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

Start with God

Written by: on January 19, 2023

We should always mine for the gold in people’s lives. “Look for the good.” Pastor Mack Timberlake often bellowed from the pulpit on Sunday mornings from the large Church planted in the middle of a country field in Creedmoor, NC.

Just as that seed (phrase ‘mining for gold’) inspired me all those years ago – so too did Tom Camacho’s book, Mining for God. While there were tons of insights that resonated with me, there are a few that I will highlight.

The first insight from the book is that the “mission of the kingdom is in continuous need of a fresh supply of godly leaders.”[1] The statement loosely correlates to the idea that there is a leadership bankruptcy – which we heard from Pastor Zondi and others in South Africa and read in Friedman’s book last semester. Bankruptcy implies there are leaders, but their character is not intact. In contrast, Camacho’s statement suggests that there need to be more leaders trained to fulfill the positions – more on that later.

The second highlight is the acronym G.O.L.D. that Camacho created to help us understand the four keys we should have to be effective with a Christian Coaching practice.

  • Gold is everywhere.
  • Open your eyes.
  • Learn skills to draw out.
  • Develop others.

While the acronym helps remember the four keys, the most important lesson for me was that Camacho states that it is a Spirit-led process.[2] This sets Christian coaching apart from all other types of coaching. To see the good in people, the gold, what better lens than the eyes of God?

The third insight was on page 30. Camacho explains that as leaders learn how God wired them to discover their gifts, talents, and calling, they can align with the plans and purposes God has for them. And then they begin to thrive.

Fourth, the chapter on relationships was vital. In this chapter, Camacho tied the entire process together. In previous chapters, the main context was leading organizations. This chapter focused on the value God places on us and the value we should put on others. The concept reminded me of the Scripture, what does it matter if we gain the whole world but lose everything we have? How many leaders have been so successful, but their family life and other relationships are in shambles? Camacho connects our relationship with the Vine, Jesus, to drinking deeply as a Christian coach and developing the ability to lead or coach others from within a deep place of love, humility, and tenderness.[3] Camacho’s concept of leading from within directly correlated with Simon Walker’s book, specifically, laying down one’s life for others. A powerful image and one that only those in a relationship with Jesus can achieve and sustain.

The last point of discussion from the book is the amount of money spent on leadership training. Camacho recounts seeing Jack Welch from G.E. arrive in a helicopter at a corporate training event.[4] At that moment, Camacho’s heart cried out because of the lack of investment in Christian leaders’ development versus the secular arena.[5] The disparity in investment in leadership between the Church and the corporate environment piqued my curiosity. So, I dug further. The first was a quick search for how much corporations spend on leadership development. According to a Forbes magazine article, in 2019, leadership development is estimated to be a $366 billion industry.[6] The real irony is that the report also says that in terms of R.O.I., the development programs/training/coaching could have been more successful.[7] The article documented reasons for the poor return on investments. However, I will only mention that the number one reason was “context conquers content.”[8]  The training should not be one size fits all. To compare this finding to what corporations spent, I did check out what the Barna Research group might have on the topic. Unfortunately, I did not find an exact match, but I did find two very striking things. A study conducted in 2020 to assess the state of mind of pastors across the Church uncovered that 23% of those surveyed felt they lacked leadership training and development.[9] Additionally, seven in ten U.S. pastors studied “agree it is becoming harder to find mature young Christians who want to become pastors.”[10] However, the most striking issue from the report is that 72% of pastors are concerned about “watered-down gospel teaching.”[11]

In conclusion, this topic focused on Christian leadership coaching. My additional research helped uncover the urgent necessity for investing in Christian leadership coaching and a call to more Spirit-led training for young pastors and leaders in our Churches. And to address the issue regarding the watered-down gospel – perhaps we heed Camacho’s lesson. All Christian leadership coaching should start with God.[12]

[1] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching, (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 4.

[2] Ibid., 4.

[3] Ibid., 158-159.

[4] Ibid., 165.

[5] Ibid., 165.

[6] Chris Westfall, Leadership Development Is A $366 Billion Industry: Here’s Why Most Programs Don’t Work, 2019:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/chriswestfall/2019/06/20/leadership-development-why-most-programs-dont-work/?sh=7097869061de

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Barna:  State of the Church, What’s on the Minds of America’s Pastors, Feb. 3, 2020: https://www.barna.com/research/only-half-of-protestant-pastors-have-a-biblical-worldview/

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching, (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 36.

About the Author

Audrey Robinson

11 responses to “Start with God”

  1. Kristy Newport says:

    wow! Thank you for doing further research:
    “According to a Forbes magazine article, in 2019, leadership development is estimated to be a $366 billion industry”
    I have a lot to say about a poor return on investment after providing so much leadership development.
    I am curious if you have some thoughts on this?
    I am praying that my leadership development in gaining a Dld. will have a lot of ROI! God knows what’s next!

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      Thanks for the comments, thoughts and questions.

      I am not surprised that the ROI on the leadership development in corporate is not satisfactory. The article made the point about “one-size fits all” and that is not how God has made us.

      As a Christian coach that is spirit-led, I believe will be successful and have a high rate of return!

  2. Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

    Audrey, Thank you so much for your blog post! I appreciated the richness of your thoughts and the way you included insights from our past readings, as well as did your own new research on this subject. That is fascinating to learn that leadership development is estimated to be a $366 industry! What are some of your thoughts on how the Church can increase investments in strong and healthy leadership?

    I especially like this quote from your second highlighted insight on the Spirit-led coaching process: “To see the good in people, the gold, what better lens than the eyes of God?” I find that inspiring!

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      excellent question. In some ways I think the Church is making the same mistake that corporate is making – trying to make one size fit everyone.

      As radical as this might seem but just like our public schools are failing our children – many seminaries are failing our tomorrow leaders. I say this because another striking statistic from another Barna Study was that only 13% of teaching pastors have a biblical worldview. This is concerning.

  3. Tonette Kellett says:


    I am impressed with the further research you have done on this topic. Wow! All the money that is spent in this industry is mind-boggling. Some of it seems a waste, in my opinion, because of the quality of life coaches that are available. Not all are turning to the Lord for their leadership. Fascinating post, as always!

  4. Michael O'Neill says:

    Great post, Audrey! “Barna Study was that only 13% of teaching pastors have a biblical worldview.” I read this in one of your comments after already being blown away by the size of the leadership market. No wonder there is a Christ-centered leadership bankruptcy. We’re not spending enough, were not coaching enough, we’re not mining for gold like we should. Have you considered coaching? With all of the experience you have, I think you would be fantastic.

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      I was somewhat shocked when I saw the numbers but then when I stepped back and looked at the leadership void etc., I can see how the issues are connected.

      Also, thank you so much for the words of encouragement about coaching. That was a ‘word’ from God. I am actually a certified Christian life coach. I put too many things on hold when we made this move to PA. Over the break, I was led to get back into coaching. So I’ve been updating my credentials, revamping my ‘go to’ messages and developing a new website. Stay tuned. And I’d appreciate your prayers when you are led!

  5. mm Shonell Dillon says:

    The watered down gospel is a result of not seeking what God says. When mining for goal if you are using the true principles of God the goal will be met. How has this book inspired you do be a miner?

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      I first learned this concept back in early 2000. Over the years I’ve tried to develop the mindset to do just that – to mine.

      This book brought back those early lessons and reinforced how important it is to mine for gold.

  6. Alana Hayes says:

    “My additional research helped uncover the urgent necessity for investing in Christian leadership coaching and a call to more Spirit-led training for young pastors and leaders in our Churches.”

    I think you are spot on here….

    If you could think of one place to start with coaching connected to Christian Leadership and Spirit led training where would you start?

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      Good question. Based on some work I did years ago with discovering motivational or personality gifts – one can begin to identify God-given gifts early in children. However, I would teach parents how to identify (so they can train their children how to lean into those gifts). And then the full gifting, and leadership principles, when they reach adolescents and teens. Why? Because it would provide a baseline for establishing their God-given identity while they are young so that they would not have to stray.

      The Bible passage speaks to train up a child while they are young.

      In terms of Church leadership, anyone who is in a position to serve or provide ministry to others should receive coaching.

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