"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony..." Revelation 12:11 (NASB 1995)
"...I would like to preface why I chose to engage in the process; by doing so I will much better relay the impact coaching has had upon me.
...when Ioannis reached out to me, regarding his ministry, I pondered what it might look like for me and my Church. However, as curious as I was, it was not something that I would have ever pursued. And this was for several reasons:
One, the expense was daunting, I did not know the cost, but the idea of paying someone for something intangible seemed wasteful.
Two, I am a pretty intelligent person and therefore, I felt that I should be able to figure out the solution for my own struggles.
Finally, I did not want to invite someone into my personal shortcomings.
You might be asking yourself, “With these objections how did you end up writing a testimonial about coaching?”
Let me explain something more before I get into my experience. As a pastor and hospice chaplain, I frequently counsel people. One of the principles I share with counselees concerns reaching out for help when in need. I tell them, "When you are struggling, and you cannot seem to get a breakthrough in an area, then get out of yourself; get out of your own mind, reach out for someone else's opinion and wisdom."
On January 13 of this year, these words echoed back to me. I was driving and deep in thought and down on myself. I was thinking of how my church's attendance was dipping, how volunteers were unreliable, of countless unfinished church projects, ministry visions were going unreached, and on top of this, I was exhausted. As I drove, my mind heavy with these thoughts and emotions, I received a phone call from a number that seemed familiar but, since I was unsure of it I let the call go to voicemail. It was Ioannis. I had received multiple emails and calls from him but, had not responded. So motivated by guilt, I called him back. We talked about his ministry assisting with a project at my church as he shared details about coaching. His call came at the appropriate moment. With my own words of advice ringing in my own ears, “Get out of yourself” and the thoughts of impending failures and my emotional fragility, I agreed to the initial coaching call.
The initial two calls were exciting. I felt endorsed and it was all as I had suspected; I was doing everything right! (Well at least it seemed that way.) However, since the first two calls, they have not been very easy or pleasant. As the calls progressed habits began to manifest, and personal disciplines showed their frailty. To explain, allow me to share about three meetings in particular.
First, on February 8th, my meeting with Ioannis was both revelatory and emotionally overwhelming. In the call, through Ioannis’ direction, I was forced to confront ideas that seriously limited my relationship with God. This call flat-out shook me up. Ioannis had pointed out that my experience with God's power was, as I described it to him, a thing of the past. Ioannis never said it, but I realized that my relationship with Jesus had grown lukewarm. Despite its uncomfortable nature, the call forced me to finally eradicate ideas that had held me back for years. (Suffice it to say, this one call potentially saved my ministry and revived my faith.)
In addition to the call on February 8th, another meeting with Ioannis stands out. We started the time with prayer, and I began to describe to Ioannis my previous weeks. After I walked through the chaotic happenings, Ioannis asked how my prayer-time was. I replied that in the last two weeks I had only connected deeply with the Lord twice. Ioannis pointed out that there would be no change in the chaos of my week, nor would my ministry goals ever be attained if I did not succeed in maintaining personal disciplined intimacy with God. Furthermore, Ioannis told me, “Tom, when we began God told me to ask you about your prayer-time.”
The final meeting I’d like to reference occurred on the 8th of March. As we talked, Ioannis was asking about the progress of my keeping and maintaining a schedule. As I shared what I thought was a slight improvement, Ioannis began examining how I scheduled my time. Through this examination, he pointed out the disciplines of scheduling I was practicing were unrealistic and untenable. Additionally, Ioannis’ comments allowed me to see that no other profession required expectations to the degree I was attempting and failing, to keep. Furthermore, ...the continuation of these practices and their demands would, more than likely, lead to the devastation of my ministry, emotions, and close relationships.
To conclude, I would like to share my opinion regarding the process I have experienced with Ministry Coaching.
First, it has been an arduous process, but I know it will become easier. I am aware through the implementation and practice of new disciplines I will reap new and rewarding benefits.
Furthermore, having grown aware of my shortfalls, I am encouraged by the knowledge that I am not alone. It is reassuring to know I have encouragement and help in the journey.
Finally, regarding my coaching, it is abundantly evident that Ioannis provides coaching wisdom that is truly Spirit-lead. With the challenges, of life and ministry, the support of divine, God-given counsel is irreplaceable and unrivaled.
Subsequently, I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity afforded me."
(Please note that because of the intimate detail of his testimonial (and even though he gave us full permission to share it "any way that you need to"), we still decided to change his name.)