If you’re a church planter, you’re a coach. Your ministry days are filled with helping others succeed in their work—both as volunteers and as staff—in the life of your church. This month and next I’ll teach you two quick acronyms which can help increase your coaching capacity. This month’s acronym: WAIT.
WAIT means: Why Am I Talking? That’s a short way of saying that good coaches don’t dominate the conversation. They listen, they pause, they nod. They listen empathically (rather than pathetically!), by trying to get inside the frame of reference of the one they’re coaching. Steven Covey said that effective people “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”.
Good coaches avoid autobiographical listening. You can guess what that means: they don’t feel an incessant need to tell their story when someone else is telling theirs. Nothing shuts down a coaching moment sooner than autobiographical listening. A number of years ago my wife, Lori, injured her foot severely on a trampoline. (OK, I bet you want to tell me about someone you know who was injured on a trampoline, right?) The summer she was on crutches was tough, but not just because of the injury. It was tough because everyone had their crutches story to tell. It was wearying.
How can you apply WAIT in your coaching moments? Besides slowing down and listening, learn to ask good questions. My standard is that 75% of what comes out of your mouth should be in the form of a question. Rather than saying, “That’s a stupid idea!”, put it in question form. Ask, “Where have you seen that work before?” And so on.
WAIT sets the mood for good coaching. Next month I’ll tell you about GROW, which will be your template to guide your conversation. And I’ll give you examples on how you can implement good coaching in your church planting venture. But you’ll have to WAIT for that!