How is Christian coaching different from secular coaching? I asked Gary Reinecke, of InFocus, to explain the differences between International Coaching Federation and Christian Coaching. This week and next, we will share his wisdom on the topic, beginning today with this post on the difference in ethical guidelines. Gary is a fantastic coach, who has achieved the highest coaching certification available today. We wrote the Coaching 101 Handbook together and our new book Christian Coaching Excellence will be available November 1st! Enjoy this guest post by Gary Reinecke!

ethical guidelines

Observation #1: Ethical Guidelines

An excellent beginning

I wholeheartedly support and include all of the International Coaching Federation Ethical Guidelines in the practice of Christian Coaching. In fact, I would suggest that this is a solid foundation to begin the conversation of Christian coaching ethics. Notice the word “begin.” There is more to contribute on the issue of Christian coaching ethics that go beyond what is stated in the ICF Ethical Guidelines and specifically, in the ICF Code of Ethics. As Christian coaches this explanation is insufficient. How so?

Christian Coaches pursue ongoing spiritual growth and go beyond the ICF understanding of the Ethical Guidelines. 

Here is what ICF articulates in their Ethical Guidelines:
  1. Demonstrates personal integrity and honesty in interactions with clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders
  2. Is sensitive to clients’ identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs
  3. Uses language appropriate and respectful to clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders
  4. Abides by the ICF Code of Ethics and upholds the Core Values
  5. Maintains confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws
  6. Maintains the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions
  7. Refers clients to other support professionals, as appropriate
Further, under the ICF Team Coaching Competencies, ICF integrates the following Ethical Guidelines:
  • + Coaches the client team as a single entity
  • + Maintains the distinction between team coaching, team building, team training, team consulting, team mentoring, team facilitation, and other team development modalities
  • + Demonstrates the knowledge and skill needed to practice the specific blend of team development modalities that are being offered
  • + Adopts more directive team development modalities only when needed to help the team achieve their goals
  • + Maintains trust, transparency, and clarity when fulfilling multiple roles related to team coaching

Here is the difference

It leaves out the spiritual dimension. Most coaches recognize some element of this other dimension, but address it differently. In Co-Active Coaching the term used to describe this other dimension is “intuition.” For some secular coaches that would suggest human intuition, or perhaps, the “gut.” For other secular coaches it might infer a “spiritual” force or entity inside or outside the client that connects her/him to a greater purpose. It depends on the individual coach.

However, there exists a completely different paradigm that Christian coaches operate within in contrast to the secular coach. At her/his disposal the secular coach might sense something other… but that something other may or may not be a person. The Christian coach listens for that still soft voice that is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit– the third person of the Trinity. The focus of the Christian coach is to find ways to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as a coach, and to challenge to client to do the same.

Borrowing terminology from John 15, Christian coaches call this competency Abiding in Christ. This one competency shapes our Christian Coaching Ethics. Implicit to the Christian is the quest for personal growth, through an ongoing relationship with Christ.


Coaching 101– An introduction to Christian coaching, Coaching 101 will help you discover the power of coaching in your life both as a coach and as someone being coached.

Coaching 101 Handbook- This handbook is packed full of practical ways you can improve your skills in coaching those God has brought your way. You will gain a deeper appreciation of the coaching process and ‘coming alongside’ to help others as you understand the model outlined in these pages.
360 Coaching Assessment- Every coach should occasionally step back and assess their coaching skills. The 360-Degree Online Coach Assessment—named for its ability to provide feedback from the range of perspectives—is a research-based assessment tool built around nine core coaching competencies. It’s an effective way to get quick, accurate feedback on a person’s current level of coaching skills.
Countdown to the launch of a NEW COACHING WEBSITE and the release of Christian Coaching Excellence! If you missed the announcement of these resources, learn more HERE.
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