In the 1950s polio was the dreaded diagnosis. One Sunday morning back then, Palmer, my ten-year-old brother, woke up complaining of “a headache or a neck ache, I can’t tell.” Before the day ended, he was diagnosed with polio. Between the rural hospital where he was diagnosed and the polio hospital in Boise, Idaho, he asked Mother, “Will I be a cripple all my life?”
“Palmer,” she answered. “I don’t know. We will do the best we can and trust God for the rest.” And they did. Her answer, reflective of the way my parents did life, comforted him and infused me and my siblings with a faith in God.
Recently, a client shared her struggle with “parenting” her adult children. Her well- meaning advice was not well received. She recognized she could no longer treat them as children, but she still wanted to have an influence in their lives.
As I prayed for wisdom for the right response, I thought of my mother. I asked my client if I could share a story, and with her permission, I did. It was one single incident that still today influences my life. As I finished the story, I asked my client, “What story are you wanting to give your children by the way you live your life?” As I waited for her response, I saw a smile slowly spread across her face and a light sparkle in her eyes.
As coaches, we’re in the business of helping people create their stories. Also, as Christian coaches, we are living and demonstrating the impact of God’s story in our lives as we interact with our clients.
Some of us coaches also write. As a writer, one of the basic things we learn is that a story has a beginning, middle and end. Somewhere between the beginning and end there needs to be three arches, where tension builds to a climax and resolves to the satisfaction of the reader.
The Bible is this way. It tells the History of humankind. “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis. 1:1) and all was very good. We read how humans went from bad to worse until God destroyed all He created, except the only righteous man, Noah and his family. The second climax comes when God sends His son, the Redeemer. In Revelation, a preview of the third climax, all the loose ends are tied up, and history ends to the satisfaction of those who read His story.
The Bible tells many stories of people like you and me, how they interacted with Him, following or rejecting Him as they chose. We learn their conflicts, their questions, their doubts, and the consequences of their choices.
As coaches, we know questions prod a client to think beyond the boundaries of their own thinking. The what, when, how and occasionally the right why questions most often are our main tools, but not the only tools. Sometimes people need a story to identify with.
Your life is full of stories and maybe it’s time to pull them forward, dust them off and have them ready to use. Peter in his first letter says this:
“…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15.
It’s something to consider.
- Think about the people who have directly influenced your life? What was their story and how does it influence you?
- Who are the people whose stories you have learned through books or movies have impacted your life, and in what way?
- What specific characteristics did they exhibit that you want to develop?
- What specific characteristics do you want to avoid?
Lila Shelburne is an author and professional life coach. She received her coach training through Erickson College and is a member of CCNI. She and her husband served as missionaries in Alaska before authoring two books. She is a certified biblical counselor, Christian life coach, and Bible teacher. Married over 40 years, she is mother of three and G-mother of five. Lila is victorious in grief over the loss of her daughter by murder. She particularly enjoys coaching individuals in spiritual growth, finding purpose, and finding life after grief from loss or trauma. Visit lilashelburne.com for more information.