Coaching Your Way Through the Scriptures – The Man by the Pool of Bethesda


Photo Credit Vlado

As we’re in the high holy season of the calendar, I thought it was a good time to look to the Scriptures for our coaching lessons.

The pool of Bethesda had healing properties and people gathered there to cure their ailments. In John 5:6 we learn that Jesus visited the pool and saw a paralyzed man who had been lying there for many years. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?

This is often referred to as an insensitive question, but it’s actually a very powerful one, and one of my favorite questions that Jesus asked.

The man responded by pointing to everyone else, complaining that no one would help him get into the healing water, placing the responsibility on them to put him in the pool. Jesus doesn’t condemn everyone else, he tells the man to pick himself up and get into the pool. He’s essentially saying, “This is your responsibility. You can do this yourself.”

The broader story here is that we need to be placing responsibility where it needs to be placed. So many churches are incredibly codependent and enable unhealthy behavior. The question Jesus asked, “Do you want to be well?” models healthy boundaries and a way of relating. He’s not enabling the man by being afraid to be a bit edgy and ask a tough question.

How did the man respond? He got up and picked up his bed and began walking.

What are some challenging questions you could be asking? Where do you need to take more responsibility? Where do other people need to take more responsibility for themselves, and will you challenge them to do that?

Here are a few of my favorite challenging questions:

• What is the truth about this situation?
• What’s the best use of your time and energy today?
• What will you no longer tolerate?
• What will it take for you to become part of the solution?
• What rules or traditions do you have that keep getting in the way?
• What kinds of problems and crises do you keep attracting?
• What consumes your time to the point that it distracts you from attaining your goals?
• Where and when are you playing it safe?
• When are you most likely to become defensive?
• What are you pretending not to know?
• What’s the cost of not changing?

I’ve had the experience of working with clients where the simple question, “So, what’s your responsibility in this?” relieves them of weeks of torment, as they had been trying to solve a problem that was not theirs to solve! How can you get the man or woman in your story to walk to the pool?

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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