“We always look for the next person up.” This rang through my ears with enough pure elation that it would be an understate to say that it made my day. It was said to me by a women in her seventies as we debriefed interviewing candidates for an open staff position. She said it with a smile and look in her eye to let me know she had heard me when I said that to her months ago. This phrase had changed how she understood her purpose in the church and she wanted me to know that is what she does now. This perspective had changed my life and now it had changed hers: that is what the church is all about.
Looking for the next person up is the reason that Tom Camacho wrote the book, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching. Sharing his own experience of how coaching has changed his life, Camacho persuasively observes that, “Each Christian leader carries a deposit of God’s nature inside them through the new birth.” Not only does each person carry this “gold” inside of them but it must be “mined” out through the coaching process. Camacho argues that, “We are called as leaders to mine for the gold in others, cooperate with God as he refines that gold and then help them invest that gold in the kingdom.” He finds his vision of discipleship and mentoring from the scripture that states, “He will sit as a refiner as a purifier of sliver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”
Camacho compelling offers four ideas that shape his coaching and leadership:
- Gold is everywhere
- Open your eyes to see it
- Learn the skills to draw it out
- Develop others continuously
What makes this concepts compelling is that Camacho argues against the “scarcity mentality” when it comes to the amount and type of leaders in our churches. Every church leaders has had the thought, “I wish I more and better leaders.” Camacho is pointing out that there is not a scarcity of good leaders. The people in our pews have leadership gold in them. It needs to be mined and refined, which is the work of the church all along.
While the book is a gold mine of practical leadership principles, the aspect that connected with the most is working in my sweet spot. With all the demands of leadership, it is often difficult to work in my sweet spot on a daily basis. I found myself thinking this week, “There are just too many random things happening.” While I love the variety, it can be frustrating to constantly focus on tasks that are not located in that intersection of my “passions, wiring, and fruit.” I can relate to the description that we can feel “trapped in an environment where we are constantly asked to work outside our design.”
The key to spending more time in our sweet spot is the 80/20% principle. Camacho explains that this is the place of “thriving” for leaders. The principle states that we seek to spend 80% of our work in the sweet spot of our calling and passions, with the 20% left for those unavoidable tasks that have to be done. The way to move into spending more time in the sweet spot is delegation. This is often initially a challenge for many leaders. This kind of delegation is when the church is at its best as one person’s 20% aligns with another person’s 80%. Then delegation becomes a joy for the one giving up a task and the one who is spending more of their time in their sweet spot.
This is when the church and the leader are truly at their best. This is the idea that drives Camacho and what he wants to invest in others. It is a mindset that changes our perspective as we look for the next person up as a way of discipleship and living in the Kingdom of God. It is a life changing perspective that is worth our time. As Camacho concludes, “People matter to God. They are the investment that will never lose value.”
- Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold (Inter-Varsity Press, 2019).
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 9.
- Ibid., 4.
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 5.
- Ibid., 136-140.
- Ibid., 136.
- Ibid., 140.
- Ibid., 140-141.
- Ibid., 164.