Coaching and Christianity (144)

This episode continues John and Gregg’s conversation about John’s excitement around coaching and lack of enthusiasm for Christianity. Yet Gregg proposes that this may actually offer positive orientation for John’s engagement with Christianity.

Gregg believes that there are many Christians in a similar position to John, such that they are excited and enthused more by baseball, their hobbies, their work or their volunteering than by their engagement with God or the Bible. Much like their discussion of “biblical illiteracy” in episode #54, Gregg believes that John’s lack of enthusiasm for Christianity is not a problem but may be the symptom of some other issue.

To begin with, John explains that he both coaches others and is coached himself. Gregg wonders: what is the “value proposition” for John in coaching?

John explains that the core tenet of the “co-active coaching” model is personal transformation. In this way coaches are much more hands-off than, for example, accountability partners or personal trainers. Thus coaching aims are empowering clients to learn more about themselves en route to becoming the “best versions of themselves.”

John acknowledges that Gregg sees personal transformation as core to the Christian faith, yet John experiences coaching to be much more effective in this regard than Christianity!

To clarify the coach’s role John explains that, unlike a consultant who offers advice, the coach offers clarity, guidance, structure and techniques. Further, a key component to successful coaching is lack of judgement on the coaches part, in part because the coaching model views people to be “creative, resourceful, and whole.”

Gregg reframes the lack of judgement as full acceptance, and reframes the emphasis on client choices as taking full responsibility for oneself. So Gregg sees coaching as “road testing,” and sees the coaching model’s view of people as being very close to a biblical anthropology (such that people are often creative enough, resourceful enough, and whole enough to make good choices, not simply “fallen and sinful” and so only making bad choices).

And where Gregg sees the coaching model as empowering clients and helping them believe in and embody their self-worth, John agrees and believes that coaching is the most effective means to bring this about.

Yet here again Gregg sees great continuity between coaching and Christianity. For example, Gregg argues that the type of road testing that can be perfected through coaching is perhaps the ideal method for adjudicating between various biblical interpretations that, on the basis of exegesis alone, appear to be equally valid.

When John pushes back on the notion that Christians cannot orient themselves by asking “Who do I want to be?” Gregg strongly demurs: he hunches that 95% of those Christians who would believe this also find baseball, their hobbies, their work or their volunteering to be more interesting and compelling than their Christianity!

So Gregg claims that if trying “to love God” by mustering the emotions simply does not work, then this should be seen as a valid indicator that mustering emotions is not the right way to be approaching the matter.

Thus Gregg argues for the need within Christian theology for a sufficiently nuanced and viable formulation of the “greatest commandment.” So Gregg references Paul Ricoeur’s definition of this command as a “poetic” command.  Similarly, Gregg sees as highly problematic the need that Christians have to explain the truth of their beliefs, by way of apologetics, to outsiders. In other words, how did one become a Christian if one did not believe already that Christianity was (sufficiently) true?

John finishes by noting that when situations in our lives “are not working” it’s usually best to vocalize it, both to ourselves and to others (and so to have someone who will be able to listen and help you with investigating the matter. Further, in seeking to improve things (rather than simply complaining) we are actually moving toward transformation.

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