Today’s guest is Kylie Butler. And I met Kylie at the Bishop’s training event down here in Hobart called Shaped, which was fantastic. And Kylie gave us an amazing introduction to Christian coaching. So then I went and snaffled her afterwards, said, ‘Come on my podcast’. So Kylie is the managing director of the Christian Coaching Institute Australia. And she’s served as a pastor, leader and a coach with many organisations and has logged over thirteen hundred coaching hours, including a few this morning, she tells me. She studied business at Monash, Theology at the Australian College of Ministries, and Masters in Church Practice through Eastern College Australia. And she’s married to Adam and she has two children, Toby and Lily, and they live in Melbourne. So I’ve got her on Skype so that we can talk and she’s the queen of asking questions and so I’m looking forward to asking her some today.
I’m on the other side of it today.
So, Kylie, we always start by asking, how did you become a Christian?
I came to faith at the age of around 15, 15, 16 when I was in year 10. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family at all. I actually grew up in quite an anti-Christian family, particularly my grandparents. So, God, Christianity was not any part of my world. It was in my vocabulary, but as a swear word, not as anything positive. And so I didn’t grow up in a Christian home at all. I came to Faith through actually a couple of friends of mine who I went to school with. They invited me to a couple of youth group things that I reluctantly went to every now and then. But then one of my girlfriends had a pretty traumatic incident with her dad passing away. It was actually through that process or timing that I kind of went, oh, hang on, I think there’s something else here. There’s more than a coincidence in this. So that actually began a bit of a journey for me of asking questions, primarily arguing with people around faith. And does God actually exist? I actually called myself an atheist. Kind of in my early high school years. So I would never have equated myself to any kind of faith, but ended up kind of making a decision to follow Jesus in my year 10. And I was really petrified, actually, not petrified. That’s the wrong word. I was really anxious about coming home and kind of telling mum and dad. I’d gone down the front and had a chat to the person at the front and she said, ‘do you know what you’re doing?’ I’m like, ‘not really, but I know this is what I was supposed to do’. And she said, ‘okay, well, you need to tell your mum and dad about this.’ I’m like, ‘no way. You don’t know my parents. There’s no way I’m going to do this.’ She said, ‘well, if you really have made a decision to follow Jesus, then you need to tell your mum and dad’. So I kind of found the time and place to be able to have the conversation with mum. And she ended up saying, ‘actually, I’ve been I’ve been thinking about this, too. Maybe we can go to church together.’.
I couldn’t believe it. So unbeknownst to me, mum had been journeying in her own faith kind of journey with my one of my friend’s mums. So I’d been tracking with the daughter, she’d been tracking with the mum. And so she’d been having this kind of wrestle with God in midst of that as well. So she actually came to faith a number of months after me. And so then we ended up both being baptized together about twelve months later, which was beautiful. And then about five years later, my dad came to faith. And so we’ve kind of you know, now I’ve got parents who, we go to church together. My mum actually works with me at Christian Coaching Institute. So we’re just like this. Yeah, it’s just magnificent. But I wouldn’t you know, if you’d asked me that kind of you know, in my early teens, I wouldn’t have imagined this at all, so.
Absolutely. It’s amazing.
Yeah, it’s good. It’s pretty awesome to be able to tell, actually.
Yeah, for sure. You’d say you’re very into intergenerational ministry then?
So can you tell me what is coaching?
Yeah, I get that question a bit because kind of these these words that get thrown around, coaching, mentoring, counselling, like those helping disciplines. And often they get interchanged together, particularly coaching and mentoring. But coaching is around, particularly Christian coaching is about asking great questions in order for the person to draw something out for themselves. So mentoring, if we kind of give a really short understanding, mentoring is generally someone who’s older and wiser, more equipped with knowledge in a particular field, and they’re inputting that information to somebody. And often a good mentor is going to ask outstanding questions as well and be a great listener. However, a coach doesn’t need to have any expertise or knowledge around a particular topic. It’s based on the understanding that the person on the other side of the table actually understands their context, their culture, their family, their organization much better than the coach does. So coaching is around drawing out and mentoring is about putting in. And where, I guess, the distinction with Christian coaching is that it’s based on the understanding that, you know, every believer already has an advisor, that adviser being the Holy Spirit. So how do we tap in to what God is already doing in and around that person and work together to be able to see someone fully live out God’s calling?
Sure. Absolutely. I love that idea of you’ve got the Holy Spirit in you. And just it’s almost about taking time, putting time aside to listen and hear what he has to say and help you out.
So if I can be really cheeky then, obviously you don’t need any training to be a coach.
Well, with the Holy Spirit at work…
However, I think so many of us I know I take myself, for example. I’m quite happy to talk. I can talk all the time without any problems whatsoever. And, you know, I kind of go, hey, I’ve studied a lot. I’ve had a pretty decent life experience. There’s a whole, lot of advice and wisdom that I could give you. However, it’s from my context and my understanding and we have this idea often, you know, when we’re told something, there’s something in human nature that kind of rebels, or goes ‘you can’t tell me this’. And we’ve got to figure it out for ourselves. So the idea is, how do we help people to understand and figure it out for themselves? To increase buy-in. To increase responsibility and accountability. There are some things, you know, as leaders, as supervisors, as parents, we kind of, we need to tell people what to do. But in in more of those kind of processing items and thinking through stuff and trying to work out what’s the best option and getting someone asking questions in order for them to unpack it, means that they own it more and they want to actually do something with it and transform and change.
Absolutely. So what if somebody was interested in becoming a coach? What would you suggest that they do?
Come to Christian coaching!
Perfect lead in. There are a number of coaching organizations that are around Australia, depending on, I guess, the particular area that you want to grow in. Currently, there is no regulations around the coaching industry. I know that it will come in with the government in the next five or 10 years would be my assumption, but we don’t have any idea around that. So the reality is anyone can just call themselves a coach.
Just hang your shingle out.
Yeah. And so what you want to look for is actually somewhere that is qualified and accredited with a particular kind of body. So Christian Coaching Institute, we align ourselves with the International Coaching Federation, which is an international global body that lots of organisations go through. But you want to ask yourself first, what sort of coaching do you want to do? Because there’s life coaches, business coaches, parenting coaches, there’s so many different sorts of coaching. And then you’d want to find out where has that niche for you? For us at Christian Coaching Institute, we’re the only Christian coaching organization that does training in Australia actually sorry, there’s one organization that runs in Sydney and does a two day course. But yeah, so kind of if you want Christian coaching we’re it currently.
Wow. So what sort of what length of training do you guys offer?
Ours is six months. Intensive classes online. So we all do it via live online like through a video platform. Which means that people can be anywhere around Australia and just log in together each week. Which also means that you’ve got a live trainer, live people, but you can still be in your PJs in your bedroom, really.
It’s fantastic. So long as the shirt up here looks good, you’re fine.
Yeah. Shirt on the top and PJs on the bottom.
I love working from home. So you’re doing training as well as coaching, you must be reasonably busy to be keeping all that up and running and you go and do talks around the nation and stuff as well.
Yeah, I am.The things you saw me doing at the bishops conference are probably more of the things that I do. We actually have a team of Christian coaches and trainers that work with us. So I’m not the only person in this space. So I have an incredible, amazing team. They do a whole heap of the training stuff now. So there would be stacks of people that they’re coaching and training every month.
Absolutely. How did you get into coaching?
When I first stepped into pastoral ministry, which is well over 20, nearly 25 years ago no, 20 years ago, I was kind of as part of my internship I was allocated a coach as a part of that beginning. I had no idea what that was. She just happened to be the person that actually she pioneered Christian coaching. And the institute so Christian Coaching Institute in Australia was called something else back then. So she was one of the founding members. And so she coached me. And she didn’t tell me about it. I just knew that this is what it was. And it just worked for me. I’m like, this is fantastic.
So then I just imitated what she did with me, with my team and staff. And I went, huh? This thing works. I’m not walking away with as many things on my to do list as what I thought or what I used to. And they go away and they actually do what they say they’re going to do. And they come back and they’re really inspired and empowered. I’m like, huh? This actually works. Then in 2010, I went through a pretty difficult transition. And during that transition, my coach said to me, Hey, Ky, why don’t you do some training? Oh. All right, then. So I sat and did some of the intensive training, which went for 12 months back then. That got to end of the day two. And I went, oh, this is me. Like, now I get what you’ve been going on about. And so really, that was kind of the beginning, like the real beginning of there was no turning back since then. And then I came on team in 2012 as part of the Christian Coaching Institute. Different name back then. But yeah. It was so it was part of imitation. And it worked. So this thing works. It’s much better.
It’s a bit like what Eugene Peterson said in his book, The Pastor, about finding a job that’s congruent with your personality. Seems like this is what you found.
Right down the line.
Love it. Yeah.
So how does your faith show in what you do?
In so many ways. Our coaching course is obviously that’s the foundation as to what we look at it and then as part of the coaching. Obviously, most of my coaching is with Christian leaders. So that becomes integral in both prayer, but also tapping into what is God doing and saying to the person. But really, coaching sits as a foundation for us in scripture.
We look right back to Genesis Chapter 3, where, you know, Adam and Eve have just done the dodgy in the garden and they’ve gone into hiding and God comes to them in the cool of the evening. And he asked this question, you know, says, ‘Adam, where are you?’ And I go, well, that’s the most interesting question, because the God of the universe knows exactly where Adam is. So why is he asking Adam the question? And he asked this question to help Adam to understand, not that he’s ‘hiding behind a bush’ where, but actually where is he emotionally, wear is he spiritually, where is he mentally and helping to locate where he is.
And I think that whole part. Well, I know a whole part of coaching is actually helping people to locate where they are. Understanding what’s going on. The fog in their minds, the amount of things that we carry can just get overwhelming. So helping people to kind of step back, pause, locate themselves and figure out where they are is a key part of it. We see that obviously in Genesis. And we fast forward to the gospels where Jesus asks a man who’s been crippled for 38 years. Well, what do you want? What you want me to do for you? And the man goes, I need someone to get me back into the pool. I can’t get in quick enough. When the angels stir the water, I can’t get in quick enough to be able to do it. And I find that quote, that answer fascinating. Actually, this guy, he really wants to be healed. But all he can see is that he wants to get into the pool. And so that question is, what do you want? What is it that you want God to do? What is it that you want Jesus to do for you? And so they sit as kind of the two foundational questions for us as Christian coaches. Where are you and what do you want? So understanding more about your current context. And then what do you actually do? What you need to do to be able to move forward, get breakthroughs in the life that God has called you to?
They’re really amazing foundational questions. And I think everyone could stand to sit down even with a journal and have a think about them.
What do I want? Yeah, I think since the Bishop’s training day that I’ve been sitting here just mulling over, what do I want?
Hard questions to answer when you really ask it of yourself.
If you don’t exclude all the things that you think are impossible so you shouldn’t ask for them. It’s amazing.
So when do you feel close to God?
When do I feel close? There are probably a couple of times. One is being at the beach. So I live a few minutes from the beach.
And it’s probably just out in nature generally. But there’s something around the water. So I will every two months I have a prayer retreat day. So I start off in a coffee shop and journal and get everything out of my head. That is, you know, tying up in there. And it’s generally that vent prayer to God or a journal prayer to God. Start with a coffee. Probably more than one coffee. And then I’ll walk along the beach and just spend that time with Him in nature. And then also probably in my veggie garden, pulling up weeds, picking, you know, fresh veggies and fruit off the tree. They’re probably the two kind of most poignant moments apart from regular reading and prayer that happens every day. But they would be the two big moments for me.
Can I ask how you do that? Regular reading and prayer every day. You know, I get up at 4:30 in the morning kind of person?
I do get up at 5:00 now because my household gets up at six thirty.
And I am actually introverted. I’m not on the lowest go, but I need myself and my own time to recharge. I’m currently reading through the Bible in a Year Bible. And so that’s where I’m. Yeah. So that actually takes a fairly decent amount of time every day to do. Actually, I don’t. I do miss days. There are days every week that I miss.
Let’s be really honest. I try to read it every day as much as I possibly can.
You make us feel better.
So that would be my morning. And then there’s particular people that I’m praying for.
Actually, I’ve picked up the one to one thing that Bishop Richard talked around praying for someone. There’s two people that I’m praying for for one minute every morning. Immediately after that. So they’re in my kind of bookmark. So I set my alarm and pray for them each time I’m reading as well. And then there’s often just that prayer that happens after that and throughout the day for me.
Yes, absolutely. So what’s one thing about God or Christianity that you wish everyone knew?
If I think about the, particularly the people that I coach, most of them are in Christian leadership from the ones I coach, our team coaches a whole heap. But most of mine are senior leaders, senior pastors, CEOs or senior associates within their church or organization. And there’s often this idea of the I mean, part of it is the imposter syndrome, which happens to both men and women. And so that can often, we can often get caught up in our own bind of actually not being good enough, which is completely … we know that that we’re not, but that God, even in amongst our frailty as humans, that God still uses us.
And even when we feel like we’re not good enough or the impostor. We feel like we’re faking it or we’re doing it fearful and need boldness and courageousness to be able to do it, which we do. But even in that, it’s that sense of just just take the step that God is asking of you because he’s with you. He’s all in for you. He’s a hundred percent in. So trust in that he is for you and is in for you. To do and be all that God calls you to be. That would be one.
And the second one would actually be around being and doing. And this idea of we have to always, you know, we have to get to be. Which is true. We know that verse: be still and know that I am God. It’s really hard to be in this world and to live out of being.
And we want to be able to get to that place, but not to beat ourselves up if we’re not there. I think doing and being is a bit more like two tracks that we have doing on one side and being on the other. And we actually flick back and forward between doing and being. Between that competence and character throughout our life. And to kind of go, there are seasons to learn and do and increase skills and competence, and there are seasons to be and rest and abide. And to allow the season to be that it is. And then when the track when you change from one track to another, it’s okay.
Yeah. It’s like often we need to, in order to get us into that being space, God needs to … I’m careful with my words here … allow us to become sick because there’s no other way that he can get us to slow down.
I have heard that before. Experienced that before.
Absolutely. You got any tips for us? How to how to relax into that being?
Oh, if I could do that myself, that would be good.
For me, I am a maximizer achiever. On the Eneagram I’m a three. So I like to get stuff done. And I like that. I love doing that. And so for me, I actually need to schedule that abiding, restful time in and choose to switch off. So for me, you know, putting in the times in the calendar that I’m at the beach and I switch my phone off and purposely choose to do that, because otherwise I. I know.
Then I have to do it at the start of the year. So, I mean, I have a mentor that helps me to block key things in, you know, date nights, holidays and prayer times and a couple of other things as key things that I do, Generally, it’s actually at the end of the year before, before everything else goes in.
Very good idea.
But I need accountability to do that. So I actually struggle to do that on my own. So I get. So I know that about myself.
So I put great people around me to keep me accountable to stuff. So to me, that’s really helpful in the abiding, switching off technology is really helpful. And for me, that sense of actually doing that journaling process at the start. Wherever, whether it’s a full day or whether it’s just in the morning. Sometimes there are things that are just clogging up our brain too much. That we need to get out before we can actually kind of just sit and be.
I’m such a fan of journaling. It’s my thing. I have a whole shelf of journals full of rubbish, really. Just what blurted out onto the page. No one should ever read this.
True. True, true, true.
Great. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Often people think that coaching you can only do in a professional space.
I actually use the coaching skills with my kids. I’ve got a 17 year old and a 14 year old. And the idea and the way the skill of being able to ask questions first and ask questions in a way that doesn’t there’s not that leading question of ‘I’m asking you this question and you’re going to land at this answer. Because that’s the right answer that I as a parent think.’ But actually being able to kind of ask really neutral questions has been quite impactful for us as a family and particularly the kids and being able to own and make some of the decisions that they have.
So I encourage people even rather than kind of first stepping in to give advice or correction or sometimes you need a correction, but to actually ask that curious question first without presupposing what the answer is, with kids, it’s a little bit harder with our spouse, but also with colleagues that we work with as well.
It can actually bring empowerment and transformation to the people that we work with.
I love the attitude of unjudgmental curiosity. The curiosity of, ‘Just tell me what you’re thinking, I want to understand’. Listen to understand, from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I read recently.
That’s right. And listening is, is one of those incredible gifts that we can offer people. We live in such a noisy, full world that, you know, there is so much, there’s often music on or you jump [in the car] and the radio’s on, or even just visually. There’s this kind of noise that is out in our world. And so the gift that we can offer someone of listening and like really listening is really empowering. And, you know, that sense of being present with someone as God is present with us, you know, putting the phone away. Not being distracted, actually being totally present and listening and asking the questions out of the conversation because we love them and we’re curious. Is one of the greatest gifts that we can offer to somebody else.
That’s fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing with us. It’s been excellent.
No problem at all. It’s been great to be here.