I just finished reading the book Puzzling Symptoms by Clifton K. Meador, where one of the statements was that 40% of all diagnoses by a doctor are incorrect. We’ve actually experienced the frustration of that first-hand in my family. When I look at this situation through the lens of what I know as a coach and coach trainer, I see that what’s really needed across the medical industry is better listening skills. Doctors must take the time to listen deeply and gain the context and only then should they make their diagnosis.
In his book Managing Transitions, Williams Bridges writes that something like 60-70% of all attempts to implement a new plan fail, and I’m sure a lack of listening is wrapped up in that as well. I wonder how many pastors have misdiagnosed the next steps or strategy for their church, or led their team through a failed plan – all because they didn’t listen deeply enough to have the complete picture. I know I did. The most important situations where pastors need to apply deep listening are:
- Listening to God
- Listening to your team
- Listening to those you see for pastoral care
Over the next few weeks on the Coaching4Clergy blog, we’ll look at each of these situations where pastors can and must apply deep listening skills in order to be the most effective. Let’s look today at listening to God. While most pastors would not state this publicly, many if not most of us have minimal time to listen to God. In fact I would call that one of the hazards of ministry; we get so caught up in the doing of ministry that we don’t get our own time to just be with God. Jesus would walk away from great opportunities for ministry to just go away and be present with God in prayer. It’s time that we all do this. We know how to listen to God. We know that God speaks to us in a variety of ways, for some it’s as we read and study scripture, for others it’s complentative and meditative as we’re in silence. For others still it’s when we’re in a small group, studying together. It doesn’t need to be complicated. One of core competencies of coaching is to practice deep listening with those you coach. In a coach approach to ministry we also want to listen to the divine and really hear deeply what God is telling us.