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Updated: Feb 7, 2023

The PIC Approach – Finding the Truth in the Midst of the Lies

by Rolfe and Lea Carawan

Finding truth, and helping others do the same, can sometimes feel impossible. In today’s fast-paced, instant-everything and rapidly changing environment it requires an agile mind, as well as a robust commitment to developing new and needed skills. Christian coaches (and you could include mentors or ministers) must be adaptive and flexible when seeking solutions for complex situations that have multiple moving parts. Nothing remains a constant except the inevitability of change!

So how does a coach or mentor best navigate the swirling rapids of change and how can you make a difference? What can coaches depend upon to ensure they are giving themselves, and their clients, the best opportunities to succeed? It would be presumptuous to propose that we have THE answer to those questions; however, there are several key strategies and identified core principles that, when implemented, assist coaches and mentors help people thrive in their lives and relationships. We refer to this dynamic process as the PIC Approach.

The PIC Approach introduces a powerful way of thinking, a method of filtering critical information that influences one’s beliefs and behaviors. The goal in the PIC Approach is to help people properly interpret the overabundance of confusing and conflicting information they often receive on a daily basis. Due to the law of unintended consequences, they require something more reliable in today’s culture than merely a “best guess” or “educated opinion.” They need proven principles that will provide the strongest likelihood for success, while simultaneously mitigating as many of the potential negative consequences as possible.

At one time or another, we have all been guilty of the same faulty logic: 1) Believing something simply because an “important” person said it; 2) Assuming the information was true if we had previously experienced the same thing ourselves; and 3) Accepting something if it seemed reasonable and made sense. However, not all information is equal nor should it be weighted equally when determining a particular course of action. As coaches, we advocate for a more intentional way in which to assess and catalog incoming information. Think of this systematic approach in terms of three basic categories: PIC - Principles, Instructions, and Convictions.

God has designed the world, and the people in it, to operate under Principles (and laws) that He established before the foundation of the earth. These principles press down upon each of us and we can either cooperate with them and enjoy the benefits or disregard their wise precepts at our own peril. We define a principle as a truth that transforms, transcends and transfers.

To “transform” means to change in form and appearance or in character and condition. The end result is that something or someone will look differently, act differently, or function differently than prior to being acted upon by the principle or truth. When the power of God’s truth is released into a leader’s circumstances, and His principles are diligently engaged, a powerful metamorphosis ensues that can release enormous potential.

A principle “transcends” when it can be universally applied. It rises above personal convictions, private applications and cultural norms. The standard is just as true in China or the Middle East as it is in America. Because the principle is true by God’s design, time- whether the present or in past centuries- does not alter its substance or course. Finally, a principle “transfers” when it is just as applicable for one person as another, and from one generation to the next.


Both coaches and clients must be able to distinguish between a universal principle that is true and applicable across the board, from helpful instructions that may assist in applying the principle, and personal convictions.


Both coaches and clients must be able to distinguish between a universal principle that is true and applicable across the board, from helpful instructions that may assist in applying the principle, and personal convictions. We have known of many instances where something is presented as a universal principle, when in reality, it primarily represented helpful instructions, or someone’s deeply held personal convictions. The misrepresentation is usually followed by pain and confusion until a person begins to recognize that much of what had been taught and embraced as principles, did not ultimately transform, transcend, or transfer.

The second category, Instructions, contains numerous helpful suggestions that make it easier to apply a specific principle to a particular situation. Instructions come in many forms, including learning from another’s personal experience, or useful information related to one’s culture or personality. Instructions make principles pertinent and applicable to a person’s unique circumstances.

Personal Convictions can be the most difficult of the three categories to identify. These are usually more than solely personal preferences, but rather, are deeply held beliefs that may have been shaped by principles. Personal convictions frequently sound like principles because when a person adopts one, he or she is often compelled to live it out just like a universal principle. What is most often forgotten is the “personal” aspect. When a person experiences the fruit in their lives due to living out of personal convictions, they sometimes mistakenly believe everyone should live the same way.

For example, we recently heard a pastor teaching on the principle and importance of hospitality and God’s design for guiding these interactions, both in the home and the church. He convincingly extolled the benefits to both the person offering and the person receiving hospitality. He gave helpful instructions on how we might model this response to others today, and in our present culture. The pastor began to share his personal experiences, describing how God had convicted him to invite guests to stay with his family, making regular use of their guest room. What he sensed from God’s leading was so powerful, it inspired his sermon. It was an encouraging and convicting teaching, until he adamantly concluded with, “Therefore, if you have a home with an empty room, God would have you show hospitality and keep that room filled.” Unfortunately, our immediate reaction went from being excited about exploring ways to show hospitality to feeling condemned because the extra room in our house was not constantly filled with guests.

This well-intentioned, but misguided pastor had mixed the principle of hospitality with instructions and personal convictions, with no appropriate separation. His own experience, based upon obedience to what he felt God spoke to him, had created a personal conviction. However, when he shared his personal conviction as if it was a principle, he went further than the biblical admonition.

Principles, when utilized, are life-giving and help people live according to proven truths. Exactly how that principle is applied in any given situation is individually determined. The “how to” is the instructional component of application. The third component, convictions, are inevitable and when integrated wisely provide essential guidelines for our lives, but when applied inappropriately, have the potential for causing tremendous guilt, confusion and division.

Whenever Jesus scolded the Pharisees, it was frequently due to their self-centered tendency of taking personal convictions and helpful instructions and turning them into “must be obeyed” principles. This practice creates a legalism that is burdensome and overreaching, causing many to become discouraged, disillusioned and to give up trying to live the Christian life. Yet, the opposite end of the spectrum is just as harmful. When people reduce principles and instructions to the status of personal conviction, they can render the truth insignificant and powerless.

The ultimate goal for Transformed Living coaches who utilize the PIC Approach is to more accurately interpret the information they receive and how to be discerning and wise in presenting the information given to others. Principles, Instructions and Convictions are all helpful when properly applied and can help leaders navigate the sometimes treacherous waters within their relationships and spheres of influence. Each is necessary, the key is learning how to identify and apply each one appropriately, and coaching others to do the same.

The blurring of these categories happens every day in a myriad of ways. When we learn to make the distinction between them, we can more effectively coach others to do the same. Then we are better able to identify the causes of confusion and thus resolve issues more efficiently, more effectively and in a timely manner.


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