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The transforming ministry of coaching

Student mentor Pastor Atte Helminen says we can all learn and benefit from getting involved in mentoring. He shares his story of how coaching transformed his ministry.

I graduated from Newbold almost 30 years ago. Since that time, I have always tried to help the College in different ways. Every week, I meet two Newbold students for at least an hour. Initially, I met each student separately, but recently, we have moved on to team coaching, which I believe is even better. We have good dialogue, and they learn more from the coaching sessions and each other.

My job is to care for the students and ask and answer questions about their studies. As a mentor, I help them stay focused and balance their lives with their studies and mission. I have always believed in mentoring. When I became a pastor in Helsinki, I did not have anybody to mentor me or give me an internship. So, I created a pastors’ team and started a weekly pastors’ meeting where we helped each other. It became my way of surviving as a pastor and as a leader. I am also a church planter at heart, and church planting is never possible without a team and coaching. If you do not have a support system, you need to learn how to build one for yourself.

I used to attend all kinds of coaching courses. However, many of the techniques I learned did not become part of my lifestyle. At least, not until I saw a positive change in the lives of some of my pastor friends from other denominations – they did a master’s in coaching course. I completed the course 10 years ago, and it changed my life. I started coaching and training pastors, teachers, and entrepreneurs, and helped some become coaches themselves.

Learning is an ongoing process. I am learning all the time. Nowadays, I spend several hours a week coaching young people who need my help. I coach professional coaches too. I believe everyone should have a mentor at some point because you learn essential life skills. Coaching enables you to develop your identity and goals. It builds your character and helps you cope with difficult situations.

Young people live hectic lives with their studies, personal issues, and relationships. However, I am not here to solve their problems, but I am here to help them figure out problems for themselves. I have mentored many young people in Finland during the last few years. When they are in trouble and ask for help, sometimes I respond with a question, and they say, “That’s a good question. What do you think about it?” Also, trust is crucial, and it is important they feel safe when asking difficult questions.

If you asked me whether other alumni should get involved in mentoring, I would say absolutely. It is a win-win situation. We can all learn and benefit from getting involved in mentoring. The satisfaction of seeing someone succeed in life brings me the greatest joy. Living a self-centred life where your goals are always at the forefront of your mind will leave you empty. We should lead and serve like Jesus – it is so rewarding.

When I think about mentoring, I always tell myself, “It’s not about me, but others.” Our happiness is not based on our successes but on helping others, so they, in turn, help other people too – following Jesus’ example – now, that is true discipleship.

Atte Helminen Profile Photo

Pastor Atte Helminen

Pastor Atte Helminen is the Youth Director at the Finnish Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and former Union President for the Church in Finland.

We are looking for mentors. If you are interested in becoming a student mentor, please get in touch with us at [email protected]