Tom says his best coaching sessions often consist of him asking about three questions over the course of a 45-minute conversation. By the end of the time, his colleagues will often say, “Wow, those were great ideas!” – only Tom didn’t share any ideas at all, he just asked a few good questions.
There is something deeper going on than just asking questions, though. Tom believes that a good coach gives space for people to listen to the Holy Spirit. He says, “Giving them the time to say ideas out loud often opens up new horizons and new discoveries.” Questions help draw out a vision of where the Holy Spirit has been at work and where He is leading.
The coaching program at Encompass developed out of a difficult season in the ministry of Tom and his wife, MaryAnn. Their team had shrunk from seven down to just the two of them, and they felt very alone.
As he tried to decide what to do next, Tom thought, “Surely someone ought to be able to help us. There must be someone who has been through this before.”
After some discussions, Tom launched a coaching ministry focused on two primary ideas:
- I am broken – sin is far-reaching and I still need fixing.
- I need your help to get to where God wants me to be.
Or, in Tom’s words, “Can we journey together as we do this mission to which God has called us?” He didn’t want anyone to feel as alone as he and MaryAnn had felt.
Just eighteen months later, every deployed Encompass staff had the opportunity to have a coach who was trained to ask good questions and provide a listening ear. Now, Tom has the benefit of a partnership with other Encompass colleagues as he leads the program, and now four Encompass staff have the associate coaching credentials and are considered certified coaches.
Missionaries are often self-starters who do not always lean on others for help. Part of Tom’s job is to convince people that coaching is valuable and will multiply the impact of everything they do. As time has gone on, the Encompass global staff has largely embraced the coaching model.
Tom’s dream is to see the program become self-sustaining and organic, with well-trained coaches and global workers who don’t need matching because they proactively seek out the coaching relationship.
As they continue to work toward that dream, Tom and his fellow coaches are encouraged by the positive impact of their ministry on the global staff. Like the Barlows, the art of asking questions, listening to each other, and giving room for the Holy Spirit to speak is something everyone can do to help one another go further – in life, in ministry, and in our journey with Jesus.
Here’s a good question. How are you participating in global missions? There are several ways that you can help further the mission of God. Why not start the conversation with one of our mobilizers today to see how you can find your place in global missions.
Watch this video to learn more about Ministry Coaching at Encompass.