This month we’re going to focus in on coaching the calling journey— the life stages and transitions we go through as we move toward our ultimate call. Thinking of call as something we move toward in stages–the calling process–opens up all kinds of interesting opportunities for the life coach. Rather than coaching everyone to find and follow their destiny now, we tune into what stage the person is in and coach around God’s agenda for that stage.
The Calling Journeycontains a calling timeline model that lays out four stages and three transitional valleys that describe the calling process–the typical road to one’s call (a portion of Abraham’s timeline is shown above). In Abraham’s first stage, Natural Promotion, he choose to “go to the land that I will show you” and journeys out into the unknown to follow his call. During this first stage, God opens doors to us, we grow by leaps and bounds and his grace seems to be on just about everything we do.
When I am coaching leaders in this stage of the calling journey, the key phrase is, “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” God’s agenda here is less about us getting on the career track than getting on the calling track. This is the time in life where we learn we can do anything with God–to dream big, to take the adventure, to live boldly. Since God is teaching us to step out on a limb for him and believe, I want to encourage people to dream, do, and think outside the box.
However, when Abraham arrived at the promised land, something interesting happened. His obedience brought him to a land in the midst of a famine. No sooner had he arrived in the land of promise than he was forced to leave it and take refuge in Egypt. In that difficult season he had to deal with feeling God had let him down and with nearly losing his wife.
The Natural Promotion stage of the calling journey is usually followed by a difficult season I call the Valley of Dependence. Here God’s agenda and the circumstances he uses to teach it to us make a dramatic shift. While the first season was about that I can do anything with God, the Valley of Dependence teaches me I can’t do anything with him. The favor we’ve had drops away, maybe our devotional life dries up, we can’t find a ob or a dream dies. God seems to remove some of the grace that made our life work, and we find out how big the task of making to our calling will actually be.
For the coach, a key task here in the calling journey is perspective. When we have thought all our lives that we’re going to move steadily onward and upward to our calling, the first big shaking really shakes us. Helping the person place what they are experiencing as a normal event in the developmental process God takes leaders through is tremendously helpful. I am less about coaching people to live out what they feel called to do than to meet God in an intimate way in a time of difficulty.
This is just one example of the difference understanding the timeline for the calling process can make.
Tony Stoltzfus is a coach, author, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute.