Friday, October 09, 2015

My Life Coaching Journey and the Concept of Christian Support

As an at-home mom looking for purpose in the mid-2000s, I'd been muttering, "Lord, show me my purpose and path."

When I saw this book in the grocery store of all places, it shouted at me. When I saw the author was connected to Saddleback Church I REALLY knew it was for me.  Here's why:

Saddleback Church

Saddleback was a church planting leader in the 80s. Rick Warren, the founder, trained pastors.  The pastors of my church in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada introduced my fiance and I to Saddleback. 

For our honeymoon June '91, we chose to drive down the coast of California from San Francisco, ending our second week at the Saddleback Church Growth Conference in Laguna Beach, CA. And that is when Saddleback took root in my heart. 

Rick Warren was the leader of the Purpose Driven paradigm of the mid-90s and author of Purpose Driven Life written in 2002. 

Katie Brazelton 

By the time I was looking for purpose beyond motherhood in the 2000s, Katie Brazelton was about to release the above book.  Brazelton was a licensed minister with Saddleback Church and director of women's Bible studies. Seeing on the front cover she was associated with Saddleback I knew it was God connecting me.

I discovered Brazelton was about to hold a chat forum on the Christianity Today website so logged in. There I learned she had a life coach training program.  I was ecstatic because I'd recently been introduced to the concept of life coaching.  I was blown away that she had a Christian-based training program.

At 4:00 that day, I received a personal phone call from Katie Brazelton to my home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada from Laguna Beach, California! God shouted purpose at me that day.

Trying to Share My Dream 

I attempted to share my epiphany with a staff leader and others at the Winnipeg church we were attending at the time, but was rebuffed.  They had no ears to hear. One leader never did return my phone call.  I think the concept of life coaching was too foreign to most of them. And so I shrunk down not knowing what to do with this message I'd received from God. 

I asked if I could be considered for a leadership scholarship the church had for women to help pay for my coaching fees.  Their policy was any woman who received the scholarship would have to use her skills to serve the women in the church for a year.  I would have loved nothing better than that.  But I was told the scholarship program had just been discontinued. 

Life Purpose Coach Training

So I signed up for coach training anyhow fully aware the church was not behind me.  I cleaned offices to pay my way.

I confess my part.  As a slightly introverted person I may not have communicated my mission well or gotten to know key leaders well enough. 

I had moved into Winnipeg only a couple years before life coach training. Ingrained churches are often very skeptical of newcomers. Their skepticism might have been at play. If they could only walk in a newcomer's shoes they'd see it. 

Their church policies were also a blockage. I could go into more details, but I won't. But it was then I realized there was no support to be found in the church. I would have to do my ministry outside the church.

Bloom Where You're Planted? 

I just read an article by a pastor accusing his congregation of not being willing to bloom where they've been planted.  He assured them they were there not at his church out of coincidence but out of God's plan. If he really believes that, I hope he will not put obstacles in front of those that do want to bloom!

If it is really true that God places us where he wants us to bloom for his reasons, then our churches should stand behind us to help us bloom, not create policies or nurture skepticism. 

When support doesn't happen in the church, sadly, we look elsewhere.  I have cohorts on Facebook in various groups and a few cohorts locally.  

Trying to Go it Alone

I tried to go it alone, but it was hard.  Above is a poster I created for a group I was to hold at a Christian bookstore. We'd buy the books from them and we'd get a corner to hold a discussion group in.

I paid for posters to be put into bags. The bookstore staff promised they'd stuff them into Christmas purchase bags and keep a list of any signups. I drove around town hanging posters in grocery stores and libraries.  I posted a notice in the newspaper.  

The group was to be in January. Two weeks after Christmas I returned to the bookstore to check enrollment. The stack of flyers was still there in the bag I'd left them. They hadn't given any away!  I was angry. 

Then, a week before the group was to start I received a phone call telling me the bookstore was closing down. There would be no spot for my group! I was out over $100 (of money I earned cleaning offices) for the advertising, and no one cared but me!

Who Applauds You?

Though I'd looked for a team who would applaud and encourage me I didn't find it. I met with obstacle upon obstacle. It was tempting to give up.

I had to remember no one else had been given the calling and vision I had.  But it was hard to understand why God would call me and not give me the support I craved. Especially as an introvert, I really needed support!

I still had a few contacts with other coaches trained with Life Purpose Coaching Centers, though.  Diane Cunningham pictured below is still a support. 

She now leads the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs. She understood going out on your own as a life coach needed support. (If you're a Christian woman entrepreneur, feel free to join NACWE.)

I Dare to be Brave 

I share this story now because I have no fear to tell it. It's my story. I actually hope some of the unsupportive people read it to hear my point of view.  If you think it's negative, go ahead and walk away. I don't care anymore about what unsupportive people think.  

I did lead a nice group of women who gave me this gift.  

Recently I came across a blog where the author asked this question:

Who claps when you win?

We need to be the type of people that clap for others, and we need people in our lives who will clap for us.  

Do you have friends like this in your life? Will it mean joining an organization and paying a membership fee to get the support you need? 

If you're in a group or club, are you careful not to talk negatively about others?  Are you careful not to be self-centered? Do you show appreciation for other's ideas?  Do you promote others?  Do you notice their Facebook posts and add positive comments?  

Where might you find friends who are quick to celebrate you, the steps you take and whatever accomplishments you embark on? 

Start a Movement 

This is a fresh idea I'm putting out prematurely, but what if we started a movement of sharing and caring.  What if we started small groups where we can meet with like-minded women who will support us?  

I'm not talking business networking.  Yes, there is great support in networking groups.  But there is always someone there who is too sales or business focused.  

I'm not talking Bible study group. 

I'm talking about a group where someone applauds us when we tell them we got our basement cleaned? I'm talking about a group where someone supports our business idea. I'm talking about a group where we get the floor to share our obstacles and hearts' desires, and to have confidence that those we share with have our back.   

Am I naive to think people need this?

What might we call this movement?  Let me know.