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

As Good as Gold

Written by: on January 18, 2023

My husband has been a dedicated fan of all gold mining shows on the Discovery channel for years. They could be mining in Alaska, in the Bering Sea, in the desert or jungle or remote rivers. The miners spend resources upon resources to dig deep in the hope of finding specks – or at best, a nugget – of gold. There are a lot of risks to find the gold. There is a necessity of a team to find the gold. There are unforeseen challenges that inevitably impact the mining. It is a messy business in every sense of the word. Even as I write this, my husband is watching one such show. While the shows feel all the same to me, it does help me contextualize the analogy that Camacho uses throughout his book, Mining for Gold. Camacho uses an acrostic to detail the four concepts and details six principles of what he terms gold mining or coaching leadership. Between the concepts and principles, Camacho focuses on the gold that is embedded in everyone and the need for Christian leaders to be intentional and focused, partnering with God in identifying and uncovering the gem within the person.

Throughout the book Camacho delves into scriptural basis for the different principles and provides practical action steps that a leader can take. While the book felt on the line of being overly spiritualized I time, I most appreciated his emphasis that it is God that does the work, and we are simply invited to cooperate with him.[1] This felt refreshing for me as so much of leadership content today tends to feel pressurized towards the individual leader doing more, being skilled in all things, having the answers to the problems, and success or failure resting solely upon the leaders. While many of the books we have read over the last few years challenge these notions in different ways, Camacho stated it the most plainly and consistently. His focus on the need for coaches and leaders who are relational, rely on the Holy Spirit, and who know how to thrive in who they have been created to be feels to be a leadership modality that alleviates the pressure. Yes, we are called to steward well what and who we have been entrusted with, to work with excellence, and to be intentional, the real transformation is the responsibility of the Lord. I cannot do what the Lord can. But I can do what He has called me to and partner him to invest in the Kingdom work.

I have been fortunate throughout my life to have wonderful coaches. I consider myself fortunate that I can think of several people that exude the principles that Camacho details and have taken interest in me while cooperating with the Lord as the gold is uncovered and refined in me. I have been mentored and coached through some of the most challenging personal and professional seasons, sponsored towards expanding my own leadership capacities, and pointed towards the cross when I am doing the work in my own strength. Right now, however, I find myself in a strange season of realizing that I have a unique coaching leadership opportunity: how to lead in and through cancer.

  • How do I continue to steward the suffering well?
  • How do I still see the significance of my earthly vocation when it truly does not feel important considering the life and death realities?
  • How do I continue to lead/coach well when my capacities may be limited?
  • How do I see the potential of the gold around me when I physically feel exhausted?
  • How do I stay intentional when my cognitive functioning dips after treatments?
  • How do I press forward when I do not feel like thriving?
  • How do I cooperate with the Lord in this season of suffering and endurance?

Perhaps this season, one that is leading me further into the reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit is allowing me to welcome His leading in ways I haven’t before as I simply cannot physically or cognitively do certain things in my own strength. I have found myself, even considering potential significant vocational transitions and opportunities, to hold the job more loosely, and instead clinging tighter to the Lord – His guidance, trust in His ability to move me, and confidence that He truly is working all things together.

[1] Camacho, 3.

About the Author

Kayli Hillebrand

Associate Dean of International and Experiential Education

15 responses to “As Good as Gold”

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hey Kayli,

    First off, I want to start off with some encouragement. I remember my senior year of college at Vanguard University. That was your first year on staff. Even though our overlapping time was brief, as I look back on it, you left an impression of being a highly relational leader. You led with kindness, relationship, care, and commitment to calling people upwards. I remember you inviting a few students, myself included, to your home. I’ll never forget that night.

    In regards to your blog, yes I agree, there is far too much leadership content out there that is self-dependent. I found the reliance on the Spirit as the primary refiner of people to be liberating.

    May you continue to lead the way you do, in the unique space of leading through the suffering brought on by cancer. You are an inspiration.

  2. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Kayli, thank you for your honest vulnerability. You are my hero how you just keep pressing on. I am sure that the struggle is very real behind the scenes. I appreciate your self-reflective questions. I think it is that type of questioning that is the most valuable aspect of coaching. Thank you for your tenacity to keep showing up and sharing your journey with us.

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Thank you Denise. At each milestone, I’m just as surprised I’m there as anyone else – it is truly His grace that is sustaining me in this season.

  3. mm Andy Hale says:


    You wrote about this book being a relief that an individual leader does not have to shoulder all the necessary skills. You wrote about your current struggles and the burden they bear. How might you utilize the current challenges you are facing to take a coach approach at your work?

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Andy: Just this week I was told about a new organizational structure that will move my role and team into a new area. There is also a possibility of taking on more responsibility in the oversight of this new area. Regardless, I think with any change of this nature comes the opportunity to ask questions. How are people feeling and processing? How are we as this new team going to function, especially helping identify and structure to where people can function in their sweet spots?

      I have also found myself reaching out to my coaches in this transition and making sure I’m processing my own feelings as I look towards a new set of unknowns.

  4. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Kayli, thanks for this great post. You wrote: “I have been fortunate throughout my life to have wonderful coaches.” Have you seen common threads of what made them good coaches as I’m sure they also brought their unique personality and approach. Also, your first question about how you can continue to steward the suffering so well: stay the course. I hope you know how much your endurance, positive attitude, and reliance upon God is impacting our group, including me.

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      Roy I say Amen to that.

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, Roy.

      Looking at my coaches, it largely boils down to their relational investment in me, their comfort in letting me take risks, helping me function in and further develop my skills and passions, and being comfortable with failure. They are not afraid to ask me hard questions and push me towards a better version of myself, and more importantly towards the Lord.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    Wow, Kayli. I often stand in awe of the Lord’s work in your life. It is remarkable. I admire your vulnerability, curiosity, and drive to continue to pursue the Lord.

    You ask some great questions… who can coach you in this new season? My prayer is that the Lord provide you everything you need to endure with joy. I can only imagine this too is part of your leadership journey. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Thank you, Eric. I have wonderful people in my life but am most certainly praying that there is more clarity in the connection between leadership and cancer as I move forward.

  6. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Kayli H: I also liked the emphasis in the book that it is God’s Spirit that does the work of growth and leading in our lives–we just cooperate with God. Others books on leadership do place too much emphasis on the individual striving to improve. Nice post.

  7. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Kayli, as others have said, your modeling of living life boldly in the face of cancer is awe inspiring!

    I wonder if you find any danger in only sailing (vs. doing some rowing)? Yes or no how would you expand on that?

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      I think there needs to be sailing and rowing – without the rowing, can you really appreciate the sailing? I think for many folks who feel like they are only rowing and rowing, the temptation is to not break enough to see if there is still a need to row or just function in that because it has become the norm.

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