the power of active listening

 image from I'm thick into a new leadership training program called CoachNet where I'm learning how to help others draw out their God-given potential and purpose.  It's a very "other" centered way of leading and, I have to say, it's very refreshing for my soul.  Coaching, according to the scope of CoachNet, is all about enabling others to identify and articulate what goals are most important for them and what it is that they need to do in order to accomplish those goals.  And the refreshing aspect is that I don't need to tell them what the answers are, but, rather, I am supposed to help them discover those answers for themselves.  As the coach, I don't come at someone as the expert, but as one who considers them the expert of their own life and who believes that they have within themselves the ability to pursue what they've been created to pursue.

Through this training, I'm learning the power of active listening.  In other words, the coach asks a "coachee" open-ended questions coupled with sincere ears.  The coachee, in return, goes through a process of reflecting and reviewing, all-the-while, moving towards deeper discovery and articulating more-meaningful action plans for their life.

As I've practiced being the coachee and now as I begin practicing being a coach (in training), I can't believe I've spent 19 years in pastoral ministry without deliberately utilizing these simple principles.  On many levels, this is the basis of how I've always approached people.  But I think I would have been even more effective in the thousands of life-changing conversations I've had with others if I had more intentionally exercised "active listening."

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

One thought on “the power of active listening

  1. Ken,
    I agree with the concept – is this not what Jesus did when he met Peter and asked him “do you love me?”. This is not an easy skill for us to learn, in a society that values giving answers.
    However is there a theological conflict with the concepts that “I am the expert of my own life” and “I am able to pursue what I have been created to pursue” and our sin nature?
    How does a Christian coach, introduce a Christian worldview into the dialog? Where do concepts like Creator and Creature, sin and forgiveness, obedience, Spiritual gifts, being led by the Spirit, etc. fit into the model?


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