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A Steward’s Story…


The Situation:  Have you ever volunteered to lead a new Synod team, questioning your own credentials when compared to the incredible accomplishments of the team members? As an experienced project manager, the initial thoughts were familiar - reach out to others, gaining attention from highly respected pastors and other leaders, and making contacts to set commitments in place for goals and recruiting others into those faithful goals.  Yet, the leader felt all alone in trying to accomplish it! FEAR of dismissal, distractions, and a less-than-clear path forward to approach others were obstacles getting in the way.

The Coaching Experience:  The leader was able to harness the passion being held inside to speak more confidently with others based on the person's own personal insights and prior experiences.  The light bulb really went on for the leader when beginning to see revered pastors as partners rather than as people on pedestals.  The path forward seemed much easier when leveraging God's Truth:  the leader was not alone.  Building partnerships through connections with others in newly perceived equal roles was the moment of shifting!  Taking this faith-filled action and trusting that God works through team efforts helped this person envision a powerful way forward to more quickly engage others and leave the procrastination behind!

The Result:  The person is now embracing both the leadership and speaking roles at the Synod level. The team has captured the Synod's story with a Narrative Spending Plan and will use it to encourage new leaders to organically grow the commitments for God’s work on the road ahead!

Thanks be to God!

Rev. Janice Hawley

A Coach’s Journey


In the late Spring of 2013, a friend sent me a notice from our synod’s newsletter about accepting applications for Stewardship Coaching training in Chicago in August.  My coaching career began with that training.  I went to Chicago, spent 2 ½ days receiving good training and meeting people who became my colleagues.  I realized during the training I had been doing a great deal of coaching in my business career without thinking of it in those terms.  I was hooked! Ever since I’ve been on a steep learning curve.  I was looking forward to a few days of learning and fun in Chicago.  Turns out God had other plans. 


Not only did I learn all kinds of new (to me) concepts and meet interesting people, I deepened and broadened my own commitment to the various ways in which I express my faith, particularly in stewardship.  I expected a pleasant time in a learning environment.  I got that for sure, but I also received something totally unexpected:  a different way to think about stewardship, to practice stewardship in my own faith life, and an almost overwhelming exposure to a tsunami of resources to use in coaching others in stewardship.   


Five years and nearly 150 coaching hours later, I received my credentialing as a coach through the International Coach Federation, a professional organization. I am indebted to the ELCA for providing me with such excellent training and opening doors for me to share with others what I have learned through my coaching practice.  I learn something new every day – it never occurred to me that stewardship could be exciting, challenging or fulfilling.  It is all these things, and more.  Who knew?  Certainly not this lifelong Lutheran – but – I’m learning and counting all my blessings along the way.  I took to heart Dr. Mark Allen Powell’s assertion that stewardship for Christians is both a duty and a delight.  That change in my perspective has made all the difference in my coaching – and, my life.

Joanne Larson

Pacifica Synod

The value of coaching

Janice Hawley

Level 2 Stewardship Coach

The value of coaching

Zach Manzella

Level 2 Discipleship Coach

The value of coaching

Jeff Silvernail

Level 2 Stewardship Coach

Bishop Susan Candea

Central States Synod

I was invited by the New Jersey Synod, with others, to embark on training as a coach in 2017. I am now a Level II coach, trained in both discipleship and as a coach for mission developers and redevelopers. I completed leading a lab for coaches early this year and am now beginning with a new cohort. Working with both individuals and congregations as a coach has been a joy for me. I am still in process as I learn to be a better coach but am happy to be making progress and improving! And I am grateful for the mentorship and guidance of the ELCA coaching staff and by the support of the New Jersey Synod coaching team, DEM, and bishop.


Learning how to coach has been a challenge and learning opportunity for me. Further developing the skill to listen in a new way is exciting, and it is gratifying to sense that I am really being of help to people on their individual journeys to live out God’s purpose for them. In my work for my doctor of ministry degree, in a multicultural setting as a mission developer, I reflected and wrote about how listening to others and being genuinely curious about what makes them tick is a wonderful way to get to know people and care for them – as a pastor and as equals before God. It’s not about passing on to you what I happen to think and believe. Mission and evangelism are about learning about each other, which makes us more expansive in our worldview and more self-aware. In a similar way, listening to a client in the coaching relationship, and walking beside that person, contributes to the growth of both of us. So I am really being changed by this work.


I believe in the coaching process, in the present and future aspects of it that contribute to personal, spiritual, and professional growth. I look forward to continuing to learn new skills to help me in my work with clients and being curious and excited about their growth and their life in Jesus.


Janet Blair