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.” 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:
- The Holy Spirit does the work of refining.
- Our true identity is the foundation of thriving.
- We thrive when we cooperate with our God-given design.
- Each of us has a sweet spot: the place we most naturally bear fruit.
- The cross: God’s great refining tool.
- All true thriving is relational.
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.” 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.” 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.” May the next chapter of the church produce many new, thriving leaders for kingdom impact.
 Tom Comacho, Mining For Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 4.
 Ibid., 93-94.
 Ibid., 140.
 Ibid., 131.
 Ibid., 182.