!)
18. Money toward an IRA or other forms of retirement savings.
19. Money ear marked for self-care in your city (or nearest city)—may include massage, meal out, night in a hotel.
20. Call around Christmas just to chat (not for a “report”).
21. Invite young adult kids of workers overseas to your home for Thanksgiving or Christmas—blesses them and is a great gift to their parents oceans away.
22. Pay for several session of Christian Coaching through CMI. Your gift could help someone to spiritual and professionally develop. Coaching services include for transitions, life purpose and calling, and support raising.

Which of these gift ideas do you guess is on their wish list? What gift idea would help them to get to, stay on, or transition from the field?
A version of this first appear at A Life Overseas.

When Amy Young first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words needed in life, right?! She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as content creator and curator, book club host, and connection group coordinator. Her book Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service was written with you in mind. It also has two companion resources: 22 Activities for Families in Transitions and Looming Transitions Workbook.

Stewards of our Stories

Stewards of our Stories

Two years ago I began participating in some intensive training on how to coach leaders. I love learning and commit to pursuing personal development. I went into this course expecting to grow and add a new skill to my ministry toolbox. What has been a pleasant surprise is how personally motivating and inspiring the training has been.

One module focuses on helping leaders learn about their life purpose and calling. This has been incredibly challenging. Tony Stoltzfus has developed discovery tools to help believers be good stewards of their stories. It helps them to see how their experiences – the high and the low – are all working together as part of God’s redemptive plan in their lives. He is a founding board member of CMI and author of our textbooks, “Christian Life Coaching” and “The Calling Journey” available at

Personal timeline

As I used the tools and developed a personalized timeline of my life experiences and journey with God, I also examined my life and faith journey. In addition it has been humbling and faith-stretching to recall the times of deep suffering and sorrow, as well as great joy and fulfillment. I can see the four stages of a leader’s life as described in Tony’s model.

In setting up my timeline I realized that as I grow older (approaching 60) I am moving towards convergence. I can see that by understanding my God given design, and by using my best strengths to convey the Life Messages God has built into my heart and soul through His refinement and preparation. He has truly worked on my character. This final, Fulfillment Stage, is when I have the potential to have the maximum influence for the kingdom. Finally I sense an urgency to make the most of my remaining years and leave a legacy. It is an exciting time!

Life shaping valleys

Also the three life shaping valleys were revealed in my timeline: Dependence, Wholeness and Identity. These valleys were indeed very painful wilderness experiences that took place in my early twenties, late thirties, and mid-forties. I faced temptation, loneliness, a medical crisis, the death of a dream, the sudden loss of my father, a huge transition with accompanying loss of status and marital conflict.

In each situation, my life circumstances didn’t line up with what I had planned. At times it felt like God had abandoned me or was punishing me. And yet, in hindsight, I can see how God was at work in mighty ways shaping, molding, and refining me. He stripped away many things – pride, idols, self-effort, lusts, and doing for Him, instead of being with Him.

While I spent time recalling the details of how I encountered God in those times of brokenness, as well as the important life messages I gained about who He is and who He created me to be, I was really challenged. My faith has been renewed and my love for Him deepened. It is amazing to see that He has never let me go. The past, the present and the future are all held together by His sovereignty and love.

How about you?

What important life messages have you gained in times of great blessing and/or brokenness?
If you would like to know more about timelines, here are two possibilities for self-study:
1.Develop your own timeline. The process is explained with worksheets and examples here:
2. Apply this idea to one or more of your quiet times by doing the following:

  • STOP. Remember and reflect on your journey so far. How has God already been at work in you? What life messages have you gained from your past experiences?
  • ASK. Based on His faithfulness in the past, ask how He wants you to involve Him in your situation today.
  • CONSIDER. Think about the ways God has never let you go. Review and apply life messages He has taught you to things you are walking toward in the future.

Have a wonderful time of reflection and rejoicing in God, who is present in past, present and future!

by Barbara Leary

Barbara LearyBarb and her husband, Rich, have been in ministry for 30+ years. Twenty years with The Navigators and the past ten with CRU. They have lived and served overseas in Kiev, Ukraine and Budapest, Hungary for 15 of those years. Currently they serve CRU’s Eastern Europe Area’s LeaderImpact. She loves seeing women fall deeper in love with Jesus and although she thrives living cross-culturally she misses her five children and five grandchildren back in the States.