I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to motivate, empower, and encourage people, whether in their life dreams, a particular project, playing a game, or just everyday goings-on. I find great joy in cheering people on as they strive to reach a goal. In fact, from middle school to college, I was an actual cheerleader for football and basketball seasons, pompoms and all!
From Cheerleader to Coach
Cheerleading fueled a great love for me—motivating others to achieve a goal. That fuel was carried over when I began doing youth ministry at the age of 13.
In ministry, an even deeper passion for “cheering” was nurtured. The adults in my life empowered and nurtured me in ministry because they saw something that I didn’t yet see. They saw organizational skills, a gift for preaching, a love for youth, and the desire to influence people. They modeled for me what coaching was, and they didn’t even know it. I had one “coach” for preparing me to be a public speaker, another for helping me to build leadership skills, another for understanding the operational side of Church, and still another for navigating what it means to be a young ministry leader.
They didn’t know what they were doing at the time, but each of those “coaches” was helping me through transitions, projects, obstacles, challenges, and dreams. They helped me to see where I was at each moment and to examine where I could go. No one gave me simple answers, but each of them opened my mind and heart to the possibilities that could be realized in my life. I believe that it is because of this specific and relational guidance that I am now answering the call to the ministry of coaching. It is all in me.
The Power of the Holy Spirit and Coaching
The key responsibility of the coach is to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit of God that leads the coach, and ultimately the coachee, to the tools, talents, gifts, and heart of where God is calling. This guiding Spirit is the source of power in the coaching process. The power of coaching can transform a person’s life and free them to envision the seemingly impossible. In other words, coaching is like opening the door to possibilities that are lying just beneath the surface of a person’s soul. Most of the time, those possibilities that we think are so far out of reach are actually closer than we realize. So many of us are searching for something more or “the next best thing.” But what we don’t realize is that we don’t have to search very far.
God has placed a desire, a passion, gifts, and vision inside all of us. We were born with these, woven into the very fabric of our being. It is that tingle when step into the Church, that extra heartbeat when we sing, that indescribable joy we get when we’ve helped someone else. It is the Holy Spirit cheering us on because we are on the right track.
I must admit, I have just recently answered the “formal” call to coaching, transitioning from full-time parish ministry into full-time ministry consulting and coaching. It is all still new, but I know this is the part of me that has been brewing just beneath my surface for a long time. With all the wisdom of my early coaches, the gifts within myself, and the power of the Holy Spirit, I am venturing into this ministry of coaching. I do so with the honor and great responsibility of walking alongside others as they seek what is already seeking them. For as the poet Rumi reminds us: “what you seek is seeking you.”
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Aqueelah Ligonde is an enthusiastic speaker and leader with a passion for today’s generation of women, girls, youth, and leaders. She has worked with organizations such as Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry and Youth Specialties. She serves on the Board of GenOn/Logos Ministries and is a Staff Consultant with Ministry Architects. Currently, she is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Louisville Theological Seminary. Ligonde served as the Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, NY.