40 Questions to Help You Coach in Deep Water

In Proverbs, God provides a picture of deeper relationships: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5 ESV). The coach is to be a person who has the desire and skill “draw out” from the deep water of the heart.

The Old Testament word picture in this passage described a protected well. This well required someone to walk down a long set of steps carved into rock, draw the water, and then carry it back to the surface. That sounds like hard work as well as skill.

Listed below are different levels of a dive into the deep water of the heart, where God begins to transform the person being coached—and often the coach as well. Questions that correspond to each level are included, but the best questions will be discovered or created by you.

Connect – A leader needs a friend who will listen, care, and encourage. They need a break from the daily grind of intense decisions and conversations. The connecting part of coaching helps the leader “change gears” for a personal and potentially transforming conversation is about to happen.

  • What do you and your family like to do for fun?
  • What are your hobbies/interests?
  • What is the best blog or book you have read lately?
  • What non-ministry website do you visit the most?
  • What ministry website do you visit the most?
  • Who from your past has God used to shape you the most?
  • What were your favorite things to do as a child?
  • What is the most unforgettable place you’ve ever visited?

Celebrate – Deep. Leaders often need a coach’s help here. Usually they are measuring themselves against someone admired and successful. Or they could feel harassed by their critics. Press leaders to find wins.

  • What’s working in your world right now?
  • What wins can you celebrate since we last talked?
  • How have you celebrated your wins with others?
  • How are you communicating wins to the people you lead?
  • Where are you seeing God most right now in your world?
  • What specific “God moment” have you enjoyed since we last talked?
  • Where are you growing the most?
  • How has God used you most in the past?

Explore – Deeper. A million things are happening in a leader’s life. But what does he or she see? What do leaders talk about most often? What do they really want? The conversation is delving into deeper water now. The target is the heart.

  • What do you have to offer leaders outside your church?
  • What is your greatest ministry win?
  • What is your biggest ministry failure?
  • How would you like your ministry to look five years from now?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What does the next level look like for your church/ministry?
  • What are you learning?

Capture Deepest. Press hard for the leader to make decisions here. Where does he or she need to focus right now? Does he/she need to focus on one goal or on multiple goals? What’s important? What is God saying? What does your leader need to do in order to hear God more clearly?

  • What’s not working?
  • What are three areas in your life and ministry that need growth?
  • What are keys to your success?
  • What does God want?
  • What frustrates you the most right now?
  • How can I help you most as your coach?
  • What’s really important?
  • What’s God saying?

Act One way to measure your success as a coach is by looking at how you end conversations. Coach toward concrete, measureable steps stemming from agreed-upon goals and priorities. Put on a project management hat and help those you coach decide:  Who? What? When? Where? How? Then keep your leader(s) accountable to follow through on those action steps.

  • What’s next?
  • When are you going to do that?
  • What specific tasks do you need to do before we talk again?
  • How do you need to prepare for your (meeting, conversation, event)?
  • What information is missing as you move forward?
  • Who can help you?
  • How will you measure success?
  • How will you celebrate success?

Listen longer than you think is necessary.

One of the best tips I’ve ever discovered for asking good questions comes from Gospel Coach by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood: “Listen longer than you think is necessary.” Coaching is simple but not easy. As your understanding (discretion, skillfulness, and wisdom) grows, your coaching will have deeper influence—and the best way for that to happen is to keep coaching!

Published March 19, 2014