Tom Camacho’s book gives a beautiful overview of the gifts of coaching in the Kingdom of God and makes it is difficult to pick a direction to reflect upon. I would like to be coached by someone like Tom Camacho. Who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this?
- Deep Listening
- Asking Great Questions
- Cooperating with the Holy Spirit
- Determining the Right Next Steps
But I knew from the title Mining for Gold that I needed to do a bit of work on my own personal story and the use of “gold” as a metaphor in a ministry leadership context.
My youth pastor believed that God had told him when he landed in our city that God would give him “one golden nugget”. This extra-special student would be the instrument God would use to usher in a city-wide revival. My youth pastor did not need twenty or even ten golden nuggets; all he needed was one. He was extremely clear on this point.
At fourteen, he and I were both convinced that I was “the one”. This was mostly prestigious and amazing to begin with. It later became a burden I could no longer sustain and pressure I could not live up to.
I distinctly remember wondering whether I was “the golden nugget” before my senior year. I was not certain any longer. The fruit of my leadership and evangelizing had not been as vigorous as before. But I did have a growing awareness that I did not want Amy or anyone else to be “the one”. Because who, then, would I be? I affirmed to him again my calling and position to be the one student leader big enough to handle the pressure and expectations of my church community.
It is not surprising that I have a sensitivity to pressing and pushing the sheep. It is not shepherding. And I am sensitive to the dark side of transformational leadership where the success of the mission can subtlety become more important than the people. And I am sensitive to language that elevates certain gifts over others. We all want to feel special and unique. And truly we are each intrinsically unique. As leaders though, we must be careful to not manage or control people through superlatives. The “best”, the “one”, etc. are not necessarily off-limit words but ones we must be very careful with.
What I so appreciate about Tom’s approach is the emphasis on the universality of gold. “Gold is everywhere.” We both believe that it lies in every person, as opposed to the view that only few, rare people have a gold deposit. Some may take more excavation than others but what is important is the belief that it does inherently exist. Vineyard’s mantra that “all get to play” undergirds this belief and pushes against celebrity church culture.
A coach of mine has encouraged me to contemplate “our gloriously common calling” to serve and love God. This has helped me to not idolize uniqueness, to compete with others less and release the pressure to do something big for big’s sake.
In my twenties, I ran into several students that had heard my youth pastor preach the story of my high school life and they would say “oh you are the one! You were the golden nugget!” I usually struggled for words to respond in these situations but now I know what I would say. We are all golden nuggets. We are all needed and necessary in the body of Christ. I am, of course, different from you, but I am not more valuable in the Kingdom. We complement each other and understanding this is how the good work of the Kingdom continues to gain ground.
Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019), 1-3.
Dennis Tourish, The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective. (Hove: Routledge, 2013), 70.