Behind the Scenes: Life Coaching

     It was about a year and a half ago when I met with Maurice, a parolee looking for advice and guidance. Over the years, I have met with hundreds of inmates and parolees for the same concern:

“Where do I go from here?” Their needs are physical, mental, and spiritual. But when I met with Maurice, I sensed a little more desperation than usual.

     “As of right now, I feel like I have two options: Kill myself, or cut off this ankle bracelet and run until they catch me… and then kill myself.”

     I said, “How about we also consider some options that don’t involve running away or killing yourself? Are you open to that?”

     “Yeah... I guess.” He said.

     “First,” I said, “I don’t believe that you believe these are your only two options. Because if they were, you wouldn’t have called me. Second, I think that down deep you know there is a better way, and all you are really looking for is how to discover it.”

     Maurice’s eyes softened, and I knew that he knew I was right.

     “That may be true, but I don’t know where to start to figure it out,” He said.

     At that point, I began to explain life coaching to him: how we do it, how it works, and why it works. I then asked Maurice if he would be willing to give it a try. He said he would.

     We then spent about an hour laying out the plans for our next five sessions. We talked about God’s plan, and Maurice was able to list several reasons why he should not run away and why he should not kill himself.

     For the first few weeks though, Maurice would still arrive at our sessions in a state of depression and discouragement. He was dealing with a lot of anger and frustration with the requirements of parole and how he felt stuck here in Colorado. One of his long-term goals was to someday be allowed to return to his home in Kansas where he has some family support and better opportunities. Those decisions were out of his control, and from the way he was describing his meetings with his parole officer, Kansas was not a part of their plan.

     But as our meetings continued over the coming months, I noticed a distinct change in Maurice’s attitude and outlook on life. In one of our sessions, he even seemed perplexed about it.

     “I’m not as anxious as I used to be. I don’t get angry like I used to. People aren’t upsetting me anymore. I still have a lot of challenges every day, but they don’t seem to wear me down. I don’t know what is happening to me.”

     “I know what it is,” I said, “We’ve been talking about it and asking God to help you with it, and you’ve stopped working against it. It’s called transformation. I see it in your demeanor, and I hear it in your voice. You’re not the same man I met over a year ago. You are changing, and you are becoming who God designed you to become.”

     He didn’t say much, but I knew he recognized it. The smile on his face made that plain.

     Around that same time, Maurice began to ask if there was anything he could do to volunteer.

      “I want to do something. I want to give back. I want to help other people.”

     So, he started helping with our ministry. He attended our church, helped where he could, and continued to stay steady in his walk with God. Then a few weeks ago, I got a text.

     “I was wondering if you are going to be in the office sometime in the next couple of days. I wanted to see you before I move. I was approved to go home to Kansas, and I’m leaving this Saturday.”

     All of a sudden, the past eighteen months with Maurice flashed through my mind. I had the joy of watching him transform from despair to hope to tangible success. And I thought to myself, “That was fun. I think I’ll keep doing this.”


     When I started my training to be a life coach a little over three years ago, I thought it might be a nice tool to have in my ministry toolbox to help others. The more coaching I do, the more I see it as the foundation for everything else I do in ministry. The following are a few keys as to why it works so well.

     Coaching is the process of coming alongside a person (or team) to help them discover God’s plan for their life and ministry and then cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that plan become reality.

     Life coaching is not training, consulting, counseling, or mentoring

     Life coaching is listening and discovering

     Life coaching is future-centered and solution-focused

     If you have interest in finding out more about becoming a life coach, and/or possibly joining our team of volunteers, please email me, and I’ll be happy to discuss.

Monthly NewsletterGary Skinner