The Authentic Coach

As a follower of Jesus and a Life Coach, I'm sometimes challenged by the question of how to promote the types of services I offer. What methods work best with my personality type? How can I avoid the pitfalls of self-promotion while sharing my story? I believe these concerns arise from a desire to be a person of character, to honor God in all I do.While as Christian coaches our goal is not merely to gain a following, don't we all want to be surrounded by people who believe in us and speak highly of the service we offer? This begs the question, How can we live out and communicate who we are and what we do with integrity?

The Draw of Character.  While reflecting on the life of David, I came upon the following verse: And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. (‭1 Samuel‬ ‭22‬:‭2‬ ESV)‬‬‬ An instant following of 400 men...Not bad. Of course, David had already achieved hero status in the land. In fact, his fame was a big reason he was running from a raging king. What kind of men publicly associate with a guy hunted by a jealous king? In those days, potential followers couldn't simply hit the "like" or "follow" button. A greater, riskier amount of buy-in was necessary. One could assume these men had nothing to lose and therefore threw in their lot with David, but I believe they unashamedly rallied around him for certain reasons, much related to character.

1. David had a credible story. People want to follow a person of integrity, whose actions give them credibility. In David's case, it was often the testimonies of others that added to his credibility (1 Samuel 18:7; 21:11; 29:5). These people, from kings to paupers, told David's story, bolstering his good name in the land. What are others, particularly those we coach or mentor, saying about us? Are their testimonies helping our hurting our cause? As we encourage our clients to share their stories in the coaching session, what are some ways we can encourage them to tell our story as well? Do they know enough to tell it? While we can't control what others think or say about us, we can live out our stories in a Christ honoring manner, adding credibility to our character.

2. David lived out his values. He excelled at being a great warrior in King Saul's army and a loyal friend to Jonathan, the King's son. Honesty, loyalty, and courage were high on David's list of core values. He was convinced of these priorities for his life. As he invested his time and energy into these causes and relationships, his authenticity shined. Like David, living out our values may attract opposition and bring us some grief and difficulties. During these times, we might even question whether our approach is worth the effort. As our stories unfold, however, God will uphold our cause and establish us with a good name in the land.

3. David was his authentic self. What David offered was much more than a product or service. He gave his authentic self. He made himself vulnerable and transparent before God and those he trusted. That authenticity was judged as foolishness to some (2 Samuel 6:20-22), but ultimately it proved a strong foundation to his leadership. While what we offer as a service is important, the primary thing we give people is our authentic selves. We may feel inexperienced and ill-equipped to give our clients the support they need, but it's reassuring to remember we are offering much more than a service; we offer a relationship grounded in God's love and acceptance. Authenticity, including transparency and vulnerability, goes a long way in gaining the trust of our clients.

4. David met needs. Represented among David's ragtag group of followers were needs for community, purpose, protection, and hope, just to name a few. Likewise, our clients come to us with needs. Unmet needs can bring them to a place of feeling desperate. This doesn't seem like a great reason to follow someone at first, but people often choose out of desperation. Nothing else has worked. They have no creative solutions. Why not give this new option a try? What needs am I seeking to meet in the lives of those I serve through a coaching relationship? In other words, how will they be served if they work with me? What difference will it make?

Grounded in Character The authentic coach holds the power to draw people and resources into their circle of influence. Voltaire stated, "With great power comes great responsibility." How we harness the power of marketing, for example, is no small thing! Our character and integrity are at stake when we go down the marketing trail. Whatever methods we choose to implement, may we be constantly reminded that man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7).