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A Grandcoaching Adventure

A Grandcoaching Adventure
Posted on January 8, 2024

By Don Hawkins, D. Min.


Recently while I was speaking at a conference in Wisconsin, a grandmother came up to me and asked, “What can I do about all the bad things my grandchildren are being exposed to in public schools today, not to mention what they see on social media. I pray for them, but I feel like I really should be doing more.”


As we continued the conversation, I learned that this lady, Jan, had five grandchildren, two of whom lived relatively close by, while the other three were located quite a distance away. I shared that, for Kathy and me the same was true. Some live nearby, and we were able to see them fairly often. With others we were limited to occasional telephone or FaceTime contacts.


Since I have been working with a team at The Master Life Coach Training Institute, where we had just rolled out our 16-part GrandCoaching™ online course, I decided to try a different approach.


“Jan, would you be up for an adventure in ‘GrandCoaching™?’” And before she could ask what in the world I was talking about, I continued, “It’s a word we invented to describe an innovative approach to help guide grandchildren away from the anti-Biblical trends you’ve identified, and to motivate them in the direction of a life guided by positive, Biblically-based values.


“But what do you mean by coaching?” She asked. “Is that something like counseling?”


“That’s an excellent question,” I replied, “And one I encounter frequently. Actually there are both differences and similarities.”


Before we could pursue the concept further, the bell rang, signaling that it was time to begin the next session. So, we agreed to meet in the conference center lounge afterward to explore the subject further.


GrandCoaching™: A strategic tool

As Jan and I resumed our conversation after the final session, I reaffirmed her concern for the environment in which our children and grandchildren are growing up, and explained that this initiative by The Master Life Coach Training Institute was designed to provide a strategic opportunity for our grandsons and granddaughters to be nurtured in a way that would motivate them to live in light of the teachings of Jesus and the precepts of Christianity--love, compassion, kindness, obedience, self-control. In short, grandparents who choose to take this training and use these principles would be in a unique position to help their grandchildren make wise decisions guided by the Holy Spirit.


“So is this counseling?” Jan asked? If not, how is it different?”


My response to Jan was to offer her a window into the early meetings of the course development team in which our team had begun to craft an online course designed to equip grandparents to make a difference in the lives of their grandsons and granddaughters. Rodney Love, founder of The Master Life Coach Training Institute which also provides Faith-based life coach training for colleges and universities, seminaries and graduate schools in the United States and other countries, was and is still a member of that team. For years Rodney worked with pioneer Christian Psychiatrist Dr. Frank Minirth, where he and Dr. Minirth, along with several others with experience in both counseling and coaching, began using Faith-based life coaching alongside the practice of counseling.


As Rodney told our group, “I live in Texas. At one time the roads here were filled with stagecoaches. But I can tell you one thing stagecoaches never had--a reverse gear! Stagecoaches were always moving forward. And that’s true of life coaching!”


And that’s an excellent overall distinction between counseling and life coaching. In counseling, the therapist will often dig and probe to determine what painful issues from the past, perhaps bullying or abuse, may have contributed to pain and dysfunction in the present. In contrast, life coaches come alongside their clients to ask them cultivating questions to determine where they are in life, to help them formulate goals so they can move ahead successfully, and to encourage them and hold them accountable so they can succeed in fulfilling those goals.


Coaching with Christian uniqueness

I further explained to Jan how those who take this course will develop the skills to use the time-honored and -tested principles of life coaching within the framework of a Christian worldview.


“But does this actually change people?” she asked. “I have a cousin who spent a lot of money on executive coaching," she continued. "And he had some bad habits that the coaching never seemed to correct."


"I certainly understand your concerns about effectiveness and change," I replied. "And we don't offer ironclad guarantees. But let me share some real-life accounts of how we have seen Christian life coaching impact people and bring about significant changes for the better."


As Jan sipped her tea and I drank my coffee, I began to tell her about Bob and Emily Fontenot, who had worked with Rodney and Dr. Frank Minirth as part of a team of Faith-based life coaches at Dr. Minirth’s Ranch in Arkansas, as well as at his office. In Dallas, Bob told the team about Nancy and Chelsea, a mother and teenage daughter who had come to the ranch for treatment. Bob explained to us that, when Emily first started working with this mother and daughter, it seemed they hated each other. Emily added that it appeared that Chelsea just wanted to withdraw, while it seemed like her mother wanted to smother her.


Early in the coaching process, Emily explained that Nancy kept interrupting her attempts to get Chelsea to talk, so Emily asked the mother to give her some time alone with the daughter. Emily then focused on listening, and asked Chelsea a series of questions; Chelsea finally began to open up.


Over a period of time, Emily helped Chelsea realize that her mother was only human, not a tyrant, and that Nancy struggled with her own problems. Working with both the mother and the daughter, Emily helped them move from a broken relationship to a place where they could ultimately understand and express their love and respect for each other. Part of Emily's approach with Chelsea was to help her understand how to set appropriate boundaries and goals, her approach with Nancy was to help her understand the difference between her earlier role as a mother and that of the mother of a teenager nearing adulthood.


I concluded our conversation by telling Jan that, at The Master Life Coaching Training Institute, we have seen the significant change life coaching has produced in people of all ages and backgrounds looking for change in themselves, in their relationships, in their work, and in their connection with God.


“I’m interested in your training,” Jan concluded. “I’ll pray about enrolling in the course. I need to do something to help steer my grandkids away from some of what I know they are being exposed to in school and online.”


Coaching effectiveness for anyone

The other day I received an email from a pastor we had contacted about evaluating our 16-part GrandCoaching™ course. He responded with great enthusiasm but added "I just have one major criticism. You guys have focused on the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. Why are you cutting out the parents? They are the ones God ultimately holds responsible for sons and daughters."


I responded to him by agreeing that parents have the ultimate responsibility, but we had considered the following factors in focusing on grandparents. Grandparents are:


· More likely to have strong Christian values and principles since they are older and from an earlier generation.


· Typically not as busy as a parent today who juggles parenting with a career, sometimes multiple jobs, which presents a significant challenge to finding the time to coach their children.


· Increasingly a higher percentage of grandparents are comfortable using online tools and applications for a variety of purposes.


· Generally are not involved in the day-to-day, give-and-take in the home, which often leads to conflicts that hinder communication, thus putting them in a position to speak truth into the lives of grandchildren.


Along that line, years ago I recall Zig Ziglar asking, “What do grandparents and grandchildren have in common?" He answered his own question, "A common enemy--the parents!" A humorous observation, but sadly, often true.


Is GrandCoaching™ for me?

Since the coaching model taught by The Master Life Coach Training Institute is a Biblically- based approach focused on being and making disciples, we believe every Christian, especially parents and grandparents, can benefit from life coach training. Three characteristics essential to be a Faith-based coach are to have:


1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith in Him.


2. Personal integrity as defined by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, Christian leaders should be “blameless” or “above reproach.” Because coaching is a ministry that deals with people, personal integrity is important. That doesn't mean perfect, but it does mean a life of integrity.


3. The ability to see potential in others and offer positive encouragement to help them move toward agreed-upon goals.


I'm thankful for grandparents on both sides of my family who were able to see potential in me, and who, despite not having the benefit of life coach training, encouraged me to avoid life's pitfalls and fulfill my God-given purpose.


Might this training not help you accomplish the same purpose with your grandsons or granddaughters? It’s an adventure you can share with them.


*****


Don Hawkins, D. Min. is the Chief Content Officer for The Master Life Coach Training Institute and the President/CEO of Encouragement Communications. He hosts the Saturday evening call-in program “Encouragement Live,” and has authored over 25 books including Master Discipleship Today, Friends in Deed and Never Give Up.

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