Your Life Mentor Creating Sacred Context

Explore the complexities involved in spiritually-based life coaching.

This course introduces participants to some of the complexities involved in spiritually-based life coaching. What language and images does the coach use? Which archetypes and archetypal patterns best help the client approach scriptural narratives? How can the life coach avoid imposing his or her belief system on the client? What are some of the tools for assessing a client’s spiritual maturity? Is it appropriate to pray with a client, and, if so, what form should the prayer take? What is “holy foolishness” and why is it an essential component of the spiritual life? What does one do if the client is from a different faith tradition than one’s own? How does the coach assess whether s/he is the right person to companion a particular client? These and other questions will provide the content of our explorations together!



WEEK ONE: Defining Spirituality –our own and that of our clients. Just because our client is Christian or may come from the same denomination that we do, there is no guarantee that we speak the same “language” or share the same images of God. As coaches, we must refrain from forming assumptions about our clients’ beliefs, paying attention instead to their language and imagery. At the same time, we need to avoid imposing our language and images on our clients, while gently inviting them to consider alternative ways of naming and imaging God. Questions: What is SPIRIT and what does it mean to be SPIRITUAL? Read Stages of Faith, 1-3

WEEK TWO: What does it mean to live with a sense of purpose/mission/calling and a relationship to something greater than we are? Can one be spiritual and not believe in God? Is there one spirituality, or are there different spiritualities? What are the hallmarks of a spiritual person? (for example, the Golden Rule, Mindfulness, Centeredness, Altruism, Service, Spiritual practices). Spirituality has both a horizontal and vertical dimension. It is about balance. Questions: What is the difference between Spirituality v. Organized Religion? (sacred story, ethics, beliefs, symbols, rituals, community, sacred space, music, movement, leadership) Read Stages of Faith, 4

WEEK THREE: Just as there are stages of human development, so there are Stages of Faith. Stages of Faith are often parallel to our development as humans; however, it is possible to be an adult chronologically but to have an infantile level of faith. Conversely, there are young adults who are spiritually mature – “old souls,” if you will. To be effective spiritual coaches, we need to be aware of these stages of faith and to recognize their characteristics in ourselves and in our clients. Read Stages of Faith, 5

WEEK FOUR: Exploring the client’s stages of faith via language, images, core beliefs and practices. De-coding the client’s spirituality via language and images. Fostering conversation around spirituality. Identifying the client’s expectations in terms of a spiritual framework: what is s/he looking for? Assessing whether one is the right person to accompany this client. How comfortable are you with the client’s religious language, images, core beliefs and practices?

WEEK FIVE: Assisting the client to identify life goals and transcend where s/he currently is developmentally, both psychologically and spiritually; assessing one’s own spiritual development. We cannot be of service to others if we are unaware of our own spiritual development. Developing a “plan of action” based on one’s spiritual developmental stage. Read Jesus the Holy Fool, Intro and Part One

WEEK SIX: Conventional faith v. mature Christian discipleship. Who is Jesus for our client? Who is Jesus for us? How does the archetype of the Holy Fool lead us to a more authentic faith? What happens to faith when it is controlled by the “establishment”? What does it mean to imitate Christ? How can we help our clients break free from conventional faith to embrace the path of “costly grace”? (N.B. We can only lead them to this place if we are willing to journey there ourselves!) Read Jesus the Holy Fool,55-135

WEEK SEVEN: Walking with our clients, especially when they are paying the price for discipleship! The reality is that the truly spiritual person makes choices which may place him/her at odds with the establishment. The seasoned spiritual coach must be willing to make similar choices if s/he is to accompany clients along the path to authentic discipleship. Discussion of JHF, 136-147: The Outcome of Holy Folly. Read Jesus the Holy Fool,171-242

WEEK EIGHT: Working with clients from various faith traditions: what must the spiritual coach know about these traditions? How might the concept of Holy Foolishness be useful when coaching clients from other faiths than Christianity? Wrap up of discussion of Jesus the Holy Fool. Assignment: Conduct a spiritual coaching session and identify the religious language and imagery that your client prefers. Listen to your client carefully and assess his/her level of spiritual development. What powerful questions might help your client move to a deeper faith? What goals is your client seeking at the present time? Are there additional goals that might help your client mature in his/her faith?

WEEK NINE: Sharing and assessment of coaching sessions.

WEEK TEN: Praying with one’s clients. How to use prayer as a tool for expressing intimacy with God and for inviting clients to move beyond rote prayer or transactional prayer. How to give clients the space to pray within the coaching session. How to pray with clients from different faiths.
Required Texts:

Stages of Faith, Fowler, James W., New York: HarperCollins, 1995
Jesus the Holy Fool, Stewart, Elizabeth-Anne, New Jersey: Sheed & Ward, 1999

Course Prerequisites