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The magic of coaching

In the same way the resurrection isn’t just for Easter, personal growth isn’t just for January. But a new year does prise open a window to talk about a powerful tool that can help you and those around you grow. I’m talking about coaching.

Coaching is a huge and expanding industry. Search ‘life coach’, or ‘career coach’ on LinkedIn, and I’ll see you in April when you’ve finished scrolling…

For me, coaching is like magic. Being coached helped me find clarity in a season of life where there were so many options, and it opened up in me healthier and bigger ways of thinking about God, work, and the world.

I see this magic as I coach others, too. Vague hopes of ‘a more balanced life’ turn into real conversations with line managers, gym sessions, and date nights. Unhelpful self-talk that drags people backwards is replaced with language and images that help them move forward.

Forward is the key word in coaching. A coach helps people make progress by asking great questions, listening really well, challenging where necessary, and generally holding a space where insight can emerge and solutions be discovered.

From a biblical perspective, there’s a lot to like about it.

Genesis 1 and 2 paint a beautiful picture of human beings: priest-kings, endowed with dignity and responsibility – with freedom to choose, explore, and create. With its ‘I’m not going to tell you what to do’ approach to conversation, coaching honours that humanity.

It stands proudly in the question-asking tradition of Jesus. Jesus had all the answers. But as a master educator, he knew the importance of drawing out what was in others – creating possibilities to affirm the wonderful, challenge the unhelpful, and imagine alternative ways of being.

Coaching also implicitly challenges the ultra-individualism of our culture, recognising the power of conversation with a supportive other. Sure, there’s stuff we can do by ourselves, but some growth only happens in and through relationship.

Even if you’re just hearing about coaching for the first time, we can all use coaching principles to better connect with and serve people in our daily lives. In the conversations you have — as a church leader, manager, teacher, friend, parent, some other capacity — how might you utilise the power of questions and active listening to help people grow and move forward?

In a frantic and fractured world, where everyone has their angle, taking time to ‘draw out’ rather than ‘put in’ is a rare and precious gift.

Joe Warton
Joe is a coach, researcher, and writer – with a particular interest in discipleship. Find him on LinkedIn, or email [email protected].


  1. I am a big fan of coaching and Joe’s comments are very helpful. Coaching in the Bible is all over the place. Just look and see how often God and Jesus use questions and so increase understanding and commitment.
    Christian coaching stands out from the crowd of all the other coachings because of the explicit understanding that God is in the conversation as well, which changes the centre of the conversation.
    So yes, thanks to Joe for this apposite reminder of the power of coaching.

    By Chris Mackintosh  -  12 Jan 2024
  2. I put on 5 feet in the long jump at 15 years an excellent model on coaxing by my PE master.
    Wind on a long time, 7 of my 10 OU students achieved firsts.

    By Geoffrey Mercer  -  12 Jan 2024
  3. Great article, Joe.
    I’m a careers coach and see this as my Christian calling. It’s a privilege to be able to help people recognise their gifts, discern their purpose and realise their potential. One of my favourite lines is Ireneaus’s ‘The glory of God is a person fully alive’ and that’s been a kind of motto for me.

    By Rob Friday  -  12 Jan 2024

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