Raw Reflections from the Journey

Monday, July 27, 2009

To Know and be Known - It Takes Time

"I want to know you more than that", said my new coaching client. We'd traded 'life stories' as part of the initial coaching protocol. The task is to share significant events, formative experiences and relationships as a way to expedite the development of an authentic relationship. I asked him what he liked about sharing life stories, and that was his response. "I want to know you more than that. You told your story as if you were outside of it. Feelings were missing. I know some of what's happened in your life now, but not how you felt about it and what it meant to you. That would obviously take a lot more time, but that's what I want, and I want others to know me in the same way."

I've never received such obvious and excellent push back. Most clients are blown away by the power of trading stories. They're surprised that I'll be transparent about my life, and they love the opportunity to put their life in perspective to set the context for a season of coaching. But he wanted more, and his desire exposed my own complacency and perhaps the fact that I've allowed my wagon wheels to get stuck in a rut by traversing the same territory time and again. Has my relational approach to relationships become devoid of heartfelt meaning and emotion?

Most of my coaching experience is that clients initially experience intentional authenticity and focused reflection about their life as fresh, exciting and overwhelming. But this client is unique. He seems to be asking for more than an artificial ritual of relationship, and more for something that is real and really transformational. Do I have what it takes to give that to him?

In so much as I am drawing life from Him who is the deep fount of living water, I have something to give. But if I habitually drink only from the shallows of my own thoughts and my own ways I'll have little to impart.

I'm horrified to think that I may have made coaching into a thing, instead of a life-giving endeavor. But my client may have explained it well as he reflected on his conflict about how much and how far to press into the opportunity. "Maybe it's just the way it has to be when you try to summarize 44 years of life in relatively few minutes because of time constraints." While that may be true, it still isn't satisfactory. And that's where the primary conundrum about relationships lies for me. Knowing and being known takes time. Evidence that I want such with God and with others will be reflected in how I invest my limited days of life. As the worship chorus expresses, "Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere."

Here's to knowing...and being known,


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