Chuck Whitley: Business Coaching with Spiritual Direction

Combining contemplative spiritual direction methods with coaching for Christian business leaders

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Chuck Whitley headshot

Chuck Whitley is a spiritual director for business executives and the founder of 4C Business. Originally from Oregon and now in San Diego, California, Chuck began ministry as a pastor and found himself doing leadership development with business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, professors, and post-doc students. He eventually wanted to move his work toward spiritual matters and began to dig into spiritual formation more. He found that many of the leaders he was working with were encountering their own road blocks or reemerging traumas. So he began to walk people through processing these experiences. Chuck became an executive coach who specializes in spiritual direction. Chuck said, “We use spiritual direction tools to help executives identify what blocks them from their identity and calling, which is usually a vocational calling.”

The 4 “C’s” of 4C Business are:

  • Coaching for Character Development
  • Coaching to Clarify Calling 
  • Coaching through Corporate Transformation, and 
  • Coaching for Cultural Influence 

Through identifying their calling, Chuck helps executives create mission-driven organizations that look to influence and improve the lives of their community. “If they feel called by God to leverage their organization to bring transformation to their neighborhood, then when they do hit a roadblock, they don’t cut and run, because now they’re doing it because God called them to do it, not because it is a good idea.” Chuck primarily works with executives of mid-size corporations, which are corporations that bring in $10 million – $100 million of total income. 

Chuck also has a non-profit side of his ministry that works with women of color who want to bring transformation to their communities through corporate engagement. He works to connect them with some of his for-profit clients and others to expand their networks and connect them to capital and/or the resources they need to grow their business.

Through spiritual direction, Chuck hopes his clients will realize that God is always moving, always at work, always blessing, and always present. The problem is that we are not always present with God, and we are not always seeking to be in alignment with God. 

Unlike other executive coaches, Chuck’s approach always starts with prayer. During their time with Chuck, his clients will often work through the roadblocks and formative memories of their lives and see how those influence their current leadership. For instance, a client might recall a memory of when a parent said something hurtful like, “you’re no good at this and you’ll never amount to anything.” Chuck said, “With those memories often come survival strategies like the need to be in control in order to feel safe. That can obviously affect their management style. Are you micromanaging your highly effective, highly qualified, highly motivated people? And if so, do you retain them very well?” Through a more contemplative and spiritual approach, Chuck seeks to help his clients work through whatever personal roadblocks they have and to find their deeper identity as a child of God and to follow Jesus in their vocation.

Chuck sees a real need for this line of ministry because he sees that many business leaders who are Christians long to see God at work in their business and want to align their business with their calling. The message they often get from the church is that money is bad, but in their minds they need to make money in order to pay their employees, give them benefits, paid leave, etc. Or on the other hand they feel like they are only seen as an asset to the church because of their money. The pastor will only talk to them when they need money. Chuck gives them a space to explore and live into their vocational calling instead of just being seen as a church’s asset. When we live into the vocational calling God has on our lives, whatever it may be, God uses us to transform the world around us. If you are interested in learning more about Chuck and his ministry please visit his website.

  • Timothy Bowman

    Timothy Bowman is a Luther Seminary graduate, a co-pastor with his wife at Zion Lutheran Church in Stewartville, MN, and a member of the Seeds Project.

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