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

Coaching: No One Stands Alone

Written by: on January 19, 2023

I played college soccer many years ago, shortly after the earth cooled. In a tournament, we trailed at halftime. The coach rallied us with an inspiring halftime challenge that led to a comeback victory. Tom Comacho’s Mining For Gold reads like an inspirational speech. Since the topic of this book is coaching, the upbeat, let’s-do-this spirit that permeates the words only makes sense. The author states his premise in his introduction, “This book is written to help in this vital process of identifying, moulding (sic) and shaping thriving kingdom leaders.”[1] Leadership in God’s economy includes the development of others for kingdom purposes.

This Christian book on successful coaching contains two main sections. The author’s faith in and reliance upon God adds to a coaching approach that goes beyond human technique and first factors the Holy Spirit into the coaching equation. The book’s first section seeks to help people to identify the potential in the people around them. The second section elaborates on Comacho’s six principles that lead to one’s thriving according to God’s design for them. Each chapter ends with penetrating “deeper-level questions” and “potential next steps” that turn the preceding information and theory into an opportunity for application.

I found the book’s second section especially helpful for understanding Comacho’s concept of coaching. Each chapter in the section elucidates one of the six “principles of thriving.” Those principles are:

  1. The Holy Spirit does the work of refining.
  2. Our true identity is the foundation of thriving.
  3. We thrive when we cooperate with our God-given design.
  4. Each of us has a sweet spot: the place we most naturally bear fruit.
  5. The cross: God’s great refining tool.
  6. All true thriving is relational.[2]

Among those principles, I have personally experienced the truth of numbers four and six in my leadership journey. I was thirty-three when I began my role as a Lead Pastor. I quickly found myself overwhelmed with responsibilities that led me to question whether or not I fit the role. I contemplated a shift to a different role. The Board Chair at the time invited me to lunch, and when I told him of my struggles, he asked me to track my calendar in great detail for two weeks. After those two weeks, we met again, and he asked me this question: “In all that you did, what can someone else do, and what can only you do?” As we processed the items on the calendar, several items got delegated to others. Responsibilities only I could assume stayed on my future calendar.

The results dramatically changed the dynamics of my role, making me more effective. In the attempt to do everything, I did nothing well. That learning experience led to two principles I still seek for my staff and myself: 1) spend most of your time doing what only you can do and do best, and; 2) staff to your weaknesses. If we work primarily in our strongest areas of giftedness, we will be more productive and our current leadership team actively seeks to match staff roles to staff gifting. Comacho cites Bob Logan as saying, “thriving leaders spend 80% of their time working in their sweet spot.”[3] That goal requires self-awareness about one’s strengths and weaknesses.

For those in leadership over others, the “sweet spot” principle applies to the responsibility of managing others. Comacho writes, “As coaching leaders, we want to help leaders discover and live from their sweet spot. . .Our sweet spot is the place where we naturally bear the most fruit for the kingdom.”[4] In addition, wise leaders will exercise a strategy in hiring. No one possesses strengths in every area or all the gifts, so hire people whose gifts complement your own. The biblical analogy of the church as a body should inform followers of Jesus of the dynamic interrelation available by incorporating diverse gifts. As the Apostle Paul stated, “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (I Corinthians 12:20 ESV)

This book also relates to my GFU Project in a significant way. I am producing an actionable tool enabling existing ministry leaders to onboard people new to the Christian faith toward future church leadership. Digital content gets processed in a relational context while gaining experiential learning by serving. In the relational component of my project, I have consistently used the word “mentor” for the ministry leader. This week’s reading challenged me about the use of that word. The definitions of mentoring and coaching I have encountered contain overlap. The two words do not signify a hardline distinction but more of a dotted line that allows for shared traits and actions. As I complete my project, I need to create a job description for the mentors. I believe some material from Mining For Gold will be included. Part of what I envision for my project gets expressed in Comacho’s final chapter. “As coaching leaders, we must focus on the principles that lead to our own flourishing. Then we must lay down our lives to help as many other leaders as possible focus on the thing that they need to thrive.”[5] May the next chapter of the church produce many new, thriving leaders for kingdom impact.

[1] Tom Comacho, Mining For Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 4.

[2] Ibid., 93-94.

[3] Ibid., 140.

[4] Ibid., 131.

[5] Ibid., 182.

About the Author


Roy Gruber

Husband, father, pastor, student, and sojourner in Babylon

11 responses to “Coaching: No One Stands Alone”

  1. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Roy, I love how you are able to reflect your on-going journey to grow. Could you explain more about how you would develop leaders in their strengths from a volunteer perspective. Many churches I work with do not have the possibility to staff or hire to fill their weaknesses.

    • mm Roy Gruber says:

      Denise, when it comes to volunteers, we’ve encouraged the use of spiritual gifts tests to give direction about areas of service. However, THE most effective ways for people to find their place of service is to serve. Ultimately, our gifting becomes clear by doing. We take a very open approach to helping people to find a place to serve in our church as volunteers. We say, “Get plugged in and let’s talk about that as you go. That may or may not be the place long-term.” I believe people fear committing to specific service if they don’t enjoy it. We try hard to alleviate that fear and encourage people to try it in an area they like. We like the word “journey” when it comes to life with Jesus, including finding our place to make an impact.

  2. mm Andy Hale says:


    You are a naturally gifted pastoral mentor. What are some of the best practices you can share with us?

    • mm Roy Gruber says:

      Andy, thanks for you kind words. I feel that I’m still learning what it means to be a coach. I wish I understood the power of words in the lives and ministries of those with whom I served. I will give you what I believe has been the most impactful trait: vulnerability. When a senior leader honestly shares struggles or weaknesses, it helps to create a healthy team. I’ve been around leaders who never admit weakness and that weakens the team. It seems as though the more I admit weakness, the stronger we get. The verse that has stuck with me in recent days is: “God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” (Ps. 138:6)

  3. mm Eric Basye says:

    1. What college did you play soccer at?

    2. I love the way you connected with the word “coach” vs mentor. Roy, YOU ARE A COACH. I hear it in your stories, as you talk about your staff (and how amazing they are), and even your doctoral project.

    Thinking about investing in future generations, what are you most excited/passionate about?

    • mm Roy Gruber says:

      Eric, thanks for your encouragement. I plaed soccer at the King’s College in NY. Also, I feel unqualified to take the title of coach. As I look to the future, what excites me is the potential and quality of up and coming leaders. When I see some of our younger staff members, I only wish I was as together as they are in that point in their lives. I also believe the next generations will correct some of the mistakes of my own generation. They instinctively spot genuiness and phoniness. We need more genuiness in ministry – phoniness is hurting the Bride of Christ in major ways. I also think younger generations get the idea of community and connection in positive ways. Conversely, it really bothers me when the negatives of Millennials and Gen Z gets pointed out ad nauseum. While the quantity of future leaders may be less than recent times, I am excited about the quality of leaders to come.

  4. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Roy G: Sounds like the timing of this book meshes well with your project–it’s fortuitous that you can use the book this last semester. I thought it was inspirational as well; I read the entire book and got a lot out of it. I think I need to be coached and I don’t think I’m ready to do coaching.

  5. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Roy, Thank you for your reflection.

    I too found his comment, “We are not created to have all the gifts. We are only asked to steward our gifts for the good of others and the glory of God.” to be liberating. But I also paused, and asked, “if I always stay in my strengths and never venture out of my comfort zone don’t I then chose the wide path? What are your thoughts on this?

    • mm Roy Gruber says:

      Nicole, thanks for you questions – they are good ones. I do believe God challenges us. I also believe our gifting can shift along the way, so we should not always assume that what we do now as our “sweet spot” will always be that. I see myself aging out of a Sr. Pastor role in the next few years but I plan to continue to serve in some capacity. I don’t know what that is right now and it is likely very different than what I have done for thirty-one years. A mistake of the “sweet spot” principle would be putting God in a box, so to speak, by closing the door on other opportunities or challenges.

  6. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    I would echo Eric that it is clear how wonderful of a coach you are to those you walk with in your various contexts. I’m wondering if you have any stories of examples of what has made coaching others challenging over the years and if you see any trends.

    • mm Roy Gruber says:

      Kayli, thanks for you encouragement. In my earlier years, I had some challenges with staff members I “inherited,” meaning they held their role before I took my role. There are a number of hard stories from that season. Trust did not exist and that torpedoes coaching, mentoring, etc. In my current context, the trust level is as high as it’s ever been in my times in ministry. The results of that are positive in many ways, coaching included. If a coach has a challenge, that is hard to hear from someone you do not trust. Conversely, we can (and should) hear a lot from people that know are FOR us. Coaching seems only as good as the trust in relationships. As we include younger generations on our staff, I believe they understand the trust issue in better ways than my generation does. If they sense that someone cares about you and your future, they will open themselves to input and direction.

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