The Coaching Approach to Growth

The Coaching Approach to Growth

A while back I was agonizing over how to fund a new venture. Do I raise money, and spend the added time to form a board and do books for a non-profit? Do I enlist investors and give up ownership in the organization? Or do I take out a personal loan (which I find distasteful) and run it as a business? Several self-imposed deadline had come and gone, and I still couldn’t decide.

Finally I sat down with a friend, a successful businessman who’s also a coach, and asked for help. He thought for a moment, and then responded, “I think you know in your heart what the answer is.” Darn! I wanted him to tell me what to do! So I steered the conversation back around and posed the same question in a different way. Tim though for a moment, and then gave me an identical reply!

I was frustrated to not have an answer, but his coaching also left me feeling strangely empowered to face my decision and make a choice. On the way home, God spoke to me: “If you don’t have the confidence to invest in yourself, you’ll never achieve what you are capable of.” When I talked it over with my wife, I found that God had spoken to her, too, and we made a great decision together to move forward.

Why take the time to help people figure out their own solutions when it’s so much easier to tell them the “right answer”? It always seems to take longer to help people think things through than it does to do the thinking for them. So what’s the benefit of Non Profit Growth taking a coaching approach and asking instead of telling?

This story is a great example of the power of coaching. Here are six things Tim accomplished by asking that never would have come from giving advice:


  • Empowerment: By not telling me what to do, Tim sent a powerful message: “I believe in you! I believe you know what to do. I believe you can hear God on this. You can make a great choice.” His belief in me gave me the confidence I needed to make a decisive choice.
  • Ownership: Because I made the decision, I owned it. It was my choice. If Tim had told me wha t to do and it didn’t work out, then whose fault would it be?
  • Motivation: When people come up with their own ideas and solutions, they are most motivated to pursue them. Tim’s approach produced the highest possible motivation in me to move forward.
  • Leadership Development: Tim’s approach compelled me as a leader to take responsibility for living out my call. By pushing me to grow in responsibility, Tim helped me grow as a leader.
  • Growth in Hearing God: Tim challenged me to hear the voice of God for myself. By strengthening my ability to hear God, he’s impacted every decision I’ll make from here on.
  • You Could Be Wrong: I gave Tim three options: that means any advice he gave me would have a two-out-of-three chance of being wrong. You won’t realize how often you discernment about others is wrong until you stop giving advice and start waiting to see what God actually does!


Tony Stoltzfus is a nationally-known Christian life coach and trainer. He works with senior leaders worldwide through [] to help them engage God in difficult circumstances, clarify their callings and craft convergent ministry roles that maximize their impact in the Kingdom. In addition to co-founding the largest Christian life coach training school, Tony is a well-known author and speaker on coaching, small groups, and leadership development.

As a trainer, Tony uses a highly-interactive, adult learning approach to deliver practical tools that produce inner transformation. Tony has delivered nearly 100 coaching workshops, hundreds of tele-classes, and written a dozen coaching courses used everywhere from churches to graduate schools. He has also launched an Open Source Coach Training movement to bring professional coach training materials to non-profits and missions organizations.

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