Having just returned from the Pikes Peak region, Tom Camacho’s Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching caught my attention. Colorado has a rich history in gold mining – one which changed the trajectory of the U.S. territory turned state of Colorado. On one of our trips west, we had the opportunity to visit the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine in Cripple Creek. It was a fascinating journey under the earth (1000 feet down – roughly the equivalent of the Empire State Building’s height of 100 stories) learning about the history and operations of gold mining. The early years of gold mining were cut-throat – it was not an easy life for prospectors and their families – nor was it an organized process or one that was legislated by the government. It was truly the wild, wild west. When I reflect on the early days of gold prospecting I can easily make metaphorical comparisons of unhealthy churches functioning much like gold prospectors did in the 1800’s. Here are some little known facts about the gold rush:
- It was one of the largest migrations in American history
- In early 1848, only about 1,000 non-Native Americans lived in California. Less than two years later, there were 100,000. People came from all 31 states and at least 25 countries, especially China
- In this tremendous migration west the influx of so many white immigrants took a disastrous toll on the Native Americans(they were forced from their land and their resources were depleted – buffalo were killed, timber was cut and tribes were exposed to new human diseases)
- Because there were so few women who migrated for the gold rush, the approximate three percent who were living in the west were exploited and objectified for the entertainment of men
- There was a tremendous environmental impact from gold mining (dangerous chemicals, deforestation, exposure of buried rock to oxygen)
- There was no initial banking infrastructure, which led to corruption and abuse of power (it was merchants who became wealthy, not miners)
Why is the Christian Church essentially failing in today’s world (using the term “failing” generically to indicate the decrease in weekly church attendance, churches closing their doors, millennial’s attitudes about church, and the many denominations in conflict)? That’s a loaded and complex question, but could today’s church be intentionally or unintentionally oppressing vulnerable populations (much like the gold rush did) in order to get their “riches” in the form of bigger and modern buildings, coffee shops, modern/contemporary worship services, Hillsong Worship quality music, and more attendees? As all these efforts are funded and implemented who is left behind? I believe Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching is making a noble effort to address this question…
Tom Camacho’s writings on mining for gold are addressing gold mining as a positive activity, rather than the historical underpinnings of oppression towards women, Native Americans, and the environment, et al. It is an excellent guidebook on learning how to harness leadership potential (“gold”) to create healthy persons/churches, strong leaders, and have maximum kingdom impact. “The greatest treasure is found in people, not shiny yellow rocks. The people around us are treasures of unimaginable worth. In God’s eyes they are treasures of pure gold. When we cannot see through the eyes of the Spirit, we can’t see the value they carry. People just look like average, ordinary rocks.”
His [Camacho’s] recommendations for finding leadership strength within thyself as well as building it in others has a lot of theoretical similarity to motivational interviewing (use of the following questions: What are a couple things you could do to move you forward in this issue? What do you think would be the most helpful next step here? If you could only do one thing this coming week in this area, what would you do? Who can you get to help you in this process? What other resources would be helpful for you as you move forward? How will this action step make a difference for you? Who could you call or talk to that would be a great asset to you in this?); solution focused therapy (What would be your greatest passion in the area of your work/ministry? Do you feel like you are operating most of the time from your sweet spot? What makes the sweet spot so empowering and energizing?); strengths based theory (“empowerment” – be real, be patient, be an example, build a culture of grace); and the theory of margin (the “sweet spot” and The 80/20% Principle). Almost all the content Camacho writes about is included in curriculum used to train the burgeoning social worker. So even though Camacho doesn’t refer to the social theories I connect to, Camacho’s writings are grounded in quality, evidence based material.
As this is my blog “finale” – let me leave you with this impactful final thought from Brené Brown:
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share you most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.
True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.
 Tom Camacho. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching. Intervarsity Press, 2019. Pg. 19.
 Camacho. Mining for Gold.
 Brene Brown, Netflix, Call to Courage. 2019.