Posted by: Justin Wallace | December 14, 2009

Appreciation & Motivation || Getting the Ball Rolling :: Shaping leaders for the long haul

Nathan Evans is the Staff Leader of Impact Charlotte. He spends his time motivating interns and student leaders to live out their God given gifts with passion. He enjoys doing a little bit of everything. He’s a great cook, a mad XBOX player, a great money manager, a bad runner and has a sweet jeep (oh and a cool wife with a little boy on the way).

Four years ago I came to Charlotte with my wife of 3 months, Emily, to minister to College Students.  Like most, I knew little about the practice – the art – of ministry.  I spent years with my nose in books and sitting in classes learning about the theories, but my field experience was limited to a 4 month internship and 3 years of lay leadership.

Two years later, our ministry – and in turn our staffing needs – grew and our Board of Directors decided I would be a good fit to take over a newly formed role within the ministry called “Staff Leader”.  I knew little of what this meant other than I was good at two things: organization and getting along with people.

Today I find myself considerably more comfortable in my role than I thought I would ever be.  My passion has become the development of young leaders through a discipleship relationship. Through dozens of these relationships I have learned several lessons that are serving me well.  There are 4 in particular that I keep coming back to, and that I want to share.

:: Leaders Lead ::
Leaders will lead regardless of their position or spiritual depth

This seems obvious, but when you see it in practice you begin to understand the complexity of the leadership development process.  Those with leadership gifting will draw people to themselves, and will begin to develop their character.  Very quickly the question becomes: “Where are they leading from?”  All of us have a source for our leadership…Is it God?  Approval?  Popularity?  Arrogance?  We must be pouring heavily into our students who are natural leaders – whether we have placed them in a position of leadership or not – because we will soon find them leading within their circle of influence.

:: Build Unique Relationships ::
Every relationship is different

We have 150 students in our community.  I am supposed to know 150 students ranging from 17 – 27 years of age by name, major, interests, relationship status and whether they are a Duke or Chapel Hill fan.  That is a lot to keep track of!  I have learned that to have a meaningful relationship with each of them I must have a unique connection with them. I have become interested in things I never would have dreamed, just for the sake of forming a memorable connection with our students.

:: Believe in Depth ::
Consistently paint a picture of the potential we see in our leaders…whether they can see it or not!

There are many reasons why our leaders don’t believe that they are created for greatness.  Undoubtedly we have all heard our share of family horror stories, or tales of dysfunctional churches.  This should never sway us from loudly and unabashedly telling our leaders what amazing things they can achieve with God. To underscore this point Justin Wallace – our Teaching Pastor – spent a full month teaching on John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

:: Take it to the Source ::
Mediate conflict to help both sides better understand their own concerns, but demand they work the problem out with each other.

For my first year I tried to stand in the gap of every conflict within the leadership of the ministry.  I went beyond mediation and tried to work out the conflict for them. As you can imagine, this very quickly led to a season of burnout.  I came to understand that not only will conflict always exist this side of eternity, but it is a normal and healthy means of growing closer.  I was actually handicapping the people I was leading by not letting them work through their conflict together. My role is to help clarify the reasons for the conflict so that when the time comes, the two (or three, or four…) leaders can effectively discuss what is at the heart of their disagreement.  

As our ministries grow and mature over time, it is equally important that we as leaders are making every effort to grow and develop as well.  The 4 lessons I just highlighted all focus around one key principle: DiscipleshipDiligently grooming our leaders today will bear fruit for our ministry tomorrow. We must approach this process of discipleship with confidence that God is not just working in them, but that he has lessons to teach us as well through these relationships.

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Responses

  1. You make an excellent point about mediating conflict. This is the area I have the most struggle with. I’ve never really looked at this as a source of burn out, but it makes sense. It’s exhausting to try and fix issues of conflict between two people.
    To your point on Building Unique Relationships:
    Outside of social media like Facebook and twitter, I’m not sure how one can form a unique relationship with so many people. Maybe a connection, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on one’s self. Maybe you could give an example.
    Great post!

  2. Burnout was a pretty extreme result, but it was a result of a series of pretty extreme circumstances, and the immaturity of trying to take the responsibility of ‘solving’ the issues onto myself!

    If I had the room I would have explained further what I meant by ‘unique’ relationships. My goal is to have something to talk to every student about that not only makes them memorable for me, but also shows them that I am interested in them as an individual. Everyone gets asked about their classes. Or major. Or hometown. But if I follow up with a student to ask how their favorite soccer team is doing, or if how their crops are growing on Farmville…well that shows them I listened and value them as a person, not a number.

    I strive for a unique connection with each student, and let the unique relationships grow from there with as many as possible. It’s not easy, and I by no means know all of our students on this level, but it is my goal.

  3. Nathan, fantastic thoughts bro. I particularly take away the challenge to pour into natural leaders whether they have a position or not.

    I often convince myself I’m so busy that I really pour into the students who are on our leadership team and not so much the ones we hope to BE on the leadership team soon.

    Great challenge!


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