SCATTER STORIES: Creating Kingdom Flourishing as a Coach in the Middle East

March 14, 2024

In a quiet, glass-walled office, people take time out of their busy days to sit with Adriana*, sharing their hearts and their struggles and working together to develop a path forward. “All of them are from least-reached nations, so it’s beautiful to be in a position of influence,” Adriana said.

Working in the Middle East as a coach in the healthcare sector, Adriana brings biblical principles into best business practices, teaching managers to value their people and transforming the company’s culture as she speaks into individual lives.

Naturally disposed to seeing the potential in people, Adriana seeks to help them overcome obstacles and thrive in their environments. “It’s a gifting that God gives me to look at someone and say, ‘Wow, this is where you could go; this is what you could do.’”

One of Adriana’s favorite quotes, credited to Saint Irenaeus, is, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

“I think that is very true. I think God is most delighted when we are functioning in these giftings and wirings,” she explained. “Coaching is this avenue to usher people towards that place that God has for them.”

“Before I learned about coaching, that would turn into criticism because I would point out what’s wrong and what needed to be fixed,” she shared. “Of course that was not inspiring to anyone.”

My personality was made on purpose

Adriana’s faith and journey of self-discovery have positioned her perfectly for this type of role in this part of the world, but it wasn’t what she was looking for when she moved to the Middle East. Having relocated to the region for her husband’s job, Adriana soon felt frustrated that the natural ‘ins’ she expected to have, for example as a mom, failed to lead to connections in society. After surrendering her search to God for intentional connection in her community, He surprised her with a job offer that seemed counter-intuitive to societal norms but aligned with the way He wired her.

“I also felt very misunderstood as a kid …who was always criticized and didn’t measure up. I realized there was a disconnect between who I knew I was and how people perceived me,” she said.

At age 17, Adriana was drinking and partying, a path influenced by her father’s alcoholism and “leading me to death,” she said. “And I don’t know if anything could have stopped that track expect for God’s mercy to come and intervene.”

When she decided to follow Jesus at age 19, He transformed her life from being on a path of destruction to experiencing abundant life in Christ. Coupled with her natural curiosity and care for others, this experience helped build her passion for seeing people change.

Two key moments of affirmation in Adriana’s life were when she took the Myers Briggs test and when she moved to a country in the Middle East, where she completed her undergraduate degree.

Taking the test “was the first time I understood that my personality was made on purpose. God had purpose when He created me the way I was. And when I moved, it was clearly because my personality, the way I function, fit right into the culture.”

While living in the Middle East as a student, Adriana met her husband. Although they initially returned to his home country to start their family, they dreamed of returning to the region. Where they lived in the West, there were six churches within two miles of their home; where they live now, there are only a handful of churches in the entire country – built exclusively for expatriates like themselves. Indigenous Arab believers are few and far between as those who choose to follow Jesus face tremendous pressure and persecution.

“I want to live my life bumping into people that are not believers, that are not like me,” Adriana said. “I cannot be the salt of the earth if I am still in the saltshaker.”

Navigating cultural differences to see Kingdom flourishing

One of the main differences between western culture and Middle Eastern culture is familiarity with a growth mindset, particularly in an honor-shame society. Employees in the West think nothing of approaching their manager with a request for professional development in a particular area. But in Adriana’s current cultural context, that same request could be seen as a sign of weakness or the employee admitting that he or she is not good enough.

Adriana has learned to navigate this reality by operating from a strengths perspective instead of a defense perspective. “If there is any hint of shame, then this shuts down the conversation”, she explained. When she started her role as a coach, it took more than eight months for her to build trust and credibility with the managers in her company. Now they willingly share challenges with her because “they know for a fact that what is talked about in my office does not go anywhere.”

Although she also had concerns about being a woman coaching male colleagues, Adriana’s boss told her many men were more likely to open up to her because they would feel less obligation to maintain appearances.

Within the coaching sessions themselves, Adriana can tell if a person is interested in the development skills she has to offer, but she often gauges transformational impact from the testimonies that trickle back to her.

One of the managers she coached developed more patience with his employees. Instead of immediately responding to mistakes with anger, he started taking time to listen to his employees’ perspectives. “I don’t have to yell. I don’t have to get stressed because we talk and they know it’s not a fight anymore,” he told her.

For Adriana, that’s success: “I'm just super proud of him because he's taking it all in and realizing not only that it works, but that he's much more relaxed and much more free to do other things now that he can empower his guys … and trust them,” Adriana said.

By working with multiple levels of leadership to teach the same principles, Adriana has enabled collaboration and teamwork across the organization. Her curiosity and compassion are creating pockets of Kingdom flourishing, transforming professional interactions across her organization and impacting the personal lives of those she coaches.

Written by Erin Schipper

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