One-on-One Coaching: Self-Discovery Leads to New Purpose
As Christian life coach Deb Mertin works with leaders she draws on a unique personal perspective, having herself transitioned to professional ministry leadership after 25+ years in the health care field. “Some clients are new to leadership and are seeking to clarify their vision for ministry,” Deb says. “Others have held leadership roles for decades, and are often tired or have lost the fire and drive they once had.” Deb focuses on helping leaders move from where they are to where God wants them to be, regardless of their circumstances.
One of her favorite tools is Ministry Insights’ Leading From Your Strengths profile. As leaders discover their strengths, Deb says, “They are without exception delighted and surprised, often invigorated with a new sense of self-understanding and purpose.” That’s what happened when Deb worked with Jerry.
Data Leads to Self-Discovery
Jerry had been a pastor for 30 years. When he first connected with Deb, his self-reported confidence level was 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10.) Jerry increasingly struggled in the pulpit and grappled with growing feelings of inadequacy as a pastor. The stress was taking its toll.
As a way to gather objective data, Deb asked Jerry to complete the Leading From Your Strengths profile assessment. This 10-minute online questionnaire produces a personalized, detailed 20-page report describing individual behavior patterns, specifically highlighting areas in which the individual exhibits strengths. Its perceived accuracy by users is 92.1%. Deb knew that Jerry needed unbiased, trustworthy information to discover his strengths for himself and chart a new strategy to use them.
Data Helps Connect the Dots
“Jerry’s report provided startling, yet concrete data about the way he naturally processed people and information,” said Deb. He scored nearly a 10 (out of 10) as an optimist (one who is friendly, outgoing, and trusting of others), excelled in communicating, and was an excellent teacher. Yet the numbers showed that Jerry had to make significant adaptions when he shared information in front of a group.
“Do you have any idea why there is such a large discrepancy between your obvious excellent communication skills – and the adaptation you make when speaking in public?” Deb asked him.
Jerry was silent for several minutes, but finally answered. “I can’t read properly,” he whispered.
Jerry went on to share with Deb that he had dyslexia, a learning disability that impacts how he recognizes and processes words. When speaking one-on-one or extemporaneously, Jerry thrived. When he needed to refer to his sermon notes, he struggled to read the words. For years, Jerry had kept his dyslexia private. He was finally able to make the connection with his hesitancy in the pulpit and his energy drain. The weekly effort – and his privacy– required an overwhelming exertion for him, leaving him exhausted and frustrated.
Data Helps Chart a Purposeful Course
When Jerry decided to share his disability with his congregation, he was overwhelmed by their acceptance and empathy. Soon he identified skills he could acquire to become more fluent in public speaking.
“As Jerry set about directing his attention to cultivating his strengths he stepped out into a whole new kind of freedom,” said Deb. Where he had once focused on his weakness (speaking from a text), Jerry now focused on his strength (his friendly, upbeat interactions with people.) His attitude moved from one of defeat to buoyancy. His ministry flourished. Just as importantly, Jerry was experiencing an overwhelming sense of purpose and satisfaction as a pastor. When Deb last spoke with Jerry, his confidence level had moved to nearly 10 out of 10. Rather than let his weakness defeat him, Jerry was learning to lead from his strengths.
Deb cites the overwhelming satisfaction she witnesses in being a part of a leader’s journey and the privilege she enjoys in taking part in the process. “I have seen it over and over again with my clients,” said Deb. “As a leader discovers his unique strengths he also finds a new or renewed sense of purpose … and experiences the power of God working creatively through him.”