I have had two lovely encouragements recently. I received a book award last month and I gained a coaching diploma last week.

These encouragements represent two very different parts of my professional life. This last year has been a massive struggle trying to chart my way through them. We might call this my professional identity wrestle.

On one side is my academic work. On the other, professional coaching. I love them both but seeing how they work together has been harder than I thought.

It all goes so deep – to the very essence of who I am.

After seven years of academic study – and what a privilege that was – it was time to make a living. This is where coaching entered.

My studies resulted in a PhD, a published book and to my delight, a book award. There have also been some lovely teaching opportunities including with the University of Birmingham.

When the 2020 pandemic hit, I realised I needed to think strategically about my own particular skills. Thinking and writing is wonderful but I also needed to make some money.

Some interesting interactions with people who were coaches set me thinking. I started to wonder if this could tie in somehow with all the academic work I love.

I had also spent around seven years in the business world before going back into full-time education so this route made sense.

It is strange how we can become so engrossed with the thing we are doing that we almost forget about former things we have done. I practically needed someone to knock me over the head with my business development past.

Coaching seemed to link all this together.

I am fascinated by the different ways we look at our lives and situations and how things like pride and hard-heartedness can hinder our vision. Often we simply get into the habit of looking at something through a particular lens. As I have experienced, this in itself is hindering.

In broad terms, my area of academic interest is about partnering with the Spirit of God in the marketplace. My concerns lie with the role of faith and religion in public, professional, and private life. I am fascinated by the different ways we look at our lives and situations and how things like pride and hard-heartedness can hinder our vision. Often we simply get into the habit of looking at something through a particular lens. As I have experienced, this in itself is hindering.

As a coach these are all areas that I can help people think about as we look together at where they are going in life. I see these as “perspective-related issues.”

My book The Interpreting Spirit is about the role of the Spirit in the interpretation of Scripture. It is also an analysis of 50 years of thought from scholars in this area. My award  was the “2021 Award of Excellence” from The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship.

It was given “in recognition of her efforts to broaden and enrich the knowledge and understanding of Pentecostal issues throughout Christendom.”

There is no higher accolade they could have given to my work. I love to help others see what makes different people groups so special.

I am very much aware that the same Spirit works in the world today and in peoples’ lives, drawing us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and our situations. This is regardless of whether we are a person of faith or not. The Spirit of God does not need to be known in order to do a work in someone’s life.

My coaching diploma is a “Diploma in Professional Coaching Practice.” This was an Accredited Coach Training Programme (ACTP) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). This is an important stage but there is lots more to learn. Professional development is an ongoing practice.

If you are thinking about finding a coach to help you negotiate your way through an area of your life, you should know that coaching is not currently regulated by any country or state. This means that anybody can set themselves up as a coach and profit from it without coach-specific qualifications. Make sure you do some research on that person before signing up with them.

As a coach, I talk with people about their professional lives. I do not tend to talk with them about God. I work to interact with people in ways that are right for them as uniquely created and gifted individuals. I help people think about their professional identity and purpose. In other words who we are, what we love and how best we can make a living.

I have a strapline: grow, realign, transform. It’s what I’ve been doing over this past year of my professional identity wrestle.

The struggle is worth it.

 

Postscript

I did my theological training with London School of Theology and my coaching diploma with Full Circle Global. Two very different and special places of learning.

Genesis 32 has been my key scripture this year. In this passage, Jacob wrestles with God at a pivotal point in his life. He gains a permanent limp and a new identity.

What is your professional identity?

If you think you might like to work with me, or if you know someone who might, contact me. I would be so happy to talk with you.