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

Look for the Next Person Up

Written by: on January 20, 2023

“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.[1] 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.”[2] Not only does each person carry this “gold” inside of them but it must be “mined” out through the coaching process.[3] 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.”[4] 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.”[5] 

Camacho compelling offers four ideas that shape his coaching and leadership:[6]

  1. Gold is everywhere
  2. Open your eyes to see it
  3. Learn the skills to draw it out
  4. 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.”[7] I can relate to the description that we can feel “trapped in an environment where we are constantly asked to work outside our design.”[8] 

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.”[11]


  1. Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold (Inter-Varsity Press, 2019).
  2. Ibid., 3. 
  3. Ibid., 9. 
  4. Ibid., 4. 
  5. Ibid., 3. 
  6. Ibid., 5. 
  7. Ibid., 136-140. 
  8. Ibid., 136. 
  9. Ibid., 140. 
  10. Ibid., 140-141. 
  11. Ibid., 164. 

About the Author


Chad McSwain

Chad is a systematic creative serving in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years, Chad is a professional question-asker and white-board enthusiast, who enjoys helping people discover their own passions and purpose. A life-long learner, he has a B.A, Philosophy - Univ. Central Oklahoma, M.A Theology - Fuller Seminary, M.Div. Perkins School of Theology at SMU and is pursuing a Doctor of Leadership - George Fox University. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving as Lead Pastor of Whitesboro UMC. Chad and his wife, Brandi live in Prosper, Texas along with their three children, two pugs and a chameleon.

6 responses to “Look for the Next Person Up”

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hey Chad,

    Working in my sweet spot 80% of the time is the dream. I’d say I’m at 45-50%. I guess this is an encouragement to do what I can and delegate as much as possible in order to get a little bit closer to that 80%. What would you say is your “sweet spot”?

    Also, what does having an eye out for who’s next work within the UMC ecclesiological system (being that pastors are placed and moved around once every, I believe, few years)?

    • mm Chad McSwain says:

      Hi David
      Same…I would say 50% for me. Having worked on a large staff, it seems initially easier because a larger staff can be more specialized. Yet, I think the more we invest in volunteers, no matter the staff size, we are able to move closer to the 80%.

      Great question about investing in others in the UMC iterate system. While not every pastor does this and can get away with it because they could be moved, I still think it is the imperative of the Christ-like leader. I have always invested in leaders in my ministry (often because I had no other choice if I wanted help). In youth ministry, I invited students to help with everything and had a Student Adult Leadership Team. At the last two churches I served, I started internship programs and now have three people pursing ordination from my ministry (two from my current rural church). I still feel like I could do more if I focused more of my time on intentionally investing in people for the long run, even if I am not their pastor in a few years. I think it is the best gift I can give to the pastor the follows and to the church I serve.

  2. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    I love the brief story you shared about the lady in your church. That was powerful.

    Given that Camacho encourages pastors to develop leadership gold from within their church pews (no scarcity of people) – have you thought about if that is something you may focus on (if you are not already intentionally doing so) in the near future?

    • mm Chad McSwain says:

      Hi Audrey
      Absolutely! This is what I love. It does feel like mining for gold or catching lightening in a bottle! I have staff pursuing ordination in my tradition, I have two volunteer staff members and starting new ministry initiatives led by volunteers. The book actually encouraged me to focus even more of my time looking for present-future leaders in my church.

  3. Michael O'Neill says:

    Great post, Chad. How do you mine for gold at your church? Do you have a model you use or toss out needs and see who responds? I am struggling with volunteers sometimes and I do not know the best way to unlock that potential in people that Camacho says we all have. Thanks.

  4. Kristy Newport says:


    Oh my goodness, yes! I agree:
    “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.”
    I hope you are enjoying discipling those volunteer staff members! I am curious how you identified them for the roles that they are in OR did they sign up for the job? My questions are similar to Michael O’Neils.

    I pray you are finding that you are working in your sweet spot! If you were to sum up what your sweet spot is…how would you describe it?
    Good post CM!

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