DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Mining for Gold: A forty-niner’s perspective

Written by: on June 23, 2019

Learning about the Gold Rush of 1848 and 1849 is a part of most California education. In 4th grade is when I learned all about California history, from the missions to the pioneers who came panning for gold. In my school, our section on the Gold rush culminated in Gold Rush Day, where our parents put together our best mining outfits, we brought our pie pans to school, and our outdoor field was littered with pyrite (or fool’s gold). We had different stations where we could participate in different aspects of forty-niner life. We could find our claims and mark them, jump each others claims, pan for gold and use long toms to find larger groups, and help build a sluice all around the school yard for the water to travel into. If you didn’t grow up in California or done extensive research on the Gold Rush, those terms probably mean nothing to you, but just know that iIt really made the Gold Rush come alive for this 4th grader.


In the same gold vein, Tom Camacho’s book Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching really helped me understand what’s so majestic about coaching. Coaching, as is mining for gold, is hard work on a moving target, but Camacho gives such practical advice on how to do this work. He starts by giving four key concepts of Coaching, which spell the acrostic of GOLD to help us remember: Gold is everywhere; Open your eyes to see it; Learn the skills to draw it out; Develop others continuously.[1]


 “Much of the leadership models of the past have placed the responsibility for development in the hands of the mentor of coach. In coaching leadership, we don’t bear the weight of someone’s growth. We simply draw out what’s inside of them. We don’t own their outcomes or manage their behavior. We empower them. We give them permission to be themselves and use their gifts.”[2]


This is an incredibly helpful reminder. In the same way that the forty-niners didn’t put the gold in California in the first place, it’s not our job to put things into others that aren’t there. Our job is to do the good, but hard work, of digging. Digging for gold takes patience but continued work, and sometimes miners might only find one small piece of gold in their life. However, when it’s done well, one small piece yields many more pieces of gold in the end.


Gold miners are experts at knowing what tools are needed to do the right job. In the work of coaching, we need to know what resources are available to use to dig in ways that are getting to the core of each issue, while not doing more harm than good. I appreciated Camacho’s questions at the end of each chapter, reminding us again, that our job is to provide the safe space for empowerment – not dependency. Overall, I really appreciated this work and I am excited to hear what gold nuggets Camacho might have to share with us.


[1] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching. (Advance Copy), pg.5-6.

[2] Ibid., 23.

About the Author


Karen Rouggly

Karen Rouggly is the Director for Mobilization in the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific University. She develops transformational experiences for students serving locally, nationally, and internationally. She completed an MA in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about community development, transformational service and helping students understand vocation and service. Karen is also an active member at the Vineyard Church Glendora where she is a small group leader and serves on the teaching team. She is also a mom to two sweet boys, wife to an amazing guy, and loves being a friend to many.

5 responses to “Mining for Gold: A forty-niner’s perspective”

  1. mm Mary Mims says:

    Karen, I love that you took the concept of mining for gold a bit further into the reality of the actual process. It does take hard work and sometimes you strike out. I think it is good to keep in mind that coaching takes work on both parties to have a successful outcome.

  2. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Great connection, Karen. You reminded me of fourth grade studying the California Gold Rush and the experience of panning for gold. The right tools, patience and focus are required for gold mining literally as well as in people. Gifted coaches make a significant different in transformation when they are well equipped and gifted for it. We can all learn it, but some are just gifted at it.

  3. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I appreciated your sharing from your practical fourth-grade learning experiences! Really excellent, how you tied in the reality of your learning experience with Camacho’s material. You stated, “I appreciated Camacho’s questions at the end of each chapter, reminding us again, that our job is to provide the safe space for empowerment – not dependency.” The safe space for empowerment – not dependency, what a helpful and powerful explanation of coaching. Thanks so much and see you in London!

  4. mm Shermika Harvey says:

    Karen, great post! Interweaving the history of the California forty-niners in with the book was allowed the reader to commit to reading more. Not only was the post inviting but it highlighted a couple of gold nuggets that will benefit others while coaching leadership. One in particular that stood out to me is “Gold miners are experts at knowing what tools are needed to do the right job. “ Camacho, mentions that God has placed the gold inside of everyone and we are helping Him in the process. We are the Spirit lead gold seekers and processors; He is the refiner.

  5. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Karen, for sharing the Gold rush experience in Califonia. It also reminded me of the gold mining in my community and Tom’s connection of gold mining and coaching in ministry is superb. It is truly hard to mine gold and as much it said that gold is everywhere, it is hard to find gold easily. But the approach Tom Camacho has connected gold to leadership development is in a unique way of doing leadership combined with coaching. I feel I need coaching now to enhance my leadership.

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