What Does a Spiritual Life Coach Do Anyway?

I was recently interviewed for an upcoming television special on Executive and Spiritual Life Coaching hosted by Joan Lunden.  Among the questions I was asked, perhaps the simplest, but least understood, was the following: ''What is the function of a spiritual life coach and what are some of the tasks and methods they use?''The answer to the first part of the question is as varied as there are spiritual coaches, but the theme each has in common is working ''from'', ''with'' and ''in'' a spiritual dimension, spirituality in this case understood as that which is both totally beyond us, but at the same time inextricably part of us.  Simply put, a spiritual life coach facilitates his/her clients' spiritual growth.  This can run the gamut from people at the very beginning of a spiritual life to those well advanced on a spiritual Path.  It also encompasses people in spiritual transition (e.g., people leaving and/or joining a particular faith tradition, people who have been abused spiritually/religiously and who now wish to reclaim a new, healthy spirituality while working through their pain, etc.).      Most often, the coach works primarily by listening and then asking the client questions relevant to his/her ''agenda''.  The coach and client then devise a plan for reaching the client's spiritual goals.  The coach acts as cheerleader, mentor, accountability partner, and, what I like to refer to as, the client's Sacred Witness. It is important to remember, however, that coaching is not therapy nor is it pastoral counseling.  The relationship between coach and client is that of equals.  The journey is a shared experience and the coach doesn't necessarily have to know more than the client. Some coaches will give their clients ''homework'' such as journaling, keeping a ''dream journal'', and/or making lists of things that empower or hinder a person's spiritual growth based on what the coach knows about the client's goals.  I invite clients to list ten goals they would like to reach over the course of ninety days.In a large way, spiritual coaches help others to help themselves, to live empowered, responsible, joyful, grateful and peaceful lives.  A spiritual coach is attempting to raise peoples' consciousness and disseminate the good news (gospel) that one person at a time we can turn the world around, as individuals, as couples, as families, as corporations, as governments, and countries, and as a planet.  Together, coach and client take the spirit energy that is within each of us and begin using it as a tool of profound personal change or transformation, building and tending and nurturing the lives we want in our deepest hearts to have, lives as whole, integrated, peaceful, loving, truly happy people, that is, people who are in tune with spirit.A spiritual life coach should work to empower and inspire people to, as Bishop John Shelby Spong aptly puts it, ''Live fully; love wastefully; and be all you can.''  This, I believe, is the heart of Jesus' message along with many other spiritual Teachers throughout history (e.g., Mohammed, Buddha, Ghandi, King and Mother Teresa).  This is something each of us has the power to do.  The result being better citizens, better partners, better spouses, and better children.  This is spirit in action.As a coach, one seeks to keep oneself out of the way as much as possible in order to let the client find his/her own answers.  The time spent with the client belongs to the client, not the coach.  Hence, many coaches find that having clients come to a session each week with an agenda is most helpful.  The spiritual coach should always be fully present to what it is the client is hoping to achieve by whatever spiritual, religious, and/or denominational means.  Spiritual coaching is like an emptying process (Greek: kenosis): coaches attempt to empty themselves of all preconceived notions, of judgment, of bias, etc. and in so doing are able to act as conduits or sounding boards with the clients' interests at heart as opposed to layering the coach's agenda on the client, thus hijacking his/her experience of finding truth for themselves.  Ultimately the client knows the answer.  It is often simply waiting to be retrieved, remembered or resurrected.    Is spiritual coaching religious? It certainly can be depending on the coach and the client.  Some coaches are more traditionally religious than others.  Tolerance is a huge part of spiritual coaching.  People should be met where they are and on what ever path they're walking.  A spiritual coach should be flexible enough to work with a client from his/her personal philosophy, faith tradition, and spirituality.  And a coach must certainly make extra room for the person who is not in touch with any spirituality, but is seeking one.  People wake up spiritually at different times and for different reasons.  Think about the times in your life when you've had spiritual experiences.  What were they like? What provoked them? How did they leave you feeling?To summarize, then, a spiritual life coach works with clients in facilitating spiritual growth.  By listening and asking relevant questions, the coach helps the client begin to find his/her way along a meaningful Path or conversely helps the more advanced client attain even greater spiritual depth.  In a world that is becoming less and less certain, growing and maintaining a healthy spiritual life is of the utmost importance.  People often find themselves drawing inward, looking for something beyond themselves when uncertainty is present.  It is the job of the coach to be thoroughly present to that uncertainty and help the client through the process.  Learning to live comfortably with uncertainty is one of the primary lessons we must learn as incarnated souls.Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Gavin Young has a M.A. in Systematic and Historical Theology from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. A second M.A. in Pastoral Ministry from The Franciscan School of Theology, also in Berkeley. His undergraduate work was in German, with a minor in English. Gavin is a Certified Life Coach through the Coach Training Alliance.Mr. Young's spiritual path has been richand varied leading him from the Presbyterianism in which he was raised, through agnosticism, New Age spiritualities with Wiccan and Pagan influences,and back to Christianity through Roman Catholicism with strong Quaker leanings. He's identified most firmly as a progressive Christian humanist and ecumenist, who attempts to promote "critical thinking and intellectual honesty."With his varied spiritual experiences and education, Mr. Young is uniquely suited to the particular practice of a Spiritual Life Coach.


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