Intensive coaching: Lessons Learned

Intensive Coaching:  Lessons Learned

Steve Draper, MPD Team and Collegiate, Virginia

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  In January 2013, an EDGE staff, Jess, stood at the foot of a “fundraising mountain,” feeling that reaching the summit of full funding would be impossible.  I agreed to be her “Sherpa” for a time to guide and encourage her along the difficult ascent.  Here are lessons I learned about an “intensive coaching” relationship.

I needed to initiate our communication.  And I did every time.  Since Jess was constantly initiating funding calls and appointments, she felt deeply encouraged that I initiated on her behalf.  She and I connected five times a week, usually by phone, but sometimes by email or text.  (See Roger Hamilton’s “First 15” article in this issue of Coaches Connection.)

My role as coach revealed a spiritual battle.  Jess’s ministry was on the line, but many days, I struggled with fatigue and a whiny, self-centered attitude at the thought of calling Jess.  The battle for both of us was real, and I knew I needed to fight for her.  The symptoms usually disappeared as soon as Jess picked up the phone and we began to talk.  But it was real at the time.  I discovered my will to fight this spiritual battle.

Reviewing fundraising skills was important.  We discussed and practiced these skills:

  •      Phoning for an appointment
  •      Conducting a face-to-face visit—specifically the financial appeal
  •      Asking for recommendations of other people to talk to
  •      Phoning to follow-up an appointment to see how God had worked
  •      Telling interesting ministry stories
  •      Making smooth transitions during presentations
  •      Working through the funding cycle with “strangers” who were recommendations from current ministry partners or friends

Helping maintain courage and hope became the biggest piece of coaching.  At times, fear and other emotions threatened to win.  Yet, reminding Jess Who was walking with her through this effort quickly turned things around.  Scriptures that emphasized His sovereignty and presence with her helped the most.

Once, after we reviewed what God had done through her funding efforts, she exclaimed, “Yeah, well, apart from how I feel, I guess things are going pretty well!”  It became an often-quoted statement between us.

Humor and prayer diffuse discouragement and fear.  I always ended our conversations with prayer – always.  That may have been the most powerful coaching tool.  And then we confirmed the time of my call the next day.

Jess walked a difficult road.  But through it, she was remarkably able to trust Him.  I take no personal credit for what God did in Jess’s heart or ministry account.  Yet, simply having someone beside her sparked light and hope where there had been darkness and fear.  Daily calls dissipated discouragement.  Jess found hope in her heart – at least enough to get through another day’s funding assignments.  And, for this, He used a coach.

Contact Steve Draper via email at

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