About Steve Zimmerman

Vision Coaching

I was meeting with a pastor recently who asked if I would need to come and meet with the staff several times before I did some coaching with them. I pointed out that I don’t need to become an expert on the staff to coach them. Coaching is built on the premise that the person, or group, being coached knows what they need to know to move ahead. The coach knows how to help clarify that knowledge with powerful questions. Shifting the role of “expert” from the coach to the people being coached frees the congregation to own the excitement of shaping action steps for the future.


The following thoughts are from Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in Western North Carolina. He is going more in-depth with his thoughts based on his recent article in our newsletter, the E-ncourager. We hope you enjoy!

Daniel Goleman’s work Primal Leadership describes the concept of attunement– “alignment with the kind of resonance that moves people emotionally as well as intellectually (208).” One of the frustrations with fostering strategic thinking in churches is that the very process can be so left-brained that it fails to reach people’s hearts. Attunement brings to mind the workings of a choir. All the voices need to be on the same page but they need not be sounding the same note to make music.

Involving people deeply requires that they be invested in the process from beginning to end. Many long-range planning processes have the congregation playing the role of receiver to the pastor, casting a vision, or to a select group of leaders, who have been involved in an exhaustive study. Most congregations resist alignment with someone else’s vision, but the process of attunement through discerning conversations touches heart strings that echo the song of the Spirit.

Get Ready for Surprises!

A recent country song shares the idea that he blesses the Lord for the crooked road that led him straight to his girl. I would be remiss if I didn’t think at times that I have a better plan to do ministry than the Lord. He has reminded me more than once in this bumpy road of ministry that His way of doing things are so much wiser than mine. What pleasant surprises along that crooked path!

Raising Up a Vision – Week One

Your vision may be bigger than you thought! Someone recently reminded me that I am limiting my potential. This kind friend help me realize that we so easily sell ourselves short in what we can do. Thankfully God continues to work on us and pushes us to a higher plane. It may not be comfortable along the way, but the view at the top is breathtaking!

Laughing with God at Yourself!

This week in 1974 the world of comedy lost one of its special friends. Frank Sutton died of a heart attack. He did not grow up wanting to be a comic. But if you were alive during the 1960’s watching “The Gomer Pyle Show”, you could not help but chuckle every time that his by-the-book character, Marine Sgt. Vince Carter, got into a “discussion” with goofy and simple-minded Gomer. Frank truly fit his part! An interesting twist of his life is that he served with the Army in World War II. He tried to join the Marines but could not pass the physical. I guess you can say that he got back at the Jarheads years later.

As much as Sgt. Carter wanted to change Gomer into an outstanding Marine, he could not. It was not for lack of trying! When you are faced with the “characters” in your life that need to get in step with you, try seeing it from a humorous point of view – God’s. He probably has been thinking about trying to change you more than you know!

Don’t Give Up the Ship Now!

The war was raging in America in the summer of 1813. The new fledgling nation was still fighting the old enemy, the English. At times the English were winning this war. Even the national capital in Washington, D. C. was occupied by them at one time. It did not look good for the Americans.

But something happened this week that help change the mood of the war. In the midst of battle, the wounded U.S. Navy captain, James Lawrence, of the USS Chesapeake shared with his crew the now Navy famous motto – “Don’t give up the ship.”

In the midst of your storms and battles of your life, these words may be of comfort to you so that you can keep on going. You have gone this far. You have invested too much to go back. Keep pressing onward. Victory is near!

This theme sounds all too familiar in what Paul was sharing with the early church as they struggled with their new found freedom in Christ. Keep pressing toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Simple but effective words for us today to keep going.

Don’t Let the Balks Get to You!

How many of you remember Bob Shaw, a baseball pitcher for the old Milwaukee Braves? He played with them only one year, 1963. The organization probably traded him the next year due to his five balks in a game that season – a record!

Bob continued to play ball for other organizations for a few more years. Those errors on this day did not set him back. He got back up and did his job. A one day failure did not dictate his life. We can find a nugget of truth here.

Another encouraging point is that Bob has been forgiven for his mistakes. He doesn’t come to mind today in the baseball world about his pitching problems. People have moved on to other matters. When you fail at something, don’t feel bad about it today. In just a little while, people will forgive and life will go on. Now get back in the game!

Don’t Have a Black Sunday!

If you were still living in the panhandles of Texas or Oklahoma this week back in 1935, your Sunday would have started out somewhat normal. Of course, you were tired of all the wind blowing and the dust or sand everywhere. Yet that Sunday began with the birds singing and the sun shining. However, by the end of the day you had experienced one of the worst sand storms in our country’s history. It was called Black Sunday. Day turned into night. Confusion was rampant everywhere. After this day this area along with parts of Kansas and Colorado would be labeled the Dust Bowl. These storms became so bad that later on in the month dust from this region reached places like Washington D.C. and New York City.

Because of bad farming practices and record dry weather the countryside that was lush in the 1920’s now became a barren wasteland. Researchers have estimated that over 100 million acres of farmland were lost to these storms the year before Black Sunday. My mother shared with us that when our grandmother saw these storms coming that she would soak bed sheets in water and then put them up in the window to catch the dust so that the air could come through and the dust be stuck in the sheets. And the family was at least 200 miles away from the epicenter of the Dust Bowl! She just didn’t want the farm in her house!

We can learn a few things from Black Sunday. Don’t let yourself be so worn down due to the strains of life. Find time to renew your body and soul. Get out and enjoy God’s creation or slow down and catch up on some spiritual devotion. Much like the Earth in this part of the country needed re-nourishment, you do as well. Be careful to not let the pressures of this world blow you away!

Get Out Of Your Box! God Did!

One of the most interesting men of the 20th century passed away this week in 1959. Some of his work is still around. The mark he left on our society was in the form of buildings. He definitely changed architectural thinking. This person was none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.

He enjoyed getting out of the “box”. People may not have rushed to his work early on in his career, but what he did was unique. In time he had his own design and some folks began to understand the logic in what he did.

You may be afraid of getting out of your “box”. Let God’s example of the Easter resurrection be your guide of doing things in an unconventional way. Just don’t let your uniqueness go to waste. Find ways this week to use what God has given you to lay new foundations for his Kingdom. People may not understand but the Master Builder does!

A Velcro Easter

Before this week in 1978 we all had to do the old fashioned ways of keeping things together. But a revolution occurred that spring and life has not been the same since. If you are having trouble guessing what it is, can you say a six letter word – Velcro?

You can find this stuff everywhere you go now. Whether it is on clothes, equipment, and the list can go and on…. we just would not know what to do without this simple hooking idea. If you are like our family, there is at least one thing in the house that has Velcro on it.

The genus behind Velcro knew that he needed a positive and negative hooking method to get it to work. What a great way to remind us about Good Friday. Our Heavenly Father knew that in order for us to have an eternal life experience with him, his Son, Jesus, would have to suffer a terrible death. You see the hideous cross and the glorious empty tomb are too much interwoven. The Gospel is not complete and secure without it. Thank God today for this special brand of spiritual Velcro! We need it to get through life!

May all of you experience a great Velcro Easter!