In The Spiritual Leader's Guide to Self-Care Rochelle Melander and Harold Eppley, two Lutheran pastors, delivered an impressive collection of resource suggestions, spiritual practices, psychological exercises, and rituals for spiritual leaders with the task of equipping the saints. In this user-friendly resource, Rochelle Melander is flying solo. She has more than 15 years experience as a spiritual leader and consultant and has been coaching individuals and groups since 2000. Melander does a fine job presenting an overview of the art of coaching (accepting the past, creating a strong foundation, assessing assets, creating a life vision, and setting goals) and at the same time provides insights into relationship skills, handing change, and dealing with our dreams of a new life. Anyone in a leadership role will find this material to be edifying and inspirational.
Melander writes: "The coaching relationship calls people to accountability, asking that they take responsibility for living healthy, holistic lives of integrity. In the companionship of coaching, we connect in ways that strengthen and stretch our souls and our relationship with one another. The transformation is mutual. Coach and client, teacher and learner, host and guest enter the relationship knowing that the conversation can and will renew and transform them. The companionship I found in the intentional coaching relationships brought both dramatic and ongoing changes to my life."
One common endeavor in coaching is discovering and working from one's assets. One exercise asks readers to look for assets in every encounter, place and experience for a week. We decided to look for assets in the book and accentuate them in our review. Here are a few:
• A coaching instructor told Melander to allow every client to take a five-minute ride in her BMW (bitch, moan, whine). Not bad advice for all who listen to the problems and challenges of others.
• The author talks about what Gil Rindle and Alice Mann of the Alban Institute call balcony space ("taking a position sufficiently distant from day-to-day operations in order to see the larger picture"). All teachers and preachers need to visit this space to get some perspective.
• There are many juicy quotations from one of our favorite books, Rachel Naomi Remen's My Grandfather's Blessing such as: "Sooner or later we will come to the edge of all that we can control and find life, waiting there for us."
• Melander gives talismans to people who are in crisis or going through a bad patch. She gives them prayer beads she has made; other ideas include prayer cards, words of encouragement, stones or shells.
• The coach needs to be an inspiration collector: gather quotations, questions, songs, movies, stories, or events to lift the spirits of others.
• Melander includes helpful ideas on spiritual practices that are dear to our hearts: being present, listening, generosity (under kindness), meaning, vision, hospitality, and connections. And, of course, coaching as an art is concerned with assisting individuals to become all they were meant to be, which is a pretty good way of describing the spiritual practice of you.
In a 12-page section at the end of the book, Melander answers some Frequently Asked Questions about Coaching. She has done a remarkable job summarizing the philosophy, the tools of the trade, and the interpersonal dynamics of this twenty-first century art. For more on the book and Rochelle's work see her website, www.LifeRhymeCoaching.com.