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Absent Blog Poster Found!

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Confession: I’ve been a terrible blog poster! Since I began this blog (which didn’t last very long) I’ve made a couple of career transitions, moved to Northern California, and recently re-dedicated myself to building an ongoing coaching practice. The web site will be totally re-designed as will what I offer. The name and focus of my coaching practice will remain the same, “The Higher Calling Coach; Enabling Professional Church Workers to Embrace Their Higher Calling.” So, if you will forgive the LONG hiatus and might welcome additional postings from “The Higher Calling Coach,” stay tuned for some needed changes.

One important change to my practice will be to offer Courses. Courses will help focus attention on an area of life or ministry that might need some attention and guide one through the process of positive change.  So, to provide the reader with something designed to be helpful, here is a short article based on the Course called: “Embracing Your Higher Calling; A More Strategic Life.


Reach New Levels Of Success And Fulfilment By Becoming A Life Strategist…

Is it really possible to achieve everything you want in life, personally and professionally? To many people, the idea of being, doing and having everything you genuinely want in life seems like a pipe dream.

For starters, how many people actually take the time to really contemplate their true heart’s desire? A large majority of folks don’t even know what they really want out of life because they haven’t taken the time to even consider it. That being said, I think it is a safe bet to say we all know “that one person” who has blissfully stumbled along, seemingly hitting the jackpot with each step in their life. They don’t worry about plans or what’s next. They “go with the flow.” Somehow, someway, they keep finding new and exciting ways to succeed.

Now, as mature, refined adults, we’d never say we hate those people, but let’s be honest …we hate those people. And you know why? It is because we aren’t them. Most of us haven’t been so blessed. We worked hard and did exactly what was expected of us, but we still aren’t happy where our life is at the moment.

Sure, things are fine. It could be worse. We aren’t doing all that bad, after all. We have a couple of wins to our name. But a part of us always wonders, “why not me?” Why can’t I be the lucky one for once? 

Feeling that way makes perfect sense. Getting lucky is great. Who wouldn’t want to get lucky in life more often? People often don’t give luck the credit it deserves when it comes to success.  That said, luck isn’t the only thing you can leverage for success. There is something else, something anyone can add to their life.


Embrace Your Higher Calling: A More Strategic Life

In “A More Strategic Life” you are going to learn about the power of being a “life strategist”. You will start by looking at your biggest dreams and desires, then you will begin formulating a strategy to bring ALL of them into reality. With the “Strategic Life” program, you will discover…

  • What a “life strategy is” and what you can accomplish with one
  • An introduction to the creation of your own strategic life plan
  • A process and framework you can follow to start living strategically

This short post is a preview; once I rewrite the website and get a few proverbial ducks into a proper row, you would see here “the offering”; how to make “Embrace Your Higher Calling; A More Strategic Life” your own. Until then, please email The Higher Calling Coach if you would like to consider this course and/or personal executive coaching. 

Thank you all for your patience; Blessings in Christ,


Rev. Dr. Phillip Pledger

How to Build a World-Class Ministry Team

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(Seven Ways to Create a Dynamite Team)

Wouldn’t it be great to lead a world-class ministry team? Imagine meeting your ministry team on Monday morning and seeing EVERYONE excited about getting down to work, each doing their best and excited about their next ministry success. Imagine your whole team filled with passion and a deep desire to work according to their own strengths and fully utilizing the strengths of the other team members. . . Imagine a ministry where everyone is passionate about making your ministry vision a concrete reality. . . Imagine!

A great imagination is a wonderful thing. Reality, however, is often little more frustrating. As great as imagination is, imagination alone doesn’t create a excellent teams. Imagination must be linked with concrete practical plans in order to have the power to change anything. Formation of a world-class team is built from the ground up, not handed down from heaven above. How can we build a world-class ministry team? Here are my Seven Ways to Create a World-Class Team:

Know your Goal

Leaders have concrete vision. Yogi Berra said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Wise words. Most people in ministry (or in business, for that matter) are motivated to do something, but they aren’t sure what. Unless you know your ministry direction, how is it possible to convince others to follow you? And, even if you can convince others to follow, a smart person will soon leave when they are recruited by a leader with a vision. I’m convinced a lack of vision is one of the major reasons congregations and other ministries struggle; people are frustrated by a lack of vision yet too loyal to their congregation or denomination to leave, so they stay around and complain about their frustrations. . . and little if any progress is made.

Overshare your Vision

It’s difficult to overshare a vision, but when in doubt, share again. When you recruit people to your ministry team, make sure they KNOW and BUY INTO your vision. Your vision must be your ministry passion; EVERYONE ON THE TEAM must completely understand your vision and want what you want.

Recruit Mission Partners, not Friends

Ministry leaders have a fine line to walk; you want to be “friends” (or more Biblically, Brothers/Sisters in Christ), but you are called to the mission of Christ. Effective ministries, just like effective businesses (and NGO’s, government agencies, and every other type of organization), exist to accomplish a mission. Therefore, make sure your team knows that the MISSION is more important than the participation of any individual (including the existing leader). The mission of Christ will get done with or without “me”; my job as a Christian leader is to faithfully focus on my calling in Christ and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Show the Ropes

Apparently an old nautical term, “show them the ropes” means to demonstrate the proper way to set the sails so that the ship will safely and effectively navigate the ocean and reach their chosen destination. You may recruit very successful people to your ministry team (and you should!), but that doesn’t mean they fully understand how Christian “ministry” works. You’ve heard the expression: “When all you have is a hammer, all the world’s a nail.” People will use the tools they know and understand. Your job as leader is to “show them the [Christian ministry] ropes.” Patiently and strategically equip your team members to become expert ministry team members. That’s your role as a Christian leader, to equip, teach, train, explain, share, encourage, and help each team member reach their fullest potential in Christ.

Create Experts

As you develop your ministry team, choose wisely. Where possible, recruit people according to the needs of the ministry and according to your vision of the future of that ministry. As you “show the ropes” develop the attitude that you are equipping your team to be experts in their field. Are you the smartest person in the room? If you are, then you will do whatever you can to elevate your team members so that each team member becomes the smartest person in the room in regards to their ministry area. Small minded leaders like warm bodies to validate their leadership. Good leaders seek to attract team members smarter than themselves; AND they work hard to help their team members become even smarter and better equipped and even more effective than they alone could ever be. Tom Peters: “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

Encourage Mistakes

OK, this might seem weird, but I believe it to be good advice. This doesn’t mean that you encourage people to try to do things wrong. . . quite the opposite. Encourage your team members to try new things, to push the envelope, to discover the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t. Every good and new ministry approach was once unconventional (and perhaps even considered unorthodox). Thinking outside the box is healthy for the individual, the team and the Church. Give your team permission to fail, to make mistakes, to fumble the ball (or any other figure of speech you can think of). You will create an atmosphere of joy and creativity; and by doing so, you will increase ministry effectiveness. (By the way: Happy people get more done, attract other happy people, and their  joy is efficacious – happy people will attract like-minded people into your ministry, people who want to be a part of the fun! — just say’n).

Know your Team as Individuals

To build a world-class team, you gotta know A LOT about the players. How many hours will a football coach spend recruiting and getting to know a player’s skill set, how fast they run, how far and accurately they can throw a ball, how well they catch, etc.? You are the coach of your team and you need to know your players very well. What are their particular set of skills, what expertise do they already have, what limitations might they have, and what is their ministry passion? A great leader knows their team members and gives them opportunity to serve in their areas of strength and helps the “players” shore up areas of relative weakness.

Your next team meeting might not be perfect, but over time, it can become better, and filled with joyful effectiveness for the cause of Christ. If you would like to talk about it, contact me!


Dr. Phil Pledger is The Higher Calling Coach. Each blog post and newsletter will discuss principles of solid and effective Christian leadership. If you don’t want to miss his blog posts, sign up for his newsletter at: Email Coach Phil at: if you would like to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation or would like to ask a question.

How to Maximize your Coaching Experience

Posted in Introduction to Coaching, and Uncategorized

Are you thinking about working with a Coach? Perhaps you have read an article featuring the many benefits to Coaching. Or, maybe someone in your congregation or at the denominational headquarters suggested that a Coach might be helpful for you at this stage of your ministry. Whatever the reason, welcome!

I’m writing this article in order to provide you with ways you can maximize the benefits of a Coaching relationship. This advice will help give you a more positive Coaching experience, allow you to achieve quicker and more satisfying results, and even save you some time and money.

While Executive Coaching is becoming a standard in the business world, many Professional Church Workers are unfamiliar with the many benefits of Coaching. So, let’s start at the beginning: What is Coaching?

Answer: Coaching is a specialized relationship designed to help you find clarity and skills needed in making positive changes in your life and in the systems with which you are connected. More succinctly: Coaching helps you become a better “you”!  Coaching empowers, fosters personal and professional growth leading to discovery of important breakthroughs that will help you achieve a more satisfying and productive ministry and life.

Although similar to other leadership disciplines, Coaching is unique and specific. Coaching is NOT:

  • Consulting. A consultant is the “expert” in solving a particular problem or the giving of specific advice. Consultants focus on issues and problems in an organization. A Coach focuses on the individual being coached not on the organizational issues.
  • Counseling. Counseling typically deals with psychological needs a person might have. A counselor often attempts to understand a person’s past and diagnose maladaptive thinking and behaviors. A Coach works with emotionally strong people and focuses on empowering the individual toward self-discovery and action.
  • Mentoring. Mentors are also experts who’s experience and wisdom is transferred to the one being mentored as they learn to do what the mentor does. A Coach recognizes that the one being coached is the expert about themselves. The coach seeks to draw out strengths, skills, and abilities the client already possesses (or utilizes client strengths and passion to acquire what’s needed) to become what the client decides they want to be (or do what the client is called to do).

There are other things Coaching is “not” but those are the ones most often confused with Coaching. To summarize: The coaching relationship recognizes expertise of the one being coached; the Coach’s role is to facilitate discovery, empower, and work together toward achieving client-driven goals.

Maximizing Time with your Coach

Know the reason for the meet’n

If you are the one that contacted the Coach, you likely know why you called. Sometimes, however, the client has been referred by a supervisor, denominational leader, their Board, or other entity; for those who didn’t set up the appointment, it is especially important that you know how to make the best use of your time (and expense) of having a Coach.

Remember, a Coach doesn’t solve the issues you are having, they coach you so that you are empowered to determine your own future. (Who needs someone else telling you what to do? Answer: No one!) You are the expert in “you”; it’s just that you might be “stuck” or need a thought partner or you are too close to an issue (or person) to see a clear path. Whereas Coaching isn’t rocket science, it is a discipline; Coaching utilizes unique skills and ways of thinking. That discipline and way of thinking can be transferred to you!

Here are some helpful questions to consider as you prepare for Coaching:

  • What is frustrating your progress right now?
    • What discomfort are you experiencing?
    • What issues keep coming up at work? (or home or school or . . .)
  • What would you prefer to see happen?
    • How would you like to feel in your situation?
    • What changes would you like to see take place?
  • What obstacles are preventing you from making necessary changes now?
    • What needs to change in your life?
    • What needs to change in how you feel about your situation?

First Meeting

Your first meeting with your Coach will be a discovery session. Like any relationship, time is needed to get to know one another. During your first session, your Coach will seek to understand you and your situation. The Coach will want to know who you are as a person, what motivates you, and what issues concern you. Don’t expect instant answers; a relationship takes time.

Too often people are looking for a technical answer to an adaptive problem. Technical questions can be easily answered, for example: “How much will it cost to build this building?” The answer can be calculated. An adaptive issue is: “How do I motivate this class of teenagers?” There’s no “one” answer and every good answer you will find will begin with, “Well. . . it depends. . .”

Coaching deals with adaptive challenges and it will take time, energy, and some hard work to accomplish your objectives.

Second Meeting

To maximize time with your Coach, you and your Coach can begin to prioritize your objectives and goals. The questions listed above are broad and general. Your Coach will help you take one issue at a time. If at any time you have new information, new insight, or desire a new direction, that will be important to share with your Coach. Since the goal of your Coach is to help you succeed, any issues you find important that need to be discussed ought to be brought up during your session.

Be Prepared

Ultimately, YOU drive the Coaching sessions. Prior to your session, think through what YOU want to accomplish, what questions you want to discuss, what goals you want to pursue. Coaching is about you, for you, and depends on you for success. A good Coach might suggest a path and will, when appropriate, even challenge new thinking, but you are the expert on “you.” Your Coach is the expert on bringing out the BEST from you.

Memorialize Progress

Often your Coach takes notes during the coaching session. As a Coach, I take notes so that I can map your progress toward your stated objectives and so I can be prepared for each session. By writing a few bullet points during or directly after each coaching session, you will be able to track your progress toward your objectives. Writing can also help make sure you make forward movement between sessions and give a you greater sense of accomplishment. One of the major goals of coaching is to help you become skilled at coaching yourself; writing notes will help fulfil that goal.

Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before!

Aside from ripping the Star Trek theme, it’s important to remember that coaching is about YOU becoming a better you. You don’t need to impress your coach just like you don’t need to impress your family physician. The Coach, like the physician, is there to help you discover and maintain your own success objectives. If you secretly want to become Teacher of the Year, say it out loud; let’s work on this together; let’s make a plan. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and working toward high-level achievement!

It’s Up To You To Be A New You

The Coach cannot, no matter how great they might be, make your life what you want it to be. Only you can know what you want to accomplish and only you can take the necessary steps toward success. Your Coach will encourage you, help you think more creatively and completely, and will help you formulate winning strategies. But you are in the driver’s seat; you decide the destination, the route, speed, and stops along the way. Your Coach will help you navigate and decide and help keep you focused on your life’s goals.

By understanding these basics, your Coaching sessions will be much more productive and you will be well on your way to accomplishing your objectives and living a more fruitful and enjoyable life. If you have other suggestions on how to make Coaching more effective, please share your thoughts. I can be reached via my personal email:, or via my cell number, 909-255-1054.

Blessings in Christ,

Coach Phil

What to Expect from Coaching

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Coaching is an intentional beneficial relationship between two or more people focused on helping the one coached successfully obtain their goals.

Good coaching can help you:

  • reach your potential in Christ
  • discover what you truly want in life
  • overcome obstacles to success
  • connect short-term strategies to long-term plans

A Coach is a  “trusted role model, adviser, wise person, friend, Mensch, steward, or guide — a person who works with emerging human and organizational forces to tap new energy and purpose, to shape new visions and plans, and to generate desired results.”  Someone who “facilitates experiential learning that results in future-oriented abilities” (F. Hudson, The Handbook of Coaching).

An Executive Coach offers specific help by:

  • Maintaining Confidential Partnerships
  • Utilizing a Structured Process
  • Goal Directed for Optimum  Performance

Executive Coaching is NOT Psychological therapy! Coaching is designed for emotionally and psychologically healthy individuals. Coaching focuses on:

  • Performance
  • Achievement
  • Fulfillment

So, what can you expect from our coaching relationship? Here are a few appropriate expectations:

Expect your coach to ask questions. . . sometimes hard questions, questions you may have been avoiding for a long time. The coach is to be curious, to help you discover more about yourself and in general, create the foundation for better self-understanding.

Expect your coach to focus on your potential, what you can do, and the formation of your best self. A coach will help you go over, under, or even plow through obstacles, help to equip you to find your own way and avoid the fear, doubt, or circumstances that hold you back.

Expect your coach to help you stand firmly on your own set of values and Christian faith, to know who you are in Christ, and to become more confident in your relationship with God as His beloved child.

Expect your coach to challenge you. Sometimes the most loving thing anyone can do for us is to tell us the truth. Though uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to hear, we all need to be challenged in order to grow. Einstein said once: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” A professional coach will encourage you break the cycle of “same-ness” and help you make way for more satisfying results.

Expect your coach to be your encourager. Your professional coach will serve like Aaron and Hur who helped keep Moses’ hands held high and allowed the Israelites to prevail (Exodus 17:12). A good coach helps you re-think situations and helps reveal new possibilities, ideas, and successful strategies.

What the coach will not do:
Don’t expect your coach to be your new boss or tell you how to live your life. Coaching is about empowering the person, not dictating someone’s life. The last thing most of us would ever want is someone telling us what to do!

Don’t expect your coach to be triangulated. The coaching relationship is between the coach and the one coached. The coach is NOT a middle-manager between the Board/Council or Principal or Pastor or anyone else. The relationship is between the coach and the one being coached. Coaching is NOT a disciplinary activity, it is an encouraging, positive and engaging relationship that helps the one being coached to reach their own fullest potential.

Don’t expect your coach to do YOUR work. Successful coaching is empowering and equips people to change their own future. It might seem strange, but the one being coached pays me to get them to work. That’s the only way coaching will be helpful. Maximize your own success by suggesting areas of strength AND weakness; suggest activities that need to be measured and where it would help to be held accountable. Accountability is key to a successful coaching relationship.