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."