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

Dirty and Difficult

Written by: on June 19, 2019

A fitting conclusion to our required reading for this program, Mining for Gold by Tom Camacho, encourages readers to draw out the best in those they lead. Mining often occurs in ordinary looking environs and frequently requires entering the depths to bring out the precious metal. This is a powerful metaphor to put into practice in the work of Christian leaders. Camacho reminds that it is frequently not those who appear to possess overt gifts and abilities that God desires to use. He says, “In our churches, businesses and Christian organizations, we can often lose sight of this clear pattern of God: He chooses to use the ordinary and unqualified. We look for the brightest, the most qualified, and those with the greatest skills. Like Samuel, we would have chosen Eliab, not David. In many ways we have lost the awe of Christ living in His people. We have forgotten God’s pattern to move powerfully through ordinary people.”[1]

The work of those often deemed ordinary is not to be overlooked. In fact, these are often those most necessary to achieve high purposes. The effort to help others be all that they were created to be is ultimately what the Church is meant to be about. However, too often those in leadership become consumed with their own thriving and pursuit of their own goals and fail to empower those around them. Again, Camacho reminds readers; “The power of the Coaching Leadership Process comes alive when we move beyond thinking in terms of our own thriving and we choose to help others thrive.[2]

Once again, I believe this is significant when it comes to connecting with emerging generations. Far too often I have had to remind church leadership that youth ministry is not working with the future of the church. The future of the church is not yet born. Children and young people represent the church as it is not as it will be. I am convinced that one of the forces working against young people remaining attached to faith communities after high school is that they never felt they were accepted as full participants. My perception continues to be that much of what is done in youth ministry settings is little more than babysitting, working toward the adult agenda of keeping kids involved but quiet. Even the Apostle Paul recognized the powerful influence emerging generations are meant to have on the church. He exhorts Timothy; “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”[3]

A thriving student ministry with a full calendar of programing and attendance numbers worth bragging about is no guarantee of a vibrant faith experience for these same students as adults. In many ways if there has been limited ‘Mining for Gold’ by leadership in their lives before they graduate from High School they are far less likely to wait around for it as adults. In fact they may be far more inclined to adopt what Camacho calls the ‘Orphan Mentality’ believing that; “I’m on my own. No one is there for me. It’s all up to me. I have to take care of everything by myself. No one is there to help me and guide me in my journey. Deep inside, I’m terribly afraid of failure, rejection and being alone.”[4]

Though it is unlikely that they will be erudite enough to express their feelings in these clearly explained terms many are communicating with their feet. I am convinced that the best of Camacho’s work is not simply about developing leadership, but the full body of Christ. Mining in the lives of all those with whom we minister, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or perceived value to our ministry goals necessitates that; “We learn to see the whole person…and get the big picture of who they are…We look for their unique God-given passion and design, and help them find their sweet spot. We are not just interested in their skills and how they can help our organization accomplish its goals. We are interested in their well-being and that they flourish.” Ultimately, we are to help each other develop into the man or woman God created us to be that God’s plan would be accomplished.

That is the Church I desire to be a part of. That is the leader I continue to strive to be. Mining is dirty and difficult work. Sometimes the ‘pay-off’ is slow to be realized but if it means playing a part in helping others, particularly young people, find their God given purpose and potential then I’m all in.



[1]Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching. Chicago, IL: IVP, 2019.


[3]1 Timothy 4:12 New International Version

[4]Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching. Chicago, IL: IVP, 2019.


About the Author

Dan Kreiss

Former director of the Youth Ministry program at King University in Bristol, TN and Dean of the School of Missions. I have worked in youth ministry my entire life most of that time in New Zealand before becoming faculty at King. I love helping people recognize themselves as children of God and helping them engage with the world in all its diversity. I am particularly passionate about encouraging the church to reflect the diversity found in their surrounding community in regard to age, gender, ethnicity, education, economic status, etc. I am a husband, father of 4, graduate of Emmanuel Christian Seminary, an avid cyclist and fly-fisherman still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

7 responses to “Dirty and Difficult”

  1. Great post, Dan!

    You mention, “Camacho reminds that it is frequently not those who appear to possess overt gifts and abilities that God desires to use.” This is very true; however, the majority of leaders invest in the obvious. Why do you think that the majority of people are selective in their investment of those around them? What are ways that we can create environments where all people are given the opportunity to be coached?

  2. I SO agree with you. That is the type of community I want to be involved in as well. How do you help churches move towards integrating youth fully into the body and life of the church? I wonder how reverse coaching might help here–where the youth coach the church leaders!

  3. Jay Forseth says:


    What a captivating title of your Blog. Well done!

    The sentence in your Blog that I will not forget is this, “Far too often I have had to remind church leadership that youth ministry is not working with the future of the church.” I was wondering where you were going with that, then you explained with this powerful addition, “The future of the church is not yet born.” WOW!

    Perhaps you and Jean have gone out with the best bang, as you have closed out these Blogs with real jewels.

    See you Monday, roomie, and I want you to know I believe in you. You will continue to do great things for our Lord.

  4. Kyle Chalko says:

    Great job Dan. Your explanation in the beginning reminds me of sitting in hong Kong and Jackie pullingers ministry. The director told us, we develop everyone and see what comes up. That felt like mining for gold.

    Their statement, and yours, makes me wonder,

    How can you tell if someone is a David or a Saul?

  5. Great last post Dan…we are finally done with all the course work and ready to move on to finish our dissertations. Halleluja!!! I so agree with you that the work of mining for leaders is a dirty and difficult job but often worth the effort. Thanks also for reminding us that we don’t always see the fruits of our labor right away. I’m grateful to have met you in this program and hope we can stay in touch after we graduate, and I look forward to playing in London.

  6. Mike says:


    Congratulations on finishing well! 2 years done! PTL.
    Dirty and difficult to me means leadership hurts. Yep, I get it too.

    It has been an honor to study, analyze, critique, talk, and listen to each other the past 2 years.

    See you in London.

    Stand firm,


  7. Jean Ollis says:

    Dan, I have no doubt you will create a community/church which mines for Gold. You are an incredible friend and wise peer. Thank you for your excellent perspective, friendship, and vulnerability. Keep riding your bike, and finding great fishing spots in the mountains :). I am a better person for knowing you! 🙂

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