Usually we end that with “of babes” at those times when our young children say the funniest, most embarrassing, or cutest things. Be careful – it doesn’t go away. My young adult daughter is visiting this evening and as she was getting ready to go I commented “I’ve got to write a blog tonight – but I’m not sure what to write about.”
She picked up an old photo from my desk and handed it to me saying “Your Christening”. I’m always one for a challenge, so let’s see. Hmmmmm. How does a Christening relate to coaching?
Oh, OK – I can do that!
First, for those who aren’t familiar with it, a Christening, or baptism, is a Christian rite where a person is incorporated into the universal church, the body of Christ. The water, words, and actions of the sacrament are visible signs that convey the Christian’s burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ.[i]
Second, I want to assure you that these Christian steps and words are by no means a requirement in coaching. I am simply using my personal understanding as a minister as an analogy of what often happens in coaching. This blog is not meant to be exclusionary, nor is it meant to impose Christian believes on my clients or anyone reading.
There are several parts of the service in my UCC tradition. And, yes, they definitely relate to coaching in general and to the women I coach.
- First, the Invitation and Welcome. The invitation pays special attention to the one being baptized, his or her parents, and “Godparents” (traditionally those named to take responsibility if the parents are no longer able to care for their child, and in recent times those named to help the parents raise their child in the Christian faith.) as they are invited “front and center” around the font of water. As a coach, my client is always the most important, and many of my clients acknowledge that the support of family and friends is instrumental in reaching their life goals.
- Next is the Address – the pastor speaks to those present. Some of the words spoken may include “Unless we are born anew, we cannot see the reign of God; unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter God’s new order.” Unless we are born anew… In a sense, that is what is happening in coaching as we use our values based vision to pull us toward a new way of living and being. Water and the Spirit are powerful symbols in the Christian tradition. Clients will always find their own unique symbols that inspire them, that encourage them, that bring them joy.
- The address is followed by questions. That’s what coaching is all about! You who experience coaching in any way will come to understand that coaches know that our clients are the experts of their own lives. They just haven’t yet been asked the questions that will lead them to the perfect answers.
- Congregational Assent – This one’s a little harder. The coaching relationship is between the coach and the client. Although the people involved in the clients life are likely to be referenced, those people are never called upon to give their consent within the coaching collaboration. Yet, as I read the words typically spoken by the minister, ask the congregation to give their love, support and care to the one being baptized. So, yes – the analogy still holds. Most of us need this in our life.
- Affirmation of Faith – these are specific words the parents, godparents and child if old enough would all speak. They are words that affirm their beliefs and understanding of their faith. In coaching the coach affirms their client’s courage, stamina, honesty and much more when it is held forth boldly. Even more important is the Client who is able to affirm for themselves the choices they are making, the changes they are implementing, and their own belief in themselves.
- Throughout the service there is prayer. I always pray when coaching – at the beginning a simple “Help me be open to all that my client brings today, and help me to be the best coach I can be!” During the session when I say something that’s across my lips before I’ve even thought about it, or I find words to say that are tremendously powerful to my client, I give thanks to the universe for giving what I need right then. I never know, or rarely know if or when my clients are praying. It’s not a requirement in coaching. We are all unique individuals with our own ways of connecting with the divine if we so choose.
- The Act of Baptism – the minister pours water on the one being baptized as an outward and visible sign of what is believed to happen on a deeper spiritual level. As a client, I have recently been working on evolving into something other than what was – fancy way to say trying to be a better entrepreneur. It’s an awful lot of inner work and inner conversations. My outward sign that I can do this is a little book my daughter gave me many years ago. The title is Mom, You Rule; and when you push a little button it says “You Go Girl!!” It’s a symbol of being successful in another challenge in life and encourages me along right now when I need it. It’s my sign to be strong and persevere.
- The service ends with An Act of Praise. Yes, we do celebrate all the wonderful wins that happen in coaching! Whoo Hooo!
So, thanks Charlotte for the challenge you gave me. It’s fun when I find the ways that Rev. Lee and Coach Lee overlap and intertwine.
Enjoy your week everyone! Make it a great one!
[i] Book of Worship United Church of Christ, 1986 (United Church of Christ Office for Church Life and Leadership, New York), 129.