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 encompasslifecoaching.com.
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.
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The Importance of Personal Values

The Importance of Personal Values

Quick – tell me what your values are and why. How long would it take you to respond? Could you identify and explain your values? We should all be able to because we all operate from certain values, whether we can identify them or not. To a coach, it’s important to discover values because as Tony Stoltzfus writes in The Christian Life Coaching Handbook, “It’s hard to coach toward someone’s values if neither of you know what they are!” Conversely, Roy Disney said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

Knowing values brings clarity

In coaching life purpose discovery, it’s important to deal with values. They are firmly connected to what direction a person wants to go and how they live out their life purpose. I’d never given much thought to my personal values until I was being coached to discover my life purpose. Once I discovered my values and wrote them down, I felt a great sense of empowerment as I could give voice to what was important to me and why. Knowing my values gave me clarity on my passions and my motivation to live out my life purpose.

Values describe what we are passionate about

Why is this important to me? Why do I feel so strongly about this? Why would I defend this person/viewpoint so vigorously? Why do I care about this so much? Again, from The Christian Life Coaching Handbook, “Values describe what we are most passionate about, what motivates us, and why we make certain choices.”

Think about values from the opposite view – how can I make a big decision if I don’t know what my values are and how they impact the decision? How can I know what my life purpose is if I don’t know what I’m most passionate about, what motivates me or why I make certain choices?

Christ placed value on us

In the US, we’ve formed the belief that passion means a strong feeling about a person or thing. But when you look at the root of passion, you find its original Latin meaning was suffer, or suffering. That’s where we get the Passion of the Christ from. The Suffering of Christ. Christ was willing to suffer and die because He placed such value on us. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

What do you value so much that you would be willing to suffer for? That suffering may not look the same as Jesus’, but there will be a willingness to discipline yourself, or even deny yourself (suffer), because of that value. Think about that question: what do I value so much I would be willing to suffer for? Then, ask the follow up question: Why would I be willing to suffer for that? There’s the beginning of discovering value and passion and how they influence you living out your life purpose.


Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!


by Jon Taylor, CMI Consultant, MCT Lead Trainer (Life Purpose Specialist). The Life Purpose Coaching module of the training had such an impact on him personally he wants to see others experience and multiply that impact for others. As Lead Pastor of a church in Phoenix, Arizona, Jon gets to coach, train and disciple wherever God gives the opportunity. More about Jon Taylor.

Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

How Flexible Can You Be?

How Flexible Can You Be?

Recently I talked with a former client who I had referred to another coach. I asked him how it went. He laughed a bit and told me it really hadn’t gone at all. In fact, despite trying for several months to set up appointments, they never had a session!

What happened?

The client explained that first of all, he didn’t “get” the time zone difference between him and his coach. When he was instructed that he was to take the lead in setting up the appointment, it felt to him like his new coach did not really care about him. When I asked the coach about all this, she explained it differently: the client did not take initiative, failed to show for the scheduled session several times and did not follow up. The coach did not think it was her job to run after the client! As a result, no coaching happened; no transformation occurred; no support was extended; no encouragement received.

Different values

‘Good’ American style coaching practice dictates that the client must take the initiative in the relationship. When clients ‘no-show’ or don’t contact us to set up the next session, we interpret that as lack of interest or commitment. In Western ‘Equality’ value societies, everyone is expected to take initiative and go after their goals. However, in the South Asian culture where this client came from, initiative usually comes from the ‘leader’(or in this case the coach) who is perceived to have more status. Also,relationship is valued more highly than task. This means that the client will dive into the ‘task’ of coaching only when the ‘relationship’ is established.

Different ways

Working cross culturally with these kinds of differences requires stretching beyond our normal practices. We become aware of different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking. This challenges our understandings and preconceptions, and reveals some of our own cultural biases embedded in what we might consider ‘good’ coaching process. If we are to be effective and avoid misunderstandings that can prevent coaching from ever happening, we need to carefully reflect on these questions:

  • Should coaching stay the same no matter who we are coaching?
  • If not, what can or should be adjusted?
  • When and where are boundaries needed?
  • When do we lay down our preconceptions and sacrifice what seems right to us in order to serve our cross cultural clients?

Your answers to these questions can make all the difference as to whether coaching actually happens, transformation occurs, support is extended, or encouragement is received.

Reflect: “When have you “held the line” on coaching absolutes? When have you flexed due to cultural values?”

The Culturally Intelligent Coach, Series: Sacrifice and Boundaries


Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!


Tinaby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI.  A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

 

Shalom in the Trenches

Shalom in the Trenches

Inquiries from the Police

Today I am struggling with how to respond to my Asian client. Inquiries from the police have forced him to move temporarily to a safer, remote location. While there, no internet will be available; and my client routinely maintains a punishing schedule of travel, making appointments difficult. The only time he can meet in the next six weeks is either during my writing retreat, or on a Sunday morning.

Responding from my safe office in my safe country

From my safe office, in my safe country, where I can freely talk about Jesus whenever I like, I need to respond to my client. What shall I say? How do I balance the demands of cross-cultural ministry, of invitation to sacrifice and flexibility, with the need to retreat and rest? How do I find the rhythms of grace that can enable me to finish well while also walking alongside others in their journey to finish well, too?

Shalom: A tricky balance

This dance of trusting Jesus while sacrificing, and on the other hand, trusting Jesus while resting and laying down the demands of ministry, is what I think of as the heart of biblical “shalom”. Shalom, the Hebrew word we often translate as “peace”, is so much more than a simple lack of strife. Shalom as a verb is the movement towards wholeness: for ourselves, others, and the world. It’s finding that tricky balance between others’ needs and ours.

So what does “shalom” look like in the trenches with our clients?

1. First of all, it means dependence of God. It means recognizing that we don’t always have the answers and we need God’s guidance.

2. Second, it means cultivating disciplines of rest, refreshment and renewal in our lives that go beyond the all too Western default position of recreation.

Recreation is not rest and its usually not renewal or refreshment either. Adrenalized recreation cannot fulfill our body’s need for sleep, creativity or deep renewal in the same way that a walk in the woods, a simple conversation with God, a nap, can! We need to have those regular times of rest and renewal in our lives to balance periods of service and giving out to others.

How did I respond to my client?

1. First, I stopped. This is a key step. I am learning that I do not need to respond immediately.

2. Then, I prayed. I asked God what to do. The answer was surprising: God reminded me of my commitment to Him to not schedule any appointments during the first week of my writing retreat. But the other alternative felt like enabling my client’s punishing schedule; and meeting on a Sunday just felt wrong!

3. Again, a moment with Jesus reminded me that due to my husband’s travel schedule, I’d be alone in the house for 4 days over that Sunday. God reassured me that during that time, he’d provide all the rest I needed, and that it was not my responsibility to bring conviction to my client about Sabbath-keeping. I could trust God to initiate change in my client and in me as he moved both of us towards wholeness.

Questions for Reflection:
– Do you tend to say “no” or “yes” too quickly? What would Jesus say to you about this?
– What long-term strategies for rest, refreshment, and renewal do you know you need to put in place? What’s one step you can take toward that today?


Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!


Tina Stoltzfus Horstby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI.  A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

The Finite Coach: Welcome to Rest

The Finite Coach: Welcome to Rest

Welcome to Rest

“There is finiteness to what I can do in this body. There is a finiteness to how many relationships I can engage in meaningfully at one time. There is a finiteness to time…. There is finiteness to my energy. There comes a time when I am tired….These are times when I am reminded that I am human-a finite being living in the presence of an infinite God. God is the infinite one. God is the one who can be all things to all people….God is the one who never sleeps. I am not.”  – Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership

Today during a mentor coaching session, I talked with a new coach about her goal to foster coaching conversations informally, with those she sits beside on a plane; eat breakfast with; visits on vacation; or sees at church. We talked about techniques, obstacles and resources. But her recognition by the end of the session was that her energy to invest in coaching conversations was, and is, limited.

Coaching takes focus; it takes attention. It can be exhilarating but also tiring! Sometimes we can’t or shouldn’t do it! Our ability to coach others is constrained by our very human frailty.

Pushing beyond, Pushing past, Finishing well?

I admit that you will often hear me say, “I live to be helpful!” This desire to help others is, for most coaches, part of our DNA – our life purpose – and it compels us!  But pushing beyond the limits of our own energy, pushing past rest and sleep and down time and refreshment will not help us to finish well. And ultimately, refusing to recognize this and to take care of ourselves will not aid us in becoming effective helpers either.

Rest is an act of faith

I believe that rest is an act of faith. It’s actively believing that God has some plans that don’t include me; that only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction; that God can work in someone’s life/organization without my help!

Because I believe that God is able and I am not, I can take a Sabbath.  I can schedule one retreat day a month.  I can say no to a new client. I can choose to paint or walk or sing or take a nap instead of scheduling one more coaching session. Becoming a great coach and a great leader means that I know where I stop and God begins.

Become a great coach and a great leader!

CMI has begun to set aside one day of retreat per quarter, simply to spend time with our Creator. There are no meetings scheduled; no classes attended; and no other rules.  We simply encourage each other to rest, recuperate, and be with God.

Would you join us? CMI retreat days are typically the first Monday of February, May, August, and November.

Questions for Reflection:
– Do you need to get away and take a real rest?  What’s stopping you?
– What regular disciplines of rest, refreshment/creativity and restoration do you practice?


Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!


Tina Stoltzfus Horstby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI.  A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.