Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Golden Nugget

Written by: on June 20, 2019

Tom Camacho’s book gives a beautiful overview of the gifts of coaching in the Kingdom of God and makes it is difficult to pick a direction to reflect upon. I would like to be coached by someone like Tom Camacho. Who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this?

  1. Deep Listening
  2. Asking Great Questions
  3. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit
  4. Determining the Right Next Steps[1]

But I knew from the title Mining for Gold that I needed to do a bit of work on my own personal story and the use of “gold” as a metaphor in a ministry leadership context.

My youth pastor believed that God had told him when he landed in our city that God would give him “one golden nugget”. This extra-special student would be the instrument God would use to usher in a city-wide revival. My youth pastor did not need twenty or even ten golden nuggets; all he needed was one. He was extremely clear on this point.

At fourteen, he and I were both convinced that I was “the one”. This was mostly prestigious and amazing to begin with. It later became a burden I could no longer sustain and pressure I could not live up to.

I distinctly remember wondering whether I was “the golden nugget” before my senior year. I was not certain any longer. The fruit of my leadership and evangelizing had not been as vigorous as before. But I did have a growing awareness that I did not want Amy or anyone else to be “the one”. Because who, then, would I be? I affirmed to him again my calling and position to be the one student leader big enough to handle the pressure and expectations of my church community.

It is not surprising that I have a sensitivity to pressing and pushing the sheep. It is not shepherding. And I am sensitive to the dark side of transformational leadership where the success of the mission can subtlety become more important than the people.[2] And I am sensitive to language that elevates certain gifts over others. We all want to feel special and unique. And truly we are each intrinsically unique. As leaders though, we must be careful to not manage or control people through superlatives. The “best”, the “one”, etc. are not necessarily off-limit words but ones we must be very careful with.

What I so appreciate about Tom’s approach is the emphasis on the universality of gold. “Gold is everywhere.[3]” We both believe that it lies in every person, as opposed to the view that only few, rare people have a gold deposit. Some may take more excavation than others but what is important is the belief that it does inherently exist. Vineyard’s mantra that “all get to play” undergirds this belief and pushes against celebrity church culture.

A coach of mine has encouraged me to contemplate “our gloriously common calling” to serve and love God. This has helped me to not idolize uniqueness, to compete with others less and release the pressure to do something big for big’s sake.

In my twenties, I ran into several students that had heard my youth pastor preach the story of my high school life and they would say “oh you are the one! You were the golden nugget!” I usually struggled for words to respond in these situations but now I know what I would say. We are all golden nuggets. We are all needed and necessary in the body of Christ. I am, of course, different from you, but I am not more valuable in the Kingdom. We complement each other and understanding this is how the good work of the Kingdom continues to gain ground.

[1]Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019), 1-3.

[2]Dennis Tourish, The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective. (Hove: Routledge, 2013), 70.

[3]Camacho, 5-6.

About the Author

Andrea Lathrop

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, mom and student. I live in West Palm Beach, Florida and I have been an executive pastor for the last 8+ years. I drink more coffee than I probably should every day.

11 responses to “A Golden Nugget”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with us Andrea . . . and what a great response you have to everyone now: “Yes, we are all golden nuggets!”

  2. Rhonda Davis says:

    Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your experience with us. Your coach’s challenge to remember our “gloriously common calling” is a compelling one. I wish it was not so easy for me to forget this.

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Andrea, this is excellent and so important in this day of celebrity church culture. I have seen the damaging effects of “destiny” language on people’s lives. Why can’t we understand that each has a part to play in the body of Christ and no member is more important than another and ONLY Jesus is the head. Great story, Andrea!

  4. Mario Hood says:

    Wow, what a powerful post. I can clearly see how even in my own life I had tried to be the one for God! I wonder what language we need to use instead of this competition language.

  5. Sean Dean says:

    As a former youth pastor I hear this story and think about how detrimental it is to put that kind of weight on a teenager that isn’t fully formed and then to talk about it to other teens who, by extension, learn they are less than. You clearly overcame the weight and have come to a healthy resolution over it. Thanks for your perspective and sharing your insights.

  6. Thank you Andrea, I. Really like your use of your story to highlight Camacho’s emphasis that gold is everywhere in every believer. This is a very affirming truth especially in the lives of the vulnerable children that we reach out to and their families. The challenges of life makes these vulnerable children have low esteem and think lowly of themselves and we always have to remind them of how precious they are to God. We’re all golden nuggets that God is molding and preparing for greater works that will glorify Him.

  7. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and how you have responded in healthy life-giving ways. Your summation statement is helpful and complete, “We are all needed and necessary in the body of Christ. I am, of course, different from you, but I am not more valuable in the Kingdom. We complement each other and understanding this is how the good work of the Kingdom continues to gain ground.” I do not know if it is unique to our Western culture, that we at times we feel the need to utilize manipulative language to embellish what the Holy Spirit is doing. We are his people, we are his family, this is his work, and this is his kingdom. Blessings on you and you share your story of freedom. Thanks again and see you in London!

  8. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Ahh, the hope and tragedy of youth. At that period of time when your self identity is forming you are at your most responsive and vulnerable. Most people want to be seen, celebrated and secure in the future before them. Unfortunately it is a hard lesson when celebrity requires conformity and obligation. It’s one of the reasons I have trouble with adults manipulating young people into a vision of the Kingdom that few of them will be able to bear in the long term. It’s a reminder that any vision offered, is a human one and often flawed. Your journey of rediscovery of self and God is a secondary unintended consequence of a well meaning action in your formational years. In fairness, few people escape adolescence unscathed, which is why adults are often susceptible to ongoing “gold nugget” promises. Good mentoring or coaching doesn’t play that game. It helps you rediscover kinship with God, your own shifting strengths and to be the best incarnation of Jesus ministry you can be on your own terms before God. This is a great illustrative and personal story, Andrea. Thanks. Appreciated.

  9. Karen Rouggly says:

    So good as always. I didn’t think about this shadow side while reading the story so thanks for bringing it to light for me. I appreciate your vulnerability and sharing hard but good truths that remind us that we’re all important and golden nuggets!

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