A Vocabulary Lesson

So, I’m a bit of a nerd. Awhile back I signed up to receive Merriam Webster’s Dictionary vocabulary words by email every day, just to grow myself in that area. Sometimes the word is interesting but one that I will likely never use, like semelparous. Other times, the vocabulary word of the day hits a nerve in me. I have come to know that feeling as God speaking, and so I sit and ask Him what in the world He would want to teach me about vocabulary.

gold barsThat’s what happened a few weeks ago when the word Auriferous showed up in my inbox. Pronounced “aw-RIF-uh-russ,” the normally long definition included only two words:

Containing gold.

Hmmm. Interesting. It comes from the Latin word aurum, which is why the elemental sign for gold is Au on the periodic table. Okay, this is all very…oooooohhhhhhh. There it is.

As a leader, this is how I am to see everyone I come in contact with in my life…

Containing gold.

Hey, I live in the mountains of Colorado—practically every other city is named after whatever element they have mined there: Leadville, Silverton, Copper Mountain, etc. But somehow I hadn’t given much thought to how much work it takes to actually mine out an element, to dig deep into the recesses of a mountain where something is hidden away, and bring it to light for its useful purpose.


Many times the biblical writers discuss gold, but it is probably in Job 28 that I see the most extensive treatment of what mining it actually looks like. It looks hard. Job is comparing mining gold and silver to mining wisdom, which is a beautifully poetic picture. But in my heart, as I sat staring at this email, God was comparing mining gold and silver to digging into the recesses of someone’s heart. I pictured me, doing the hard work of digging…digging past the failures, the doubts, the shining successes and trust in all the wrong places, to find it—yes, there it is! Potential. The image of God, but in the exact unique form that He has chosen to put it into this other human, worthy of my respect and investment, because and only because he or she is His child.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “I don’t want to go find my gold, and I certainly don’t want to mine it out! I’d like for mine to come already neatly packaged, like those lovely gold bars, with a ton of experience catalogued impressively in an appropriately-professional resume.” If that is the case, my friend, then perhaps leadership is not for you.

If we as leaders will patiently do the hard work of mining out the potential in others, we will eventually bring it to light for its useful purpose.

So here is our vocabulary lesson for the day. Every person in our lives is auriferous: containing gold. We just have to find it.

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