Tom Camacho’s Mining for Gold is a God centered leadership book that focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit as a Christian leader’s personal coach. His GOLD acronym stands for Gold is everywhere, Open your eyes to see it, Learn the skills to draw it out, and Develop others continuously. I know I am going to find useful connections for my dissertation research on spiritual warfare because Camacho calls out the “real enemy” by page 9 of his book! Praise the Lord. I agree with Tom Camacho who says the real enemy is “the devil” who will do anything and everything that he and his host of demonic beings can do to steal, strip, subvert, and sabotage Christ-filled leaders. I like his “look for the gold, the Christ image” analogy and can see relationships to the Apostle Paul’s metaphorical use of the Roman armor to spiritually represent wearing Christ as a personal defense system against evil. This post uses a combination of Linda Elder’s “critical thinking concepts and tools”  alongside Pierre Bayard’s “librarian” orientation with books and ideas.
First, keeping Bayard’s birds-eye-view helped me see Camacho’s biography that he had military aviation in his background and I immediately searched for those personal stories and reflections that could show me where he and his ideas might have originated. With my life experiences in public safety and military aviation I can often read between the lines of an author’s narrative and determine if their life experiences will contribute to and add value to mine. Camacho got one demerit right off when I read how he picked ROTC for his officer commissioning and the Army to fulfill his aviation dreams of flying helicopters. Air Force “jet jockeys” lovingly refer to Army helicopter pilots as “rotor-heads.” The friendly name calling back and forth is all in good fun between competing armed service aviators. They are a unique group of men and women with an esprit-de-corps that motivates them to push against the heavenly boundaries, where angels fly, to serve and sacrifice for the safety of others.
I noticed that Camacho’s military career may have been cut short with the Army because his narrative abruptly moves from the thrill of accomplishing a life goal into somber sounding, “after my time in the Army, I was hired by” a company as a HR coordinator.
Second, aviation service in the military can be a tough life with a mixed assortment of organizational and personal crosses to carry. There are always losses in the aviation community in both peacetime and wartime. I experienced them, and I am sure Tom Camacho did too. As I read his 1991 training incident where he experienced, what we call in aviation, temporary spatial disorientation, I knew that he was a for real rotary-wing pilot who had a Guardian Angel (GA) experience. While he did not claim it in his book, I know he had one because that is just how GA’s operate, just beyond normal human perceptions. God’s GA’s were there with Camacho just inside the fog bank that he flew into and lost all his pilot visual and instrument references. The GA’s helped him regain just enough sensory orientation to fly out of it safely. GA’s were there when his flight observer McCoy grabbed his right arm to warn him just before driving the helicopter into rising terrain and becoming another casualty of CFIT (controlled flight into terrain). You might ask, how could you possibly know any of that? I know because I have experienced similar life ending aviation situations where, but for the grace of God’s GA intervention, I would be present with the Lord. He is right, focusing on the Holy Spirit, as your life navigation panel, is key to survival.
I searched for any biographies I could find on Camacho to see “what happened” to the young and aspiring officer who successfully achieved his college dream, completed ROTC, became a commissioned officer in the US Army, attended a rigorous flight school, and earned his wings as an Army flight officer and rotary wing pilot. I did not find any.
Did his close encounter and GA rescue somehow contribute to his transition and call to civilian life and ministry? Was there something else that happened? Why did he leave one of the best jobs in the world, flying complex gravity defying aviation machines into the heavenlies to fight evil and stop social injustice? Wow! That sounds cool for sure, and God definingly knows how cool it is and gives Christian aviators a special glimpse into His glory and great creation from the sky.
Third, I support his 6-Princiles of Thriving leadership. Camacho’s number one principle is the divine triune One, the Holy Spirit, who lives inside Christians, both physically and spiritually, that does all the work. Amen! Practicing surrender and submission to the Holy Spirit is the real key to Christian leadership success, because it is only then that it is all about God and not about the leader. I tell people leadership hurts and it is supposed to. I see that Camacho agrees so much that he talks about pain and the redemptive value of pain 55 times in the book. Experiencing the cross, according to Camacho, is the best way we can share in Christ’s pain and participate in His reconciliation and redemption to God.
In summary, this book is a great testimony on how Camacho achieved his aviation dreams and military leadership goals that God used to shape him into the Christ honoring leadership coach, preacher, and author who helps co-create Holy Spirit led solutions with new and developing leaders. I am glad Dr. Jason Clark endorsed this book. I believe there is more in this book that I can dig into and add to my dissertation application chapter on surviving and overcoming the problem with spiritual warfare.