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

Developing Kingdom Leaders or Kingdom People?

Written by: on January 17, 2023

Tom Camacho is clearly passionate about developing leaders—you can ‘feel’ his passion for the topic throughout the pages of his book, Mining For Gold. Here are some of my thoughts about a few of his points:

Points I Appreciate (Or a few specific ones among many):

• I appreciate his vision to develop people—whether ‘lay people’ (for lack of a better term) or staff. Our people are more than just ‘cogs in a machine’—they should be better disciples of Jesus, people, team-members, and workers after their time under our leadership.

• I appreciate his central focus on our identity in Christ and how healthy leaders must have a healthy sense of self. I am hoping to further expand this essential requirement of self-knowledge for Christian leaders in my doctoral studies at GFU.

Points I Would Like More Clarity On:

• The author loosely defines mining for gold and coaching leadership as, “a fresh way to look at leadership development. It is a Spirit-led process.” (pg. 5) However, not long after that, he writes that he has seen people come alive through the coaching process, “In my work as a pastor, leader, and coach…” (pg. 18) How would he differentiate between these three terms? Clearly there is overlap between the terms, but they are also differentiated from one another. How would he apply coaching leadership in each particular role?

• A secondary question that comes up for me as someone who currently oversees six staff members in the context of ministry: How do you distinguish your role as ‘supervisor’ (with the attending vocational implications attached) from leadership coaching? Or perhaps more complex: As you dive into someone’s soul and unpack where they get their identity from, how do you appropriately draw lines between a ‘working-relationship’ and ‘mentoring’ and ‘coaching’ and ‘counselling’ and ‘spiritual direction’ and work ‘supervision’? The church doesn’t typically maintain healthy clarity in these places of convergence—where ‘church’ meets ‘employment’–and clarity of boundaries (such as, which ‘hat’ is being worn at what time) is quite important. I would have appreciated more clarity as to how ‘coaching leadership’ works itself out in vocational ministry contexts with the overlap of personal, vocational, spiritual, and organizational realities for each employee.

Points For Further Conversation:

• I wonder if Camacho’s definition of ‘the gold’ being ‘potential leaders’ (pg. 5) is too narrow of a definition.  In fact, he seems to define the ‘gold’ more broadly throughout his book. For example, chapter nine explores the essential interconnectedness of the Church as the ‘body of Christ’ where various people have various gifts for the church to function. One such gift is leadership, but there are many others–and the author affirms both the validity and necessity of each gift. As such, I would contend ‘the gold’ is the further development of people into their God-given identity and purpose. For some this may include some form of leadership and for many others it means other ways of serving the body and blessing the world in Jesus’ name and with his empowerment.  To summarize: are we only mining for gold if we are developing leaders?  It seems that most if not all of Camacho’s book would apply equally to the administrative assistant with the essential gifts of helps and administration and the pastor who is leading a community of people. 

If the above is true, the book could be called,  Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom People Through Coaching.

About the Author

Scott Dickie

12 responses to “Developing Kingdom Leaders or Kingdom People?”

  1. mm Kim Sanford says:

    I resonate with what you say about the blurry lines between “employer” and “disciple”. I hadn’t really thought of how messy that could get within a church context. We certainly experience that tension within our mission organization. We are technically employees of the organization but the expectations go far beyond anything that could be called a job description. New missionaries often chafe under the “requirements” that their whole family attend field retreats and Annual conferences. At the same time, supervisors are often expected to care for their direct reports in exceptional and pastoral ways. It can get very messy very quickly.

    • Scott Dickie says:

      Yes…Christian organizations are notoriously unclear and ‘messy’ as it relates to employment. This is, in part, inevitable as we try and combine ‘church family’ with ’employment’ and it can get exacerbated when Christian organizations–sometimes unknowingly–pull out the “but we are a family on mission together” card when it benefits the organization and at other times, pulls out the “but you’re an employee” card. That’s confusing and often hurtful to people.

  2. Jennifer Vernam says:

    “how do you appropriately draw lines between a ‘working-relationship’ and ‘mentoring’ and ‘coaching’ and ‘counselling’ and ‘spiritual direction’ and work ‘supervision’?” This is a big question! As a church-goer, I long for more accountability in church staff, as I agree, there are common issues that seem to be around accountability. I have not led in a church context, and hope to hear from others who have, but I am not sure that it needs to be much different.

    As a leader in a secular environment, I find that if I build a place of transparency and shared goals, the coaching leader role works for me. I get to wear various hats. As a boss, I set a standard. As a coach, I help someone assess their options for reaching that standard. As a boss, I check in on the progression to that standard… and the cycle continues.

    Someone who is fulfilling their calling will perform best in their role. Poor performance is often – maybe always- linkable to someone not operating in health within their talents, gifts, or calling. If I, as their leader, can help them find that place, even if it turns out not to be on my team, then we all win. Additionally, if we are in that place of health, then those that are working for me are high performers, who are empowered to reflect truth to me, as well, which also helps my performance.

    Of course there are exceptions, and those are painful. But, when I have coached a friend out of their role on my team to another role where they would be best suited, I have, without fail, had the person thank me for the support.

    Would love to hear the “yeah but’s” on this.

  3. Scott Dickie says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Jennifer…I generally agree with your assertion that coaching leadership is a beneficial and useful way of leading in any organization–secular or Christian. My primary question or concern is related to the complexity of relationships and the importance of ‘staying in our lanes’. While I believe that all of the development that Camacho talks about is really important work, I’m not convinced it should all be getting done by one person (ie. coach)–particularly if we were to throw in the ‘work supervisor’ hat into the mix. ‘Mining for gold’ includes listening to the spirit and asking questions that will allow the Spirit to bring insight and transformation for someone else. How is that different from ‘spiritual direction’? ‘Mining for gold’ includes helping people understand their identity. This deep work often includes exploring our family of origin and the wounds of our lives that cause us to live (and possibly to work) out of an unhealthy place. How is that different than counselling? On several occasions I have said to an employee, “This particular issue is affecting you and your experience of work or work effectiveness….and I would encourage you to find someone to unpack this with”. I’m not their spiritual director or their counsellor (nor am I professionally trained in either of those disciplines)….but as their supervisor or mentor (or even coach?) I can do part of the journey with them…but possibly not all of it. Perhaps because I am not trained to….or perhaps because I shouldn’t? To summarize: my wonderings are less related to the effectiveness of coaching leadership and more related to the ‘limits’ of coaching leadership. Specifically, I wonder if Camacho’s book would benefit from naming some of these complexities and limits so that well-meaning, big-hearted leaders don’t find themselves in ‘over their heads’ with the people they lead and possibly doing more harm than good.

    • Jennifer Vernam says:

      Completely agree. We need multiple voices in this process. And I could see how someone could have completed this book miss that point. Seems almost dangerous to try to go it alone. Thanks for clarifying this point.

  4. mm Russell Chun says:

    I am trying to digest what you and Jennifer are discussing (thank you, by the way for opening my eyes). Having never operated in a church administrative environment, much of what you say is new to me. I appreciate your comments, about “staying in your lane.” I am all too aware of my limitations in counseling techniques. My only saving grace is that our GoodSports Interns and coaches know that I want to supportive in what God is calling them to do. Still digesting what y’all said…Shalom…Russ

  5. Travis Vaughn says:

    Scott, your analysis is spot on. By the way, I love the framework you’ve used in your first two posts. This template helps the reader (like me) to walk away with something to chew on. But I digress. Back to your insight regarding what you appreciated from Camacho…specifically what you said about leaders having a healthy sense of self, I thought of Paul’s admonition to the leaders in Ephesus: “Pay careful attention to yourselves…” This is a topic I am also exploring in my doctoral project (as you know). I particularly liked Camacho’s points under what he believes a thriving leader looks like. Let’s talk about the rest of your post perhaps in the UK in September. I have some of the same (similar) questions. Or perhaps we should discuss later this spring.

    • Scott Dickie says:

      Hey Travis. Yes, I found his section on identity and the naming of our unhealthy motivations or harmful actions (when we’re not leading from a secure identity) to be particularly helpful and easily accessible for people who may be less prone to explore their inner world.

  6. Esther Edwards says:

    Whew! This thread of thought has given much to chew on.
    Scott, there is no getting around that the lines will become skewed at times as to “supervisor”, “coach”, “mentor” and “working-relationship” in a church setting. Furthermore, the given relational aspect of the church and its sense of fostering a family in community adds to the messiness of how to handle staff/leadership situations. Clarity of which hat you are wearing is crucial but I don’t know if it ever completely eliminates the tension of it all.
    This could definitely be an area that Camacho could have addressed to a greater degree. However, then would it have narrowed the book focus even further?

  7. mm Pam Lau says:

    Scott, I’m intrigued by your questions and your dialogue with the others: “How do you distinguish your role as ‘supervisor’ (with the attending vocational implications attached) from leadership coaching? Or perhaps more complex: As you dive into someone’s soul and unpack where they get their identity from, how do you appropriately draw lines between a ‘working-relationship’ and ‘mentoring’ and ‘coaching’ and ‘counseling’ and ‘spiritual direction’ and work ‘supervision’?” In my work as a mediator, I have watched CEOs of organizations struggle with “mentoring, coaching, counseling,” one of their direct reports who happens to be an executive leader. The reason it’s a struggle is because the direct report is not thriving in their role and responsibilities. The CEO is trapped because the only way forward is for someone to communicate honestly about the problem. And what I hear you asking is, “How is this appropriate in a vocational scenario?” or “What lines need to be drawn?” because inevitably, mentoring, coaching, counseling cannot all come from one person. As you know, I am looking at how leaders are supported for the long haul and your question opens the door to what you, Travis and I have talked about.

    • Scott Dickie says:

      I agree Pam…it can’t all be done by one person. Perhaps a missing piece in my writing on this point in the blog and comments above is the whole area of power difference and how that complicates things further. What do you do if your work supervisor wants to dive into your insecurities/identity issues but you aren’t super comfortable doing so with them….but he’s your boss? In Christian workplaces in particular–where we tend to emphasize WHAT we do flowing out of WHO we are- I have seen (and at times experienced) lots of mess and confusion due to lack of clarity concerning what sort of relationship this is (between an employee and their supervisor)….and also lack of appropriate boundaries by people in positions of power. That’s not to say I don’t believe in coaching leadership…I do! I just think it’s complicated and needs careful thinking in most contexts, but particularly Christian workplaces.

  8. Cathy Glei says:

    Thank you for deeply considering the functions of a coach, as shared in Camacho’s book. It sounds like a DTR moment. . . Define the Relationship. There are skills and methods of coaching, mentoring, and discipling where there is some cross over, for example, listening, asking questions, encouragement, etc.. There are many differences too. The intent and purpose of the relationship as defined by the two individuals has to be clarified. Coaches encourage us to explore our core values, behaviors, beliefs and ways of being and compel us to consider shifts in our habits, behaviors, etc. to align with our core values. There is an essential combination of safety, support, encouragement and forward movement. These are also essential in roles of mentor and supervisor. This is where I wonder if a DTR moment is needed, defining the relationship and purpose. A coach helps build the capacity of others by facilitating learning. Thank you for these questions to ponder.

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