Why I Coach

by Father Ian

Dear Brother in Christ,

I’m so grateful to be a priest! And what an amazing journey it’s been!

In thirty years of pastoral ministry, I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of fellow clergy in the Vineyard. I’ve had the great honor of working with colleagues whose skill and deep faith left me in awe – and I’ve had the sad duty of sitting in judgment of a few of my brothers who, somehow, lost their way.

In all of this, one thing is clear: so many of my brothers – these fine, idealistic, fervent servants of Christ – suffer isolation and often the attendant loneliness that is only known by one who daily must stand up and witness to the truth, come what may. His decisions must be right, his behavior impeccable, and his selflessness complete.

If you’re reading this, doubtless you’ve experienced this variety of loneliness. I’m not speaking of the existential kind – after all we’re never truly alone in Christ. I’m speaking of the “loneliness at the top.” You’re faced with decisions, crises, possibilities and yes, temptations, that you alone must confront and act upon because, well, you’re the leader.

I’ve seen clergy and lay leaders (and bishops) spin their wheels and agonize – sometimes to the point of failure —  over questions that could have been sharpened and clarified in an hour or two of conversation. (I recognize wheel-spinning because I’m a past master of it.) But they had no one to talk to; there was no disinterested third party who could artfully ask powerful questions to focus their thinking and build confidence.

That’s why I became a coach. My own journey gave me a heart for supporting clergy in critical moments of their lives and pastorates: starting a new project, entering a new phase of ministry, pivoting toward or away from full-time service, looking ahead to retirement, confronting a challenge, dealing with conflict, and overcoming a rut or plateau — all of which I’ve faced personally.

Coaching gives clergy a space — away from superiors, peers and faithful — to explore and clarify options according to their own goals and values. Uncertainty and procrastination die away as clergy prosper and thrive — while pastors and parishes reap the benefits.

Please do explore the rest of this website, including the “general public” pages. If my message resonates with you, let’s talk. The first one’s on me.

It’s an amazing journey. I’d be honored to accompany you, as a brother and fellow traveler.

In His love,
Father Ian

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