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  • Writer's pictureJonathan.Crabtree

Coaching by Walking

In my limited free time, I found between moving towns in the US and then overseas to the UK, I trained to be a life coach. Over the last six months of weekly zoom calls, recorded practice coach calls, and learning the Socratic questioning skill set, I finally achieved one of my goals in becoming an internationally licensed coach with a specialization in general life coaching, as well as coaching burned out clergy and emerging Christian leaders. I’ve logged over 250+ hours of coaching in 2021. In this new year, I’m looking forward to walking beside more folks and coaching. Will that be you?

I often ask myself, “How did I get here?” And in this Christian liturgical season of Christmas leading to the Epiphany, an unexpected surprise has finally revealed itself to me while wandering through the dark and hopeful nights of Advent. Are you ready for it? Here it is: Walking.

Not running or sprinting, but simply walking. That’s how I got here. (Well – of course, I took a plane to travel overseas.) Walking is foundational and essential to the English way of life. People walk (and run/exercise) all the time, it seems. Recently, our family took a walk close by at what’s called the Clifton Downs. It is a rather large area within the heart of Bristol designed with wide-open spaces and unlimited possibilities for humanity to enjoy themselves by running, playing sports, cycling, dog-walking, and walking. There are worn paths throughout the large grassy area, as well as undiscovered and new paths. Our family walked from one end to the other the day after Christmas (called Boxing Day) and it was “lovely” as they say here. Our daughter learned to ride a bike on the Downs, and so we come back here to keep her confidence level up in riding.

With a bit of trial and error and a few scrapes and bruises, she learned to keep her balance. Encouraging words of persevering through trying something new that may be painful are probably also an ingredient of her success. Neither myself nor my wife could ride the bike for her. She had to do it herself. We gave her the push and encouragement, but she rode the bike.

That’s what coaching is like, and that’s what I’m looking forward to in 2022. Coaching by walking alongside. Have you always wanted to do something and never did it? What stopped you? Did you ever have hopes and dreams that remained only that? If so, then having someone walk alongside you as a coach may be helpful. It did for me. Gratefully, I had two other experienced coaches who were coaches for me in these past years. We gathered recently, and we continued our triad-coaching-friend conversation. We shared in silence to give space. We laughed and cried. But mostly, we just walked beside one another, sharing our stories, asking questions, and encouraging one another. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who began their journey in a defeated, head-down, and hope-gone spirit, they were met by the unrecognized Jesus who walked alongside them asking questions. The epiphany of Jesus’ identity was revealed in the breaking of bread, the sharing of a meal, and the intimate communion of friends sharing the same road together.

My friends’ gift of holding my story, walking alongside me, and encouraging me with questions and silence is what helped me lift my weary head to see Jesus, our Hope, beside me (us) and on the horizon. This, in its purest form, is coaching to me: holding each other’s stories and awakening our weary eyes to hope on the horizon.

And that’s what I’m looking forward to in 2022. So, here’s what I’m offering to those interested. I’m offering to hold your story, walk alongside you, and encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus (who is beside us and before us) so that you enjoy and achieve all of the hopes and dreams in your heart and mind.

I’m not looking to coach anyone and everyone. I’m looking for those clergy (of any denomination and ordained or not) with their heads down, feeling defeated, tired, energy-less, hope-less, mad, burned out. I’m looking for those who feel called to ministry, but are not sure where to start or what to do. I want to walk beside you, hear your story, and then have your story told right back to you. I’m not prescriptive or a consultant. I’m a coach. I’m a pastor. Our stories are composed of more than our past. There is a future waiting to be discovered and a present that demands action.

Your greatest days lie just over the horizon, and you have to make the decision to get there one step at a time. Walking is difficult because the least bit of energy stirs the adrenaline in you, leaving a desire to exert a sudden burst of energy into an all-out sprint. Don’t. Just walk and let me walk beside you.

Cheers to the new year, friends.

(If you’re interested in knowing if coaching is right for you, email me personally at or contact me on social media – Facebook or Instagram. We’ll then schedule a half-hour zoom call to talk about all of your questions. Some of you may want/need weekly coaching, while others are fine with monthly or bi-monthly for a period of at least six-months. This is your decision, not mine. But if you’ve ever had a vocational goal or life-long dream but never achieved it, for whatever reason, I’d love to hear about it. Whether you’re a Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Non-Denominational, or whatever denomination, I want to hold your story and hold you accountable to achieving your goals one step at a time. Let’s walk with one another in this new year.)

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