What is the difference between coaching, counseling, and consulting? I am in no way an expert here, but based upon the reading I have done and my own experiences so far, the following are what I have seen as some basic distinctions.
When I am coaching, I try to draw out the capabilities of the one I am coaching rather than offering information based on my own skills. The focus is on the person being coached and his training, gifts, ministry experience, expertise, etc. The coach works with “functional” leadership-type people who desire to move forward in some area of their ministry or leadership through taking specific action steps. So, I don’t need to have the same expertise or gift-mix as the leader I am coaching. But I do need to produce the right questions that will help that person design a more effective action-plan.
On the other hand, when I am “counseling”, I am focusing more on my training, expertise and understanding (which is hopefully biblical and grace-oriented). Counseling is primarily designed for people who are suffering with “issues” that have weighted them down and who are in need of “healing” and recovery.
When I am “consulting” someone, a third helping relationship, I offer advice because he needs it from someone who has had similar experiences.
Sometimes it is easy for us to forget that all three of these ministries must rely on God, His Grace, His Word, and His empowerment. The apostle Paul reminds us not to consider anything as coming from ourselves because our adequacy is from God, who has empowered us to do the work of ministry (2 Cor3:5-6).