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Today’s post is the final part of a series about coaching. I wrote these articles while interning with Church Assistance Ministry and have decided to share them with you because coaching is one of the many elements of leadership.


As a result of being coached by Steve Elliott I have done much more than I ever thought I could.

Mentoring Coaching

I have done great things that I never would have done by myself.  For two more years I lead A Day of Hope while being coached by Steve.  During those two years we experienced explosive growth in the amount of people we were successful to feed. I wish I could take more of the credit for the growth we experienced, but to be honest, much of it was because of the coaching Steve was giving to me.

Steve has reminded me of the things I know, and helped me to take them further.  He has also helped to draw out of me the good qualities and strengths that laid dormant within me.  But as a good coach does, he drew them out of me.

After being coached by a great leader, a great man, and a great Christ follower, I know have:

  1. More patience with people to allow them to catch up to my vision and goals
  2. More openness to new ideas and suggestions of others when those ideas and suggestions don’t agree with mine.
  3. More security in myself as a leader and am confident in my ability to lead.
  4. More comfort in approaching conflict because I know it is a necessary part of leadership.
  5. More understanding of what my strengths are and how I use them for the benefit of leading others.

Not only has Steve helped to develop leadership qualities and skills into my life, he also played a crucial role in me making a decision to become a follower of Jesus in November of 2009. Earlier I did not share that Steve had offered to mentor and coach someone (me) who was not even a Christian. I had yet to make that decision in my heart to follow Jesus. In spite of that decision I had not made (which he knew about) he continued to coach me every month. As we would meet he would drop in some Bible teaching to me and we would talk about the Bible and Jesus. So when that opportunity presented itself on a Wednesday evening at a friend’s home to accept Jesus into my heart, I took it. And Steve played a crucial role in helping me become ready to make that decision.

This article has included what the impact of coaching has had on my  life so far.  I have shared with you what I have done and experienced as a result of being coached by my dear friend, Steve Elliott.  I have shared with you the impact coaching has had on my life so far.   However, my story is not over.  The impact that Steve has had on my life will continue to affect me for the rest of my life.  The affects of coaching has been good so far, now I get to see the rewards and what happens in my life for the following years and decades.  I am only 25 years old, and I am excited to enjoy many more learns of life and coaching.  My story, is just beginning.

People come into your life for a reason, a seasons or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Author Unknown

 Question: How has coaching made a positive difference in your life?

Today’s post is part of a series about coaching. I wrote these articles while interning with Church Assistance Ministry and have decided to share them with you because coaching is one of the many elements of leadership.

Mentoring Coaching


According to the definition that Steve has taught me, there is a difference between mentoring and coaching.

  • Mentoring: is where the mentor pours into me what he knows.
  • Coaching: is where the coach draws out of me what is already inside of me.

Most of my time with Steve has been focused on coaching, drawing out of me what is already inside.  He has helped to pull out what is on the inside by discerning my strengths as a leader and helping me to develop them the best I can.

A key assumption that coaching requires is that the person being coached has a strong motivation to grow and develop.  Like me, I’m sure you have attended lots of leadership and church conferences.  Many of these are filled with what I call “fluff.”  Fluff is that stuff they do to engage you, entertain you, and motivate you to learn while at the conference.  This might be great music, an inspiring story told by the opening speaker, or some other crazy act they might do.

But, coaching assumes that you already have this strong desire within you to grow as a leader.  Coaching’s job is to draw out of you the skills and tools that you need to lead people.  Because you already have the desire to lead, you need someone who can show you how to do it and coaching you to finding your own way of leading people.

In my experience, I had tremendous desire to serve families through A Day of Hope, but I did not have the skills necessary to make it happen.  I had the “want” but did not have the “how.”  And that’s what Steve provided me through coaching: the how to lead people.

Question: What do you believe is the difference between mentoring and coaching?

Relating to my posts over the last few days, I think you will enjoy reading about a book I just finished titled, Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time by Greg Ogden.

God is God. He rules over you and me. It is nice to have Ogden affirm this when he writes, “we are kingdom people, which means that Jesus is Lord in our hearts, homes and workplaces; our attitudes, thoughts and desires; our relationships and moral decisions; our political convictions and social conscience” (pg 28). The dilemma is how we use the power of discipleship in triads to help each other make that happen.

Based on my personal story of being discipled before being a Christian, I agree with Ogden on making discipleship not just for “super-Christians” (pg 48). I believe that we should frame discipleship as something that can happen to people the moment they become a Christian, and before. The task for us as churches is to encourage that to happen.

I learned years ago that who you spend time with is who you become. Who you hang around and who you allow to influence you determines what kind of person is modeled for you. Jesus seems to have known that before I did, and Ogden reminds us, saying, “His [Jesus] life and mission needed to be internalized in the lives of the disciples. The way to ensure that they internalized his mission was through ‘purposeful proximity’” (pg 65). Jesus knew that his disciples would be like him and catch on to what he was doing by simply having them around. That is exciting to me as a Christian leader to know that I do not always have to be teaching and mentoring. I can simply allow the people I want to disciple to hang around with me.

I often ponder and write about the purpose of leadership and how to do a great job of it. Ogden offers us great insight when he tells us that, “Jesus staked his entire ministry on the preparation of the Twelve to carry on his mission after he returned to the Father” (pg 95). This is a great call to us as current Christian leaders that we are to stake our entire ministry on preparing the people around us to carry on our ministry for Christ before returning to the Father.

Approaching the end of Transforming Discipleship, Ogden starts to give us a picture of what successful discipleship looks like in a church. He touches on something that seems very important as an implementer of discipleship groups when he writes, “A discipling or training model has a much greater chance of outliving a primary leader than does one built around a leader’s personality” (pg 134). This is big for us as leaders because it is easy to use our charisma to cast vision and lead based on our skills and personal style of discipleship. But if we work hard to develop a “model” for discipleship to take place on a regular basis that might slightly reflect our personality but not depend on it, that model has great chance to continue on after we leave.

Perhaps one of Ogden’s shortest statements in the book is also one of the most moving for me. When talking about training in righteousness through Scripture he declares, “We become what we place our minds on” (pg 167). I believe this applies to scripture and to the discipleship relationships we might engage in. When we commit to meeting with one or two other believers in a covenantal discipleship relationship, we are going to be placing our minds on the right things. And placing our minds on the right things with other Christians is going to help us become the people God wants us to be: solid Christian men and women who are trained to equip other saints and share the gospel.

Question: What has been your experience in a discipleship relationship? 

Today's post continues a three part series titled, My Story of Being Discipled. To read yesterday's post, go here.

Characterizing the relationship Steve and I have is difficult to do because it does not fit into one single category.

My professor in a Current Evangelism and Discipleship Class often taught us that rarely do we lock into one category of relationship with someone. Instead, it is very common, as Nancy says, that our relationship with someone discipling or mentoring us will have several different elements and characteristics to it. 

In their book, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed, authors Paul Stanley and Robert Clinton outline eight different types of mentoring relationships that someone might engage in. Most of my time with Steve consists of a coach or teacher type of relationship. When we started off our relationship most of the time Steve was coaching me through the new situations I was experiencing and teaching me the skills that I wanted to learn. Through that Steve would coach me and bring out the elements of my character that I needed to have for assertiveness and conflict resolution. Even though Steve does impart a lot of wisdom to me as a teacher, he often says that he learns as much from me as I learn from him. For instance, he often learns about his own coaching and teaching as he sees in writing the things that he often only says.

The model of discipleship that definitely works best for me is when I am able to have a relationship with the other person and ask questions. As I shared earlier, the way I am discipled by Steve is highly dependent on me coming to him with situations and questions. I usually come to him with about half a page of questions. Steve is someone with great wisdom and insight, and I always want to tap into that wisdom for the situation that I am in. 

As a young man and a new Christian, I have a strong desire to be a strong Christian leader, but I do not always know what that looks like. Steve has helped me by showing me what I need to do and what habits I need to possess to be a strong Christian man and leader. That is why I always take time to think through what is going on in my life and then ask Steve to help me with that. And, from what Steve tells me, he appreciates that I do that. He does not have to give as much effort to keep me accountable as other men he disciples because I put in the work on my own, and that fosters the positive relationship that we enjoy and each mutually benefit from.

Based on what I have shared thus far, I agree with Ogden when he shares that “Discipleship is fundamentally a relational process.”[1] I know that Steve has my back. He cares for me, believes in me, and he is going to walk with me through whatever I am going through. When Steve and I get together we start our time by sharing how our month has been going and what we have been up to. In addition to that, Steve and I regularly pray together and for each other.

In a way, we are a team working together where Steve offers discipleship to me while I help him to clarify his thinking by writing his quotes and giving them back to him. Through this process, Steve provides tremendous encouragement to me as a leader. Through Steve’s encouragement, he acts out the same process that the apostle Paul follows when Ogden describes, “Paul’s parental discipling model always had the goal of encouraging people to become all they were intended to be in Christ.”[2] I feel this type of parental encouragement in Steve’s influence on my life.

He always believes in me more than I believe in myself. He definitely has a desire to see me grow up and flourish as a Christian who has all the tools and practices necessary to be an effective Christian leader.

Question: What's your story of being discipled? Has someone believed in you more than you believed in yourself?

[1] ibid 67

[2] ibid 116

It was a spring afternoon when I shared with two men my vision for the work that I wanted to do in the future.

I shared with them my desire to serve leaders through writing books and teaching. Shortly after that day, one of the two men privately approached me and shared that he saw some leadership giftedness in me, and he wanted to coach me to help maximize my effectiveness as a leader. I gratefully accepted his offer knowing little about the drastic change that was about to take place in my professional and spiritual life.

For the past three and a half years I have been fortunate to benefit from a discipleship relationship with Steve Elliott who serves as President of Church Assistance Ministry and as a staff pastor at Enclave Community Church. The relationship that Steve and I have enjoyed has been extremely beneficial to me and played a crucial role in allowing me to make a commitment in November of 2009 to follow Jesus.

When Steve and I first began meeting, we only talked about leadership. In fact, the relationship did not start out as a formal “discipling” relationship. However, the topics of our conversations slowly turned more and more towards God over the years. Every opportunity that Steve had to bring up Jesus, he did. Through the process of meeting with Steve I began to realize more and more that Steve has great wisdom to share.

I perceive Steve’s insight and discernment as very valuable. So I work very hard to maximize our time together so I may glean as much as possible from him.

When we meet, I usually prepare for our time the by writing about four topics:

  1. Here’s What I Learned: I write the notes that I took from the last time that Steve and I met, 
  2. Here’s What I Did: This is a list of the things that I have actively done and experienced since our last meeting, 
  3. Here’s What I Learned: These are the things I have learned since we last met relating to what he said and what I have experienced, and 
  4. Here’s What I Need Coaching On: These are questions and situations that I am looking for him to help me with by sharing wisdom, suggestions, and insight. 

These lists tell Steve exactly what I am going through, what I am learning, and where he can help. Recording our time together in this way also helps Steve to see his own words in writing so he knows what he is teaching.

The relationship Steve and I share is a great example of what Greg Odgen talks about when he states that we need people to live with us and guide us in our early years. As he writes, “a necessary and pivotal element in providing the motivation and discipline to grow self-initiating, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Jesus comes only through personal involvement.”[1] Steve provides that investment in me by spending his time, energy, and money on me.

Although Steve and I began meeting in March of 2008, I did not accept Christ until November of 2009. This means he was involved in my life before I was a Christian, when I did become a Christian, and since then. With that in mind, Steve has played a crucial role in showing me what it means to make a commitment to Christ. Steve showed me what it means to be a Christian leader who has had a life of ministry. And, that picture is a picture that I wanted to be part of. It was something that I wanted to be involved and included in because of the unique relationship Steve and I had.

Question: Please share your story of being discipled? 

[1] Greg Ogden, Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 55.

Preparing for Being Mentored

February 17, 2010 — 2 Comments

Yesterday I wrote about The Need for Being Mentored. Now for some follow up thoughts from yesterday's post showing you how I prepare for meetings with my mentors.

Preparation is a key element to any leader getting the most out of his mentoring relationship. Whenever I meet with Steve or Mike, we never get together unless I have provided them with 5 – 10 pages of preparation notes several days before our meeting.

These preparation notes gives them the info they need to aide their mentoring and coaching of me. Here's that I include in the mentoring preparation that I give to them.

  1. "Here's What You Said" – This is where I re-write all the notes I took from the last time we met. I rewrite all the key phrases, advice, principles and philosophies they told me. Whenever I write down the Here's What You Said stuff, the mentor is sometimes surprised and says, "Did I really say that?" In a way, they are actually learning through our mentoring relationship because they're seeing their words in print and it helps them to clarify their thinking and content.
  2. "Here's What I Did" This is where I outline all of the work I've been doing since we last met. I will tell them what I did to act on the advice and coaching they gave me. I tell them what's happening at work and personally. I do my best to paint a picture for them of what I've been doing and how I'm making progress on my vision, dreams and goals.
  3. "Here's What I Learned" This is where I share my distinctions on what I've learned from what they said and what I've done over the past month. I talk about how I'm applying what they taught me and what it means to me.
  4. "Here's What I Need Coaching On"This is where I list 3 – 5 areas that I need some coaching and help from my mentor. I will tell him about areas that I'm working on where I need some coaching and mentoring. I'll tell them about a critical decision I need to make, personal relationships stuff, or I'll share with them an area in work and my own leadership that I think I can do a better job. Even though I provide several different coaching topics, I leave it up to my mentor to pick one and give me coaching based on what he thinks I need the most help with and what he can offer the most help with too.

These preparation notes allows my mentors to have a clear picture of where I am, so they can do the best job possible to help me get where I want to go.

It's no secret that leaders need mentors in their life. They need
someone who has been further, who is older and who is more experienced
than the leader so that he can learn and glean from that

Because leaders are often being stretched, they need a
mentor who can come alongside them to help and support them in their

Because leaders often have a big vision for the future they
need someone who can mentor them and help them in their growth.

Because leaders' vision are often so much bigger than themselves and their
ability, they need all the help they can get.

And a mentor is a perfect
way to help aide the leader in his growth and development
professionally and personally.

I personally have two mentors in my life: Steve Elliott and Mike Savage.

Every month I spend about an hour with each of them. Steve and I meet at
Starbucks at 6am on the first Wednesday of the month, and Mike and I
often talk on the phone once a month on the weekend.

Tomorrow I'll make a post where I share with you how I prepare for my two mentors. I have a great system that I use which allows me to get the most of out their time and expertise.