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

Strawberries and Coaching

Written by: on January 18, 2024

Perched on the edge of the produce stand, the red caught my eye. As I picked it up, I could smell the berries through the packaging. Strawberries, one of my favorite fruits, are rarely seen in my city in North Africa. When they are available, the quality is questionable, and the price tag is extortionate. There is no comparison to the strawberries I picked as a child from fields in Pennsylvania. But, when contrasted to the limited variety we get, the cost is worth it now and then for a little bite of variety.

Living in the desert has helped me treasure things like half-ripe, overpriced strawberries. It is easy to see what is lacking around me; it is often harder to see what could be. I was eating some of those strawberries as I read the introduction to Tom Camacho’s Mining for Gold. His words surprised me a bit.  “We are not victims of a scarcity of leaders. We need to see leadership development from an abundance mentality [1].” In my country, leaders, at first glance, also appear to be as sparce as strawberries. According to Camacho, well-developed leaders are a rare find but the abundance is in the potential of future leaders. Perhaps in my own way, I too recognized this in my own life. This need was a big motivation for me in pursuing a doctorate of leadership—to personally be more equipped to help leaders develop leaders. This idea of leadership abundance intrigued me and framed how I continued to read and relate to the book.

Several years ago, I asked a question that changed the trajectory of my life: “How do I learn to ask good questions?”  The motivation behind it came from a genuine desire to encourage people to think deeper, particularly concerning their faith beliefs. The answer I was given was to take a coaching class. I did. From then on, I have been changing my thinking, developing my ability to listen and to ask good questions, and to develop a style of leadership that helps to empower and lead others. Many of the life lessons that I have been learning on my coaching journey are articulated in Mining for Gold. These concepts were not new for me, but it did give me opportunity to reevaluate areas to improve as move forward as a coach. Camacho, like the excellent coach I suspect he is, modeled some of the coaching process in his writing and style. At the end of every chapter, he provides his reader with questions for thought and action steps suggestions.

An area where I need to continue to grow is learning what Camacho calls “partner with the Holy Spirit.” [2] Coaching has given me practical ways to live that out in life. In conversations, I will often have a question that comes to mind that seems to be quite random or perhaps a little risky. On these types of questions, I almost always hesitate. Without fail, when I am courageous enough to ask that question, it is usually exactly what the person needed to hear. It is that “ah-ha” moment.  As I have learned to trust the Spirit’s guidance, this partnership with him truly does become natural and organic, or as Camacho writes, “like sailing.”

What is next? Like all good coaching conversations, the book ended with an invitation to move forward and more potential action steps. When I reviewed the year 2023, there was a particular pattern in my life where I felt most fulfilled and fruitful, Camacho would call my “sweet spot.” That was when I was walking alongside of others, encouraging them to be who God designed them to be, using the coaching skills God has been developing in my life. Mining for Gold has been another nudge God is using to show me the joy that comes from being a coaching leader. I have taken coaching classes, I have worked with coaching clients, I try to ask empowering and Spirit-led questions, and I would say I am passionate about coaching. Until this point, I have not actively embraced a definite course towards a professional coaching certification. I have been encouraged to do multiple times over the past few weeks. In Mining for Gold the closing comments were as if God was directly addressing me through the author: “If you find yourself passionate about coaching, attend coach training and pursue a certification as a professional coach [3].” I believe this invitation is part of God’s journey for me. Like buying strawberries in the Sahara, this feels risky and God-led risk comes abundance of reward.

My action steps from Mining from Gold: count my current coaching hours towards a certification, reach out to my coaching mentor, and arrange for a coaching session myself.

What is God inviting you to do?

[1] Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching (London: IVP, 2019. Kindle Edition), 15.

[2] Ibid., 102.

[3] Ibid., 184.

About the Author



Kari is a passionate follower of Jesus. Her journey with Him currently has her living in the Sahara in North Africa. With over a decade of experience as a family nurse practitioner and living cross-culturally, she enjoys being a champion for others. She combines her cross-cultural experience, her health care profession, and her skills in coaching to encourage holistic health and growth. She desires to see each person she encounters walk in fullness of joy, fulfilling their God-designed purpose. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 ESV

23 responses to “Strawberries and Coaching”

  1. Graham English says:

    I think it’s important that you have already started to develop a mindset for coaching. It’s a great foundation. I usually think of coaching as a mindset, a skillset and a process. You have obviously developed a mindset of curiosity and are honing the skill of asking powerful questions. That’s an amazing gift to the people you work with. I wonder if you have come across a process that you have found helpful as you coach people? I’m not a certified life coach but have been certified as an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator (coaching organizations and groups) and find the process does the heavy lifting.
    Excited to see what unfolds as you pursue this passion.

  2. Daren Jaime says:

    Hi Kari! I think it is great you are already on the path towards coaching. It is much needed during this time. I really appreciate your transparency in your quest to partner with the Holy Spirit. Sadly many are superficial in this or act as though it is a constant in their daily walk when it actuality it is far from true. As you trust the Spirit’s guidance you ultimately are partnering yourself towards success. Keep pressing!

  3. Debbie Owen says:

    Kari, I think you identified one of the keys to good coaching: an abundance mindset. So many people live with a scarcity mindset! (I have to catch myself all the time too.) I’ve thought about this recently. It seems to come from our desire to “own” things. Think of Israel and the constant battles over land. Think of the US history and the battle over “property” (enslaved people). Think of all the people who fall for “get rich quick” schemes. It all comes down to “What’s mine is mine and I want yours before you can get it!”

    As you think about your own journey as a coaches (not a coach), have you noticed a scarcity mindset in certain aspects of your life? How do you then partner with Holy Spirit to remember “The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need…”?

    (Note: I definitely struggle with maintaining an abundance mindset. It just helps when you’re at least aware of it.)

    • mm Kari says:

      Debbie, I appreciate your insight into the scarcity mindset. My own scarcity mindset tends to be apparent when certain comforts of my life are taken away— internet and/or electrical outages, running out of good coffee, car issues. In those moments I tend to try to find my own solutions before committing it to the Lord. In the moments where I identify (or admit) that I am leaning towards a scarcity mentality and on my own strength, the Holy Spirit is simultaneously reminding me of His promises to provide my needs. Once I’m willing to admit and repent of this, the Lord always gives me peace and often an unexpected solution (or resolution) in that moment.

  4. Jeff Styer says:

    Kari, My Amish neighbor the other day was blowing straw onto his 23,000 strawberry plants to protect them from the Northeast Ohio winter weather. He just planted them back in July, because last year he only had 7,000 plants and quickly ran out of strawberries. This year he hopes to have an abundance of strawberries, but that is also dependent on several factors. Some of those factors he cannot control, will there be a late freeze, will the temperatures be warm enough to promote ripening. Others he can control, like protecting the crops from weather and insects. It sounds like you are a “strawberry” coach waiting to finish ripening. The conditions have been perfect for you to develop coaching skills, you’ve taken classes, you’ve taken on clients, and you fill like its your sweet spot when you coach people. Sounds like you might be in a good position to finish ripening and being a treasured strawberry in the desert. I hope that as you take your action steps you will find God directing your each step.

    • mm Kari says:

      Jeff, I appreciate your twist on the strawberry analogy and your encouragement. I can picture those Amish fields. If this spring yields an abundant strawberry harvest, please eat a few of those for me!

  5. Akwése Nkemontoh says:

    Kari, this resonates on SOOOO many levels! First off I giggled at the strawberries because when I first arrived in the UK and saw that grapes were roughly 2 pounds and raspberries a couple more I went crazy and had them just about every day, knowing that out here they are over $10 😭

    Regarding your journey with coaching, I too am at a place where I’m asking God to help me bring it back to Him. My coaching journey began as something that was very Spirit-led but as I grew in the “business” of it all, slowly and unconsciously it became more about the skill/ practice/ bottom line and less about the Spirit.

    While I still LOVE coaching and think it’s a fabulous tool for supporting transformation I’m now finding myself gravitating towards spiritual mentorship as well as blended faith-based coaching.

    I’m curious how you think about and distinguish coaching, from mentorship, from some of the blended models? Ultimately the Spirit is in it all and so regardless of the route, there’s still so many ways to intentionally invite Spirit in ❤️

    • mm Kari says:

      Akwése, now I know who was responsible for Tesco in Oxford running out of raspberries! 😉 Your awareness of your mindset shift from Spirit-led to “all business” is evident of the Spirit’s prompting in your life. One of the biggest reasons I have not (yet) gone further in coaching revolved around the business aspect. I was afraid of losing the “coach the person not the problem” perspective.

      How I see coaching versus mentoring: pure coaching would involve asking good questions, reflective listening, and helping the person being coached gain insight to move forward. Mentoring seems to have more room for advice-giving in the present with some overlap with coaching (helping to moving forward) and counseling (look back and inward). I would be interested in hearing your discoveries on this as well.

  6. Chad Warren says:

    Kari, great connection between scarcity of strawberries and the seeming scarcity of leaders in your context. In the same way you are willing to accept partially ripe overpriced strawberries, do you see organizations settling when it comes to leadership or is there mostly a leadership vacuum? Evenutally you hope to be equipped with a doctor of leadership and coaching certification; how do these help you practically address the leadership needs in your context?

    • mm Kari says:

      Chad, I would say organizations are settling when it comes to leadership: warm bodies fill spots. In my context, it is often organizations using trusted people who do not necessarily have the skill set or gifts needed for that role to fill a role. Compliant followers are easier to give a title and direct, rather than grow leaders from coaching. Thank you for the great question. In a materialistic way, having degrees and certificates increase one’s voice in a way skills and gifting do not. I jotted down these questions concerning leaders in my context while I was reading the book: Are they equipped to develop leaders? Do they know how? What do they need to be successful in this call of duty?

      I am praying through these questions and what practical application may look like in the future. I suspect my doctoral project will be a part of this solution. In the meantime, I am taking all opportunities given to me to encourage investing in others and developing leaders. My current thoughts which I am holding very loosely: a coaching training program for my context, easy-to-follow class/guide/workshop on leadership development (especially for an aural/limited literacy culture, limited resource area), and mentoring and coaching leaders.

  7. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Kari, thanks for your post! I am intrigued with this quote from your post and have a few questions!

    “In my country, leaders, at first glance, also appear to be as sparce as strawberries. According to Camacho, well-developed leaders are a rare find but the abundance is in the potential of future leaders.”

    Where do you see the leadership gaps in your country? Have you been able to identify any tipping points, at which, if addressed, could change the trajectory of a future leader?

    • mm Kari says:

      Hi Christy,

      I think the biggest gaps in leadership here revolve around lack of trust and perception of hopelessness. There is a deep culture of hierarchical leadership, recent history of slavery, and the majority religion encourages compliance not questioning.

      In my own personal experience, the main tipping point is when I (the leader/boss) let go of control and pride. Practically, I saw amazing growth in my staff when I entrusted them with decision-making that did not require my approval. As they felt empowered, they exhibited more hope and joy, trust grew. Out of that leaders emerged. From a personal level, it takes us stepping out and taking risks. It was and is scary to let go, but the rewards are great and then can go beyond me.

  8. mm Jennifer Eckert says:

    Hi Kari, what a fun blog! Visualizing strawberries in the desert was a nice contrast and you did great capturing footnotes, something I did not do so well in this time. You asked what God is inviting me to do. There are a couple of things. 1) Trust him. With school, work, church, and family responsibilities, it’s easy to work myself into anxiety. 2) Work with someone to frame my own personal story. In my career, I tell other people’s stories often, but I struggle to tell my own. Please keep us posted on your coaching journey.

    • mm Kari says:

      Jennifer, I love that you answered the question! Having heard some of your story, I am thrilled that you want to share it more.

      Who may help you in framing it?

  9. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Kari, thanks for the briliant blog. Now we know what to buy you the next time we see you – ripe, red, juicy strawberries. I would just like to encourage you with what is the Holy Spirit nudge in your life towards pursuing coaching. In your blog you have identified, there is a sweet spot for you, and also that you keep feeling prompted to pursue the idea of coaching. You will be brilliant coach. Your expertise in your professional field, and your personality, alongside what would appear to be the grace of God upon your life, certainly dovetails to create a potentially potent cocktail of effective and brilliant coaching. I wonder if there is an opportunity for you to begin to develop a coaching course as a “side hustle?” If the Holy Spirit is genuinely nudging you in this direction, you may be surprised what doors open for you, and how effective you become in this area. We would all cheer you on.

    • mm Kari says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, Glyn. I, too, am wondering if developing a coaching course or something similar for my context may be either a side hustle or perhaps a doctoral project 😊 . Perhaps our future projects may overlap more than originally expected!

  10. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hi Kari!
    First, I loved your strawbeerry analogy. It was a perfect into to your post, and made me pause. Thank you! Second, I also appreciated your desire and answer to your question: “The motivation behind it came from a genuine desire to encourage people to think deeper, particularly concerning their faith beliefs.” How are you finding this is working in your journey? When I was in college (raised strict Catholic) I was questioning the bible. My sweet mom told me, it was not for us to understand, we need to have the priest teach us what it means”. That bothered me to the core.
    I think the high majority of Christ followers almost feel the same way. We can learn about things on Sunday at church, then life just goes on until next Sunday. Are you finding success in reaching people? I pray that you, and for that matter, all of us can learn from your question.

    • mm Kari says:

      Chris, it is fascinating to hear your experience with questioning the Bible and your mom’s response. My host culture is Islamic and their responses would be identical. The religion has a core in not questioning the teachings or the teachers. I believe the enemy has used complacency to prevent people in all walks of life and faith beliefs from finding Truth.

      Success is hard to measure as it involves an internal change in perspective. I do believe that when we are faithful at planting seeds of faith (or questions that cause doubt against a false belief), God can and will use that to bring about fruit.

  11. Julie O'Hara says:

    Hi Kari,
    Thanks for highlighting the abundance mindset and how that applies to leadership development. I think I lost track of that thinking of the preciousness of ‘gold’ and may have leaned a bit towards scarcity. I am trying to imagine myself in the spaces I inhabit looking around as though there are leaders all around it me – it feels exciting. Even more exciting is the idea that Holy Spirit invites into partnership to bring it all to light. I hope you will keep us posted when you ask risky questions!

  12. Elysse Burns says:

    Kari, I can completely understand the riskiness in buying overpriced strawberries in the Sahara.

    I enjoyed your thoughts on the abundance mentality. Whether or not we are in the Western world or an unknown African country, the scarcity and victim mentality can easily prevail in our thinking. Recently, I have felt the Lord reminding me to stop asking for more of this or more of that, but to keep my eyes open to the things He has already fully given. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God (1 Cor. 3:21b-22 [NIV]).”

    Like the many comments that preceded mine, I too would like to encourage you to pursue professional coaching certification. Your abundance mentality and partnership with the Holy Spirit make you a perfect candidate for this next step.

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