Many years ago a professor challenged me with these words. “Whether you are teaching or counseling, always be self-consciously training.” As a result, I have adopted a coaching approach to teaching, administrating, counseling, and mentoring. If Jesus were launching His ministry in our culture, it might be that He would use the word coach rather than the word disciple. A look at His style through a contemporary lens certainly looks like coaching.
Luke has this perspective when he writes in Acts 1:1. “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.” This is what a good coach does. They do and teach.
In most instances, coaches played the sport they coach. Rarely have they not, but when this is the case, they have absorbed the dynamics sufficiently so that they can demonstrate them. My son-in-law did not play basketball, but he coaches. I went to my grandson’s first basketball practice with his new team. I sat in the bleachers beside some Dads who did not know I was related to Robbie. One Dad said to the others, “Watch this man! He knows how to coach.” He was right. Robbie masterfully focused on each boy and taught him how to execute blocks, maneuver for lay ups and make other strategic moves.
There are at least four venues in which biblical counselors have the opportunity to coach.
Whether the biblical counselor serves in a church of a 100 or 5000, elder training (or as Jay Adams use to say, “The power bunch in your church”) is essential. Elders are the first line shepherds. They need to be trained to spot developing problems and intervene before they become formal counseling issues. Part of the training of elders is engaging with them in this type of situation so we can coach them through the process of ministering to the needy sheep.
Formal training for lay counseling needs to be more than class lectures. It needs to be more than memorizing the right Scripture to apply to an issue—roles in marriage for example.
In our training, we use video demonstrations with lots of coaching as we work through the video role plays. We use role plays in the class with every trainee getting to be the counselee and the counselor surrounded by three to five observers who critique the counselor after the role play. Group reflection by the entire class follows. Each week class members are invited to share a counseling opportunity they experienced that week. This is followed by a coaching response from the class and the teacher.
Supervision is coaching. Before sitting down to write this blog, I had a call from a NANC supervisee who was dealing with a difficult case. It was a great coaching opportunity.
Coaching also takes place by having counselors observe the supervisor or the supervisor observe the counselor and then discussing what they observed. Coaching happens when a lay counselor knocks on my door and says, “Do you have a few minutes?”
The place where some would not expect coaching in terms of training is in the counseling process. However, for me every counseling case is an opportunity not only to assist the counselee(s) with the issues brought into the office, but to develop the counselees into coaches and counselors who minister to others. One of the most exciting things I hear from a counselee is something like this. “This week I had the opportunity to share that Philippians 4 passage with a co-worker who has been struggling with anxiety like I was. I became you to my co-worker!”
As biblical counselors we should have the principle of 2 Timothy 2:2 as the goal in all we do.
Join the Conversation
What venues are you using to coach others to become biblical counselors?