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

Mining For Treasure

Written by: on January 17, 2023

The last two and a half years of leadership reading, and discovery got me asking these questions, what is the purpose of the church, and are we fulfilling our missional purpose. I have observed a number of churches with cute catch phrases, and mission statements. But are those expressions of cleaver branding or God’s desired intention for us. Being an individual who grew up on the fringes of the subculture of school, I have always been sensitive to the disenfranchised, and unseen within every environment I have found myself. It did not seem to matter who came into my circle of influence I made it my mission to uncover that treasure buried within their brokenness. I find myself challenging colleagues to reevaluate their purpose. Maybe we ought to consider our role as leaders is to be gift miners, who reveal the treasure of God within each one of us. And empower one another to use that gift to bless others, within and without of the church context.

Tom Camacho’s Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching,[1] is a look at extracting the precious treasure of leaders through coaching. Camacho is a pastor and master-coach within the Vineyard movement. His expertise in coaching has been implemented in the areas of” church planting, missions, non-profit organizations, military aviation and business.” [2] The book itself has two parts.

Part one: God’s mining process: discovering gold. The six chapters is this part takes leaders through the process of seeing beyond what is presented to the raw material of value within individuals. He uses coaching practices, of “asking great questions,” [3] and reflective listening to cultivate God’s rich deposit within an individual. The ultimate goal is to extract and reveal a potential leader’s giftedness and set them on a journey of refinement, opposed to searching for people to fill slots of need within the church or organization.[4]

Part two: God’s refining process: six principles that lead to thriving, encompasses entrusting the real work to the Holy Spirit.[5] The role of our identity is embodied in how God has created us.[6] The importance of working in cooperation with our “God-given design,” [7] which opens the door to our “sweet spot” [8] and a life of thriving. The end of this section Camacho discusses the role of refinement through challenges and hardship.[9] He concludes the book with an emphasis on the significance of relationships throughout the process.[10]

Each chapter includes biblical and practical examples, as well as concrete coaching practices. At the end of every chapter is a section on what the author calls “deeper level questions,” and “potential action steps.” [11]

While I agree with the underling themes that we are created with by God intentionally, with a specific identity in which he holds the keys. We as leaders are the tools of the Holy Spirit, or can be tools, to reveal those unique special treasures. People have their most fulfilled life when they live in harmony with their design. And a person’s sweet spot is the place of greatest, perceived fulfillment. I found myself being irritated with some of the author’s biblical examples, and choices of words in regard to identity. Let me explain.

I am reminded that every book or resource has its limitations by the fact there is a beginning and an end. I also realize that Camacho’s focuses on the development of Christian leader coaches and how they can implement these practices. While he does list “other resources for our freedom,” [12] I have this reaction within me that feels like an emphasis on the latest fad. This could be that there is a coach for everything at this moment, or that the tribe I am a part of has trained all its upper leadership as coaches, yet there appears to be little effective implementation.

I also struggle with his emphasis on gold and leaders.  Too often I have observed leaders overlook the treasures in those who are in their midst because they are set on identifying the raw gold and not the other rare materials. Every individual carry “a treasure inside themselves.” [13] The Holy Spirit lives and through any believer who is willing to listen and obey his voice.  My sense is that the primary responsibility of a godly leader is to be a gift miner of all those God has entrusted to them. If we are in fact living stones being built into a temple for God’s dwelling (1 Peter 2:5), we ought to be in the business of equipping all the raw ore to be refined into their intended God given purpose.[14] I would like to think that a well refined leader is the moldable gold that holds the precious living stones together in the temple.

Here are a couple more, brief thoughts:

  • At times I was not sure if the author was referring to me as a leader or the people I would be mining for.
  • The example of Barnabas as a coaching model for Paul. I thought that was a bit of a stretch, partly because he the scripture, in my understanding, does not specifically illustrate any coaching aspects. Rather, Barnabas behaves more as an encourager and a relational advocate, not only with Paul but also John Mark.
  • “Sweet Spot” [15] I would agree that we all enjoy working out of our sweet spot. However, in my experience a sweet spot is not a destination but rather a fluid time of fruitfulness that is often followed by a time of refinement. Coming out of that refinement there is often a new sweet spot or revelation of identity.
  • Solitude: The author mentions that it is the individual’s journey and that they are responsible for its results. But there is no discussion of the value of solitude in a leader’s development. “Solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God’s even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry.” [16]



[1] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching, First published (Nottingham: IVP, 2019).

[2] Ibid, cover.

[3] Ibid., 27.

[4] Ibid., 28.

[5] Ibid., 91.

[6] Ibid., 105.

[7] Ibid., 121.

[8] Ibid., 133.

[9] Ibid., 146.

[10] Ibid., 157.

[11] Camacho, Mining for Gold.

[12] Ibid., 154.

[13] Ibid., 3.

[14] Ibid., 4.

[15] Ibid., 133.

[16] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart, 1st Ballantine trade pbk. ed (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003), 27.

About the Author


Denise Johnson

Special Education teacher K-12, School Counselor K-12, Overseas field worker in Poland,

8 responses to “Mining For Treasure”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    Wow, amazing brief thoughts. While reading this book I paused to watch a short film on the Grasberg Mine in Papua New Guinea. Two of my students were from there and I watched as gold, silver and copper were searched for and found at over 14,000 ft, barricaded by mangrove swamps and tribes who argued that the tribe “over there” were actually cannibals. I became clear to me that multiple minerals where found consistently in the same place. All had to be coaxed out of the ground but each had its own usage (arguably copper was needed most, before the advent of fiber optics). Your comments reminded me that as we seek to “mine” that we will find in our pans different elements that when properly handled will fulfill different important roles in the church. Thanks for your comments. Shalom…Russ

  2. mm Andy Hale says:


    You did a great analysis of the book. However, I felt many biblical illustrations were a bit of a stretch. Probably the best comparison of a coaching relationship in the Bible was Jesus, of course. How many times did Jesus respond to a question with a question?

    I always struggle when people use David as a positive example. This guy sexually assaulted a woman, killed off her husband after she got pregnant, allowed the country to suffer instead of his egotistical son, and allowed one son to rape his half-sister, doing nothing about it. But he was a man after God’s own heart…

  3. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Denise, I appreciate your heart for people on the fringes who come with brokenness. Do you think coaching folks on the fringes is more similar or different from others? In our context in Utah, we see people traumatized by their past church experience. I can think of a number of young ladies that would benefit from being coached by you! I also liked you comment about the “sweet spot” and how that can be fluid. I believe God equips people and sometimes that can be for a time and a season.

  4. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Denise J: You make good points about Barnabas and whether or not he was really a coach for Paul. I also agree with your “sweet spot” insight. At times in my life I feel like God has taken me out of my sweet spot in order to grow and mature me. I rely on God more when I am OUT of my sweet spot, you know? Nice post.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    Good summary. I appreciated you sharing your struggles with the book too. Those on the fringes… yes, how often they are overlooked! I actually saw this as an affirming aspect of the work I have been involved in as it casts a vision of “gold” being within each of us, if only we will see it in one another and turn to the Lord.

    If you could request it, what would you have the author say differently to hit home with your heart and reservations with the book?

  6. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Denise I appreciate your honest reflection on the book.

    How would compare and contrast the “sweet-spot” with “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ― Frederick Buechner?

  7. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Denise: Thinking about all of the mining you did while you were physically in Poland, do you have any specific memory of finding or discovering gold in someone or a ministry?

  8. Elmarie Parker says:

    Denise, thank you for your thoughtful engagement with Camacho’s book. Very helpful analysis as you grapple with how his thoughts interact with your ministry experience and call. Like others, I was particularly impacted by your comment at the end about out ‘sweet spot’ being fluid and the movement between these times of consolation (‘sweet spot’ ministry) and times of desolation (times of refinement). I also really value your comments on the role of solitude. I’m curious how you have experienced solitude in seasons of consolation versus seasons of desolation? How would you describe the texture/nature of solitude in this fluid movement between the two?

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