Proceed to Highlighted Route

-Guest post by Sue Querfeld 

I needed a way to figure out how to get onto that route and start making the correct turns to make my way home.

A few years ago I had to take my daughter to get some immunizations.  We managed to find the doctor easily enough, but coming home was another story. 

Somehow I got turned around and was not sure where I was or how to get home.  One thing I WAS sure of, though, was that we did NOT want to cross the bridge into Philadelphia, so I got off the highway at the last exit before doing that and ended up in Camden, New Jersey.  Camden is NOT a nice place to be lost. 

I pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store and wondered what to do.  Then I remembered the GPS on my phone.  We had been out of the country for several years, so the phone and all its bells and whistles were new to me.

I managed to find the GPS and even type in the address where we wanted to go.  It did its thing and a route was mapped out.  The voice said, “Proceed northeast on Maple Street.”  Umm, sure.  First of all, I could not PROCEED anywhere, as I was at a standstill, facing the wall of a building. 

Secondly, which way was northeast?  I’m a left-right kind of person.  Unless I’m on the coast and know which ocean it is, I am NOT going to know which way is north, south, east, or west.  And lastly, I could only presume that the street in front of the store was Maple, but there was no sign to indicate that.  Sooo…. 

That GPS had all the information I needed to get home, but I did not know how to get started.  I needed a way to figure out how to get onto that route and start making the correct turns to make my way home.

That happens in other areas of our lives as well.  We have a goal, and even know a lot of the steps to reach it, but we don’t know how to get started.  Coaching is the piece that is missing.  A coach can help us access the information that we already have so we can find the route and get started.  And sometimes, just like on a GPS, there are several possible routes to take.  A coach asks questions that open our minds to new ideas, revealing more possible routes to reach that same goal.  

Just as we sometimes run into unexpected obstacles when we are driving—construction, heavy traffic, debris in the road—that cause us to have to make a detour, we often encounter unexpected circumstances in our daily lives that make us have to adjust on the fly, changing our plans to accommodate a new situation.  Through an ongoing relationship, a coach can help us find the best way to navigate those unexpected detours and still reach our goal.

GPS is only a tool; the driver is ultimately responsible for choosing the route and for getting the vehicle safely to its destination.  The same is true with coaching.  A coach asks questions, points out things that perhaps we have not thought of, and helps us to think in new and broader ways, but in the end we make the decisions about what steps to take to move toward out goal. 

It could be, though, that those questions and the new insights that arise from them are just the thing we need to get us started on the route toward achieving our goals.

–Sue has served over 20 years in church planting, discipleship, and coaching in Peru.  She coaches in both English and in Spanish; certified ACC.

10 goals for a coaching series

If you were to make one change in your life that would move you forward in living out your calling, what would it be?

What would you like to accomplish, as we coach together over the next few months?

The exciting thing about working with a coach, is that you, the coachee, set the agenda. Some might not know where to start. The following are some of the actual goals our coaches have worked with. The options are endless to grow personally and professionally, whether you are head of a large organization or a new mom partnering in ministry.

  • to keep up with the pace of life and do it well
  • to gain clarity regarding possible future move
  • to develop trust and understanding between myself and a co-worker
  • to lead ministry area to discover a clear, compelling vision for our future
  • to rediscover who I am in God, a healthy identity in my new role
  • to establish healthy patterns & practice of biblical rest
  • to more effectively and clearly communicate
  • to move forward in ministry while processing deep grief & loss 
  • to manage communication with supporters
  • to prepare and carry out discipleship training program

A coach can help you manage a stressful or ambiguous job, think through life balance, or clarify something that has shifted. Coaching can provide a framework to take action towards your own goals.

Look here to get started.

(Coaching series questions adapted from materials by Creative Results Management.)

What happened next

After the scolding, I took a few days to reflect on the underlying causes and the environment of our conflict.  And I developed a few actions steps.  So I did what I decided to do: I made a greater effort to listen to both of my colleagues, I apologized to Z____ for making a significant decision without him, I called the pastor of the mother church and asked for his advice and mediation, and I bathed it all in prayer.

By listening to my younger teammate, I was able to gain additional perspective on what was happening and I learned that this was not primarily a problem of what I had done or said.  I still needed to apologize for the thing that I had done, but I knew we needed external support.  I spoke with the pastor of our mother church.  We had launched a church plant with the agreement that our leadership team of three was under the spiritual authority of the elders of the mother church.  So going to the mother church was a clear call to help us move forward.

I explained to the pastor what had happened, and he also heard from the other two members of the team.  I asked him to lead us in a meeting of reconciliation: an opportunity for each of us to lay our grievances before each other, to listen to those grievances, and to decide how to move forward in our relationship.  The pastor agreed, and he scheduled a meeting for the three of us, plus him and one other leader from the mother church.  I knew this wouldn’t be an easy conversation, but it was an opportunity for us to honor one another and also an essential step in the life of our small church plant.

At this point, no one in the church outside of our spouses new that there was a conflict in our team.  But the three of us could not continue to lead the church unless we found healing in our relationship.  Beyond relational healing, the conflict revealed that we also had some significant differences of opinion about how to be a church.  We obviously needed to work through these differences and re-establish a shared vision for the church.  It was not a given that we could do so, but in any case the first priority was a restored relationship.

On the day before our meeting, I received a call from the mother church pastor.  He said that Z____ had cancelled the meeting.  I asked him when we would reschedule.  He said, “David, I’m not sure we will reschedule.”  I said, “But, we must!”  I believed it was absolutely necessary that we at least have a meeting to attempt reconciliation.  But the pastor said that it probably wasn’t realistic.

I knew  this meant that we had lost a teammate. Indeed, it was so.  Z____ never returned to our team or worshiped with our church again.  We never had a meeting for reconciliation.  Our church leadership was now a team of two, and we worked closely together for several more years.  The church continued to grow.  I think I became a little more quick to listen and a little more quick to offer and to seek forgiveness.

Reflecting upon what happened

Last week, I shared a story about a conflict between myself and my teammate. One day after the worship service, he commanded me to sit down and began a litany of complaints against my leadership over the past few years of working together. I argued a little, but mostly I listened.  I was stunned to see him step out of character, and out of the cultural norms I had learned from Japanese culture.

Over the following days, I reflected upon what had happened:  How long had I been causing offense to my colleague? Why hadn’t I noticed signals of tension in our relationship?  What was at the core of this conflict?  What should I do now?

How long was I causing offense?
By listening to my colleague that day, I learned that my words and behaviors had caused him consternation for at least a year.  He brought up things I had said or decisions I had made months before the current conflict over how seats were to be arranged during our worship service.  As I considered this, I realized that the tensions had escalated after a third person joined our leadership team.  It was not just about him and me.

Why didn’t I notice signals of tension in our relationship?
I felt so dense.  I had no idea that he was growing more and more frustrated with me. As he spoke about some of the specific issues, I began to see how some of my actions had made him to feel this way.  I thought I had been working hard to show him respect and appreciation, but I realized I had been taking him for granted.  I expected him to speak up when there were problems between us, but he was following cultural norms by not pointing out my mistakes or bringing up complaints to my leadership – until this fateful day when he couldn’t hold it in any longer.

What is at the core of the conflict?
As I thought about why my colleague was so upset, and how my own behaviors contributed to the problem, I gained a stronger framework from which to view the situation.  I determined that the primary conflict wasn’t between him and me, but between him and the third member of our leadership team.  There were a host of assumptions, communication patterns, and a culture clash at the root of this to which I had been oblivious.  Of the three of us, I was the only non-Japanese.  But this time it wasn’t primarily about the brash American who couldn’t fit in.

What should I do now?
In the knowledge that I was not in control of the outcome and I was not in control of how others would act, I identified several action steps:
-make a greater effort to listen to both of my colleagues
-apologize for some specific wrongs I had done
-call in help from outside our team.
-forgive my teammate for ways that he had wronged me, whether or not he ask for me to.
-ask & expect Christ to use my actions and the actions of each member of His body of this glory.

And that is what I did.  If you want to know the rest of the story, please post a comment!