I was recently asked this question in an email: “Bob – are you familiar enough with spiritual direction to be able to articulate the general differences between that and coaching?”
As it happens, my wife Janet is a spiritual director, so I am familiar with the concept. Yet I found it surprisingly difficult to write out a formal distinction. After all, there are certainly many points of overlap: listening, asking questions, discerning what the Holy Spirit is doing, trusting the process.
But here’s a simple distinction I came up with:
- spiritual direction focuses on how the person is experiencing God in midst of whatever they are doing through
- coaching helps the client set goals and take steps to move forward
For example, a person is in the pit. A spiritual director might ask, “How are you experiencing God in the pit?” A coach might ask, “What are your options to get out of the pit?”