Category Archives: Community

Being Available: a life coaching journey

2015 has been a challenging year. Part of Atlanta Arts Network is a fundamental commitment to be involved in the lives of others.  I get the privilege to be engaged in “Life Coaching” worship leaders.  I meet with a variety of men, some more frequently than others. This part of ministry to leaders is significant as it provides a way for me to see God speak into the lives and situations and see practical results.

The challenging part in discipling another person, it is often that you get the most out of the process. Life Coaching isn’t just a one sided event. It is often that I learn and grow along with the person I am coaching.  Many times God reveals something or some area I need to grow in just by showing up.  For example, when I listen to a leader share a story about their church, I am many times in the midst of a inner struggle to connect with them. Honestly the struggle is there because I am mostly a self focused, prideful, and distracted person.

Let me create a scene for you. Imagine a table at a local BBQ restaurant, where a worship leader is sharing the latest in a drawn out story of church disfunction and pain. I’m sitting there listening to them share how painful it has been this past week. Buzzzzz. My iPhone vibrates and my mind wonders if there is a problem at home? Are my children ok? Is my wife in a tough work situation? Do my I need to help my parents with a computer problem? I wonder who it is?

I refocus my mind and think…. I wonder what they just said. I figure out a way to get them to explain more. “Tell me more about how that made you feel.” ….. Whew, dodged that embarrassing moment.  My friend continues to share more about the situation and I listen on. After about an hour, we both realize it is time to head back to work. I’m wondering how long its gonna take me to get back to my home office through Atlanta Traffic.

This is exactly what many conversations are like, for me as a Life Coach. I battle to stay present and help. I don’t know if you find yourself in situations where after meeting with a friend you ask yourself, I wonder if I did any good at all? I wonder all the time. Exactly what are they getting from our time?

As I think about the last year,  the different appointments I’ve had, the situations that I have learned about, and the relationships that have been built, I am realizing there is something to showing up. Just being available.

I would like to think that every appointment is a homer, that every problem is solved, that I am able to get my Life Coaching Notebook out and design a clear plan of action for each person. I would love to see the clear progress and change: Needs getting met, Goals set and Plans put in motion.

But the truth is…. I’m just happy that God has been faithful to use me as a Life Coach. I am grateful that by just being available, I have seen friends encouraged, tough situations get better, and God is using our time together to make us both like Christ.

Getting results from a Life Coaching appointment isn’t as important as us leaving seeing God at work. I desire that we leave a little more hopeful and committed to pray faithfully for each other. I hope that just by being faithful to connect we continue to move forward on the journey.

We both grow, imperfectly yes, but toward a better understanding of God’s will and purpose for our lives.

May the next year be a time of continued growth toward Christlikeness in you and in all those you care for.  Yes God is excited that you have just been available!


Life Coaching and Worship Leading

photoJohn* came up to Pam one Sunday after church and shared how much he liked music and wondered if he would participate in our worship.  Pam being one of our volunteer worship leaders, said sure, why don’t you come up on Saturday morning when we have our rehearsal, I’ll give you some music, you can sit by the piano or in the front row and sing along.  Once I hear you sing and figure out where you are maybe you can participate.  John, showed up Saturday, eager to sing.  It was apparent that he didn’t have much musical training.  I was volunteering to lead that week, and also leading the rehearsal.  You would think that having this type of individual join a rehearsal would completely mess everything up.  Actually in another church, or situation and even earlier in my time at St. Paul’s, it would have been quite the challenge.

This kind of thing isn’t new to Pam, who has taken on new developing musicians like lost kittens at times.  I certainly don’t have the knack for either attracting or helping people in this situation.  Honestly, it gets in the way of me running a rehearsal.  This week, as I led the rehearsal, I watched with interest in how Pam was interacting with John.  Other people have come to mind, such as James* who came to sing and participated in our worship, sometimes taking part by doing a reading rather than singing.  Mike*, came and sang as well, and as with the others, didn’t have as much training and needed to develop more as a musician.

As I have watched Pam, I began to think about Saturday morning rehearsals as a place for mentoring.  It certainly didn’t help with efficiency of time and quality of music, however it “smelled like Jesus” (to take a phrase from author and radio host Steve Brown). I might have thought that these folks would be better served through individual voice or music lessons, but bringing them to practice created an all together different dynamic.  As these individuals came and went through our congregation, I realized that in God’s eyes taking the time to help someone learn to sing, was just as important as providing quality music for service.  The rest of the worship team began to see that people were also important.  They learned by seeing Pam’s example.

By providing a way for a singer to come to practice and try to sing with us, even when they might not even sing on a sunday, they were able to see the gospel in action.  Who merits the grace and favor of God? Not me! None of us.  This thing called church and worship music isn’t about my performance anyway.  I say that all the time.  Could it be that the father is just as happy with their singing as mine?

In taking time to love people who are interested in music but may not have the ability now or maybe ever, still is an approach to people that acknowledges their being created in the image of God.  They have have value no matter their skill.  Taking time for them both musically and personally Pam is modeling what our ministry, WDA, calls Life Coaching.  “Meeting people where they are, helping them take the next step”®

I learned something these past few years watching my colleague take time to love someone practically during our rehearsals and sometimes even in our services.  “Come on over next to me on the piano and sing.”  What a great example to me and to others of the gospel at work.

Thanks Pam for teaching me how to love and showing me a practical way to bring others into community!

*John, James, Mike are fictitious names for actual people. There are probably many more!

For more info about Life Coaching visit the WDA website: Life Coaching part of WDA’s 28/20 Project.  

The New Normal

Art TalkAs I was finishing up my notes for Saturday’s workshop, a new pope was announced. Many of my Catholic friends rejoiced on Facebook at his choice of Pope Francis I as his papal name, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his life of poverty, his love for creation, and his commitment to reconciliation and service. My friends shared their hopes that this name would both reflect and urge a new era for the Catholic church.

It made me think about just how much the values of simplicity and service are being called for in our society, in response to excesses and errors of the past. And sometimes simplicity involves greater sacrifice than excess, at least at first.

My other big passion in life – after Jesus and the arts – is sustainable farming. I know, that’s a weird one for a New Yorker. But I wasn’t always a New Yorker, and I probably won’t always be one; and there are plenty of us here with this passion anyway. My husband lives in fear that I’ll come home one day and announced that I’ve “bought the farm,” literally. Until then I plant my non-GMO tomato seeds in compostable paper cups in my Queens apartment, to eventually be planted in a small plot in a community garden.

I’m also a regular at the Union Square Greenmarket (a farmer’s market you’ve seen if you watch much Food Network). Although it’s pricier than a grocery store, I buy as much of my produce there as I can afford, because I believe in what those farmers are doing and I want to support them. I believe that my financial sacrifice will, in some small part, reap benefits for the environment, for society, and for my own heath. If enough people are able and willing to make those kinds of sacrifices, then the excesses of the past will be absorbed, and healthy, sustainable food production will become “the new normal.”

Not only do I sacrifice to help reverse my society’s excesses, but I also sacrifice to examine my own excesses. If I pay $4 for a single tomato, I eat it simply and observe it carefully. I don’t take it for granted, and I remember it then next time I’m tempted to pay the same $4 for a Big Mac, super-sized-fries, and jumbo Coke. I might be more engorged by the Extra Value Meal, but am I enriched by it?

I see something similar happening in the arts. We’re in the midst of a sea change in how the arts are being made and sold, and we don’t know yet what “the new normal” is going to look like. But it will definitely involve sacrifice, by many, to usher a new, more productive state into being. And I believe – very strongly – that the artists of the church have a lot to teach to the mainstream arts world about what sacrifice, service, and simplicity can look like.

The season of Lent is also about voluntary simplicity, in preparation to honor the sacrifice that took away the sins of the world. Would that all of our sacrifices had such power.

The arts world needs us right now. More than ever. And that’s exciting.

We’ll talk more about it Saturday.