Big Milestone

After 2.5 years in training through Professional Christian Coaching Institute, including six classes, many peer coach sessions, five hours of mentor coaching, and 50 hours of paid coaching hours, I’m delighted to receive my certificate. I am now a Certified Professional Leadership Coach!


Lasting Out the Winter

Winters are tough. It is jolting in late winter to feel, once again, the blast of cold wind as you step outside. You have to clear your sidewalk of snow, one more time—at least you hope. And you have to concentrate on your icy commute.

Winters are hard on honey bees, too. As a former beekeeper, I visited my snow-covered apiaries in late winter. I checked to see if the bees were starving. I’d tip each hive to evaluate, by weight, if the bees had enough honey to last the winter. What a loss if they starved before spring!

People have winters, too. I remember a long winter of discontent. I was depressed and frustrated. My work load was daunting. I met bad news at every turn. I felt depleted.

A friend helped me last out the winter. He asked about my health. He asked about my finances. He wondered how I was doing with God. His voice was kind, and he wanted to know.

Then he asked even more questions—helping me explore my discontent. He prodded me to think about issues I’d rather avoid. When my answers were vague, he helped me clarify.

I felt accepted and loved, part of a community. My world became bigger. I saw new possibilities. I began to hope.

Good coaching does two things.

  • Coaching tips the hive. Is there enough food to last the winter? Coaching is a safe way to face reality.
  • Coaching feeds the hive. When I found a depleted hive, I fed sugar syrup, tiding the bees over until spring. By exploring solutions and developing action steps, coaching feeds hope.


Life Balance

In a class about leadership coaching, I learned a fascinating theory. Christopher McCluskey, president of Professional Christian Coaching Institute, developed this theory about life balance.

Picture a triangle with three words at the corners: worship, work, and play. Other than sleep, most of what you do each day falls into one of these categories.

Worship is glorifying and enjoying God. You can worship in church services, personal devotions, acts of service, watching a sunset, or hearing the laughter of children.

Work includes employment and duties around the home. While work can make you tired, it can also invigorate and refresh you.

Play is different for each person, but it is far more than relaxing. Play feeds your soul. Reading books, exercising, and sports all require your effort. But they also give you something back.

When worship, work, and play are in balance you find fulfillment, growth, and peace. But what happens when they become corrupted?

You corrupt work when you worship it, when work, not God, is your focus and security.

You corrupt play when you “work” to play. If you don’t know how to play or value it, play won’t feed your soul.

You corrupt worship when you “play” at your worship. When you don’t take worship seriously, God can’t fill you. Your spirit will starve because you’re not feeding on scripture or drinking of his Spirit.

So, if you worship your work, work at your play, and play at your worship, your life is out of balance. An imbalanced life is an accident waiting to happen.

So, get into balance. When you are at worship, forget about work. When you are at work, stop dreaming of your next vacation. When you are at play, embrace it without guilt.

To be balanced, be where you are–at work or worship or play.



Aha Moments

After 35 years of individual, couple, and family counseling, I’m expanding my toolbox of people-helping through professional coaching. In some ways, the two fields are similar. The goals of both professions include serving people and helping them be all they can be.

But there is one important distinction. Counseling is often directive, but coaching is not. Coaches refrain from advice-giving. They explore issues deeply and widely—and ask probing questions. These queries might explore the past, the future, patterns, and values. What led up to this? Where is this going?” patterns “Have you ever been in a place like this before?” or values “How do personal values influence this?”

There is good reason to refrain from advice-giving. Author and professional coach Tony Stoltzfus writes “Generating options by asking the client to think instead of offering advice or solutions is one of the most important coaching skills.  .  . Your job is to push them to think things through farther than ever before, not to do the thinking for them.” When they come up with the options, they are much more motivated to follow through with action.

I’ve experienced the potency of non-directive coaching myself. When my coach refuses to offer advice but instead asks questions that broaden my awareness, it is startling how often I experience “aha” moments. When these moments are followed by identifying action steps, obstacles, and accountability, I am energized to act.

If I can be helpful to you, please be in touch. You will find more information on my website at www.stevepswartzcoaching