It seems that everywhere you look these days, someone is talking about their experience with “my life coach.” Some had business goals to be achieved, others mounted an offense against bad  habits that needed to be broken; some wanted to create a management strategy  at work ; others to discover ministry within their church; and, of course there is the ever obligatory 15 extra pounds to lose.  These seemingly disconnected things that a life coach can help you accomplish illustrate the breadth of issues that coaching covers and the uniqueness of coaching as a methodology.

These individuals did not seek out pastoral counselors nor did they look for a mentor. They were not in need of someone to disciple them and, did not need spiritual direction. They sought out a life coach for specific reasons which we will explore. We will look at what coaching is not before delving into what coaching is and why you would choose a coach over other professionals. I will do this by presenting to you the following fictional characters who need professional help reaching their goals:

Ava has a host of spiritual wounds from various traumas from her childhood. While she was able to stuff them down over the years, currently they are interfering with her ability to do her job. Tired of laboring under these burdens, her desire is to be spiritually and mentally healthy, healed of her past hurts. She is a Christian who wants to be useful in the Kingdom of God. Ava goes to her pastor for pastoral counseling.

La Reesa has shown herself to be an exemplary employee at her company. She takes initiative and has proven herself as a solid performer. Terri, La Reesa’s upline manager has been observing La Reesa and begins to take her under her wing developing her as a manager. With this kind of mentoring in place, La Reesa will be on the fast track to the C-suite.

As a new believer, Chester had a thousand questions and, it seemed that within each of these questions were a serious of sub-headings. Who could he interrogate? After much consideration, Chester began attending his church’s adult Bible study. The instruction was very approachable and the teacher, John, seemed pleased to answer Chester’s questions. One day, John asked Chester if he’d like to join a discipling group that he also taught at the church. Jumping at the chance to mature in his faith, Chester joined the group and really enjoyed the solid instruction in the Word. Finally, his questions were being answered. He could feel himself growing spiritually.  

The 2000’s had been very rough years for Harry. He believed that he had been called to full-time ministry. He continued to mourn the sudden death of his sister in 2005. The business that he was sure that God had ordained for him to create was floundering. And, his loving family seemed on the brink of shattering. A friend suggested that Harry seek out a spiritual director. Harry didn’t need another person to tell him what to do! On the contrary, Harry’s friend advised.  The spiritual director would help him to discover where God was in all of this so that Harry could get back on a strong spiritual foundation.

The Grotto was part bookstore and part restaurant started by the twin brother and sister team of Brandon and Beverly. It was their passion. With the economic downturn of 2008, the business began to falter. Brandon and Beverly knew instantly to hire a business consultant who would interview them and review everything about their operation. After analyzing the various aspects of the business, the consultant would draw up a plan for them to start a turnaround for their venture.

Finally, Freesia wanted to be able to take advantage of the early retirement benefits at her company. She didn’t know where to start. She did know that she wanted to be an active participant in the process of creating a life plan for this next phase. Who could help her take ownership of her desired outcomes and hold her accountable to move this project forward? Freesia was advised by a friend that her life coach had been perfect in a similar situation. Therefore, Freesia hired a life coach.

Each story above illustrates the different kinds of professional relationships that can help people accomplish their desired outcomes. Let’s examine life coaching from the standpoint of who sets the agenda, how they do it, what role the coach plays, and the goal of the client.

Who Sets the Agenda Unlike some of the other modalities, the client sets the agenda in coaching? The first session is usually exploratory to establish what the client is trying to accomplish.

How They Do It The coach uses a proprietary protocol the steps in which are set by the International Coaching Federation (IFC).  There are proficiencies in questioning, listening and challenging in a non-judgmental way which are part of the coach’s toolkit. Therefore, the coach is a trained professional who is an expert in the process. (Unlike some of the other techniques mentioned above, the coach may or may not be an expert in the area around which the client wants coaching. Our job is to draw the client out using this process).

What Role does the Coach Plays The coach plays the part of partner, challenger, and one who gives affirmation helping the client to move forward toward his goal.

The Goal Of The Client When a person comes to a coach, there is something eluding them that they want to apprehend. The client wants forward movement toward their goal. Although life coaching has been associated with words like “authenticity,” “integrity,” “showing up as their authentic self,” life coaching has come a long way from self-actualization.  As you will see below, here are…


  1. I want to lose 10% of my body weight before I get married
  2. I want to get married in five years
  3. I want to improve my communication skills with my children
  4. I’d like to manage from a collaborative work style
  5. I’d like to submit my sales figures a week before they are due
  6. I’d like to spend 10% less money monthly
  7. I’d like to own my own home in three years
  8. I want to become more creative
  9. I want to turn my current hobby into a business
  10. I’d like to discover my spiritual gifts and learn how I can use them to function in ministry
  11. I’d like to become a stronger leader in my field
  12. I’d like to write and publish a book in two years
  13. Design and launch a teleclass
  14. Regularly save for retirement
  15. Learn to make decisions based on my core values
  16. Go back to school in two years
  17. Discard items cluttering my house in three months
  18. Sharpen my personal profile so that I have a shot at getting into the college of my choice
  19. Start a landscaping business next summer
  20. Strengthen the bond between family members that I’ve lost touch with

As you can see, the issues are as varied as there are people.  Some you will recognize as “hot buttons” in the culture like the decluttering and organizing. Others are extremely personal. Topical certifications within coaching circles are increasing. I have certifications to coach creatives, those contemplating retirement (Retirement Options™), and those looking to identify their spiritual gifts. Although a coach does not need to be the expert in the client’s requested topic, sometimes it helps to facilitate the asking of powerful questions which are the foundation of any coaching conversation. Summarily, the coach is a trained professional who can help you reach your goals

Elaine Cody
Cody Clarity Coaching
[email protected]