What Do I Mean by “Life Coach?”

I became a pastor at the age of nineteen. It’s the only work I’ve ever done. My favorite part of the job was sitting down with people to help them with their troubles. Nothing gave me greater satisfaction.   

I had to leave my religious career behind because my beliefs changed but I still do the work. 

As a Life Coach I use the skills I obtained in my training as a pastor. I help people when they’re in crisis. I’m there for them in times of grief. I listen and advise those who struggle with difficult problems.  I encourage others to face their fears and chart a course for their new lives.

I’ve been doing this work for thirty-seven years. For me, life coaching is ministry without the religion.     

Need to talk? Call or email me to set up a free initial consultation on the phone. 



Healing, Illness, Medical, Uncategorized

The Courage to Call for Help

A long time ago when I was still a pastor, I went to the home of one of my people because I could see she hadn’t been feeling well. When we sat down in her living room I told I was worried and I wondered if she was sick..  She denied it and said she was fine; however, I persisted, encouraging her to see her doctor.

She refused.

“Why?” I pressed.

She let the question hang in the air for a moment before she confessed quietly: “I’m afraid I’ll find out I have cancer.”   


She’d recently lost her husband and a sister to cancer. She was a sturdy woman, but grief can steal even a strong person’s courage.  I took another moment to let her process her own words.

“You might have cancer,” I agreed, “But then, we don’t know that. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, perhaps the doc will be able to help you feel better.” 

She nodded glumly.

“Would you let me make an appointment for you?” I said as I picked up the phone.

“Yes,” she whispered.

And I did.  She went in later that week.

Turns out she didn’t have cancer but her blood pressure was dangerously high.  She took the medicine prescribed and started feeling better. A few days later, she thanked me. 

I was happy to help but I didn’t do that much. I was there, I noticed, and I said something. And it was enough to help her summon her courage to get well. 

We can get stuck in our fear because it’s not just fear. It’s confusion and sadness combined with an ailing body. Gathering the strength to get better seems impossible but encouragement from a friend can work wonders.  Maybe we can’t afford a major medical bill but we could at least go to the doctor to talk things over.

Perhaps you’re in that situation now. You’re not just sick—you’re isolated and though you hate to admit it, you’re afraid.

Believe me, I understand but if you feel bad can I ask a favor?  For this moment, consider me a friend who cares for you (We may never have met but in fact I really do care for you). Let me nudge you by saying how much I would appreciate it if you would pick up the phone and call a doctor.  Chances are, you could start feeling better.   

Christianity, life coach, Magic, Power, spirituality, Uncategorized

It’s Not Magic

2016-10-14 161496366783..jpgWouldn’t it be great if we could wave our hands and say an incantation that would  make our unhappiness go away in the blink of an eye? Believe me, if I had any magic words I would to give them to you.  

But in all my years of helping people, I’ve never seen change come magically.  However, I have seen power come to people through their courage, wisdom, and patience. 

As a Life Coach, I can help you find your strength and plan your next course of action.  And when the changes come, it won’t be because you found magic. It’ll be because you found your power.   


Please note: I am not a psychotherapist. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but it requires the help of a therapist. 

Photos on this page by Sylvia Kirkendoll Mercer



Christianity, Clergy, Pastors, spirituality, Uncategorized

Pastors: No One Knows Who They Really Are

It’s interesting how pastors are either villainized or canonized. If you’re a pastor, you’re either a child of God or the devil’s spawn, but never a real person.

at the commissioning service cropped

I know better.  I grew up in a pastor’s home and I became one myself. I know that all ministers are people. Granted, some of them are selfish prima donnas. Some do notable work with huge churches (and sometimes they’re the same prima donnas). 

But most ministers are nice people who work too hard but never feel like they’ve done enough and they never feel that they succeed. They live in the public eye but they’re the loneliest people on the planet.  They speak of truth but they harbor many secrets. They can’t trust anyone. People in the congregation may try to be supportive but they rarely know how.  And there’s always a few who feel that it’s their duty to attack ministers (and their families). Consequently, pastors suffer greatly, and their families suffer with them, also in secret. 

When I left the church I promised myself I would not desert my colleagues and their families.   I am the person who can hear, understand, and advise pastors.  I may not agree with their beliefs but that’s not the point. These people are wounded healers who often need the support of a fellow human. And I’m going to be someone who offers it to them.



Photo of David Mercer by Jennifer Finley



What Do You Want?

What do you want?

at the beach side hotelIt’s hard to answer that question. Often, we have many conflicting feelings to sort through first. Sometimes, we only know what we don’t want, but that’s not enough. Sometimes in our confusion, we make poor decisions that hurt everyone.

Over the years, I’ve helped many people talk through their confusion to find their clarity. When we decide what we want then we can make a plan.

I discuss this a little more in the two previous posts.

If I can be of help, please contact me. I’ll be glad to hear from you.




Photos by Sylvia Kirkendoll Mercer


I Don’t Know What I Want–Or Do I?

What do you want? 

You’d think it would be easy to answer, but in fact the most common reply I hear when I ask it is, “I don’t know.”

Some people feel like it’s selfish to consider their own desires and it makes them feel ashamed.  Since they were children, they were told how others are so much less fortunate than they are, that they should be grateful for what they have and not complain.  Instead, they should focus on the needs (or demands) of others. 

All their lives they’ve been asking a different question:

“What do others want from me?”

FullSizeRender (1)To them, their own desires are less important than everyone else’s. So they mash their own wishes into a hidden compartment of the heart and try to care only for others. 

But in that hidden, often silent place, there’s a flickering hope that people will be grateful for all their sacrifice.  Somehow, someday, they’ll be rewarded if they try hard enough to please/help/save others.  And if they haven’t been rewarded, it’s because they haven’t tried hard enough or long enough.  And besides they shouldn’t be selfish anyway.  

Am I talking to you? Are you getting tired? How long will you wait to start taking care of yourself?  How empty do you need to be? How sick will you let yourself get?  

And how does your being miserable help anyone? 

I’m asking you to summon some courage  and consider the question:

What do you want?


Contact me if you’d like to talk about it.  




Photos by Sylvia Kirkendoll Mercer


Admitting What We Want

I’ve had this conversation many times with people.blog what do you want

I ask, “What do you want?”

They say, “I don’t know,” 

I say, “Yes, you do.”

We are afraid to answer because it might open the door to drastic changes and it would cause stress and pain not only for ourselves but for people we care for.  No wonder we’d rather not think about it.

Wouldn’t it be better to put aside our unhappiness and just let things stay the same?

Maybe.  However, our unhappiness tends to come out anyway, sometimes prompting destructive behaviors, or even illness.  We almost unconsciously create a crisis which forces the change we were scared to face.

It might be better to face ourselves and prepare to make the hard choices with clear thinking, considering factors like timing, communication, finances, and how others are affected.  With forethought we can make the changes productive, and perhaps even mitigate some of the pain that occurs. 

If a change is about to happen for you, I wish you success and happiness.  I have faith in you. 





Photos by Sylvia Kirkendoll Mercer