This time last year I was starting my application process to the Protege Program at National Community Church. I knew that I needed to enter a season where I could step back from a leadership role and enter into a season of very intentional growth- spiritually, personally, and theologically. The Protege Program is a year long internship that equips young leaders for full-time ministry. It's not just about developing skills, it's about developing character. Here are some things I've learned and experienced this year...
Character is a precursor to calling. Choose integrity. Choose humility. Choose honor. Before I'm ready to step into the calling that God has for my life, I need to have the character to sustain it. I never want my influence to reach farther than my character can handle.
Protege has offered a safe place for me to grow. I've had permission to ask lots of questions and these questions have forced me into the presence of God. Some blind-spots have been revealed and nurtured. I've wrestled with theological issues. But more than anything, I've been encouraged to walk away worshipping God more deeply and loving Him more passionately.
I've learned about the character and ways of God. I desire so much more to seek out His heart instead of constantly wanting His hand. I realized that the more I get into His presence, the more I learn about His character.
I've been affirmed in my gifts and even been given opportunities to exercise them. Some things I've been able to do include... write our first New Testament Survey curriculum, produce our annual Leadership Retreat, assist with sermon prep for weekend messages, teach at Leadership Summit, help design and publish our small group directory, administer Alpha course, redesign and organize Easter baptism service, produce Good Friday services, preach at Uprising (our student ministry), and tons of other things that have helped me grow both as a leader and follower of Christ.
It has been incredible to be a part of such an amazing team that is FOR each other. It has been so much fun doing life and ministry with the NCC staff. They are incredibly gifted and passionate about their specific callings but so generous to serve the callings of the people around them. DOn't get me wrong, we have personality conflicts, but there is such a deep culture of honor among our staff that goes so much further than personality. I love our team!
In our protege huddles (led by Heather Zempel or Mark Batterson), we have talked about how to be mentored, leadership rhythms, the importance of teams, values, leading yourself well, and establishing goals. This is a precious time that all 7 of us are together to process and grow as ministry leaders. I've loved getting to learn alongside of Ashleigh, Sunshine, Elissa, Aaron, Andy, and TJ.
I have been able to be a part of the ridiculousness that is happening at National Community Church. Seriously. Wow. God is moving in such a powerful way here. It's crazy to think about the favor that we have experienced in the last 8 months. I have learned so much just by watching the way Pastor Mark stewards the influence that has been given to both him and our church.
And... I've had A LOT of fun. I mean come on... just look at my pictures on Facebook. So. Much. Fun.
What an experience. I've grown through successes and failures. I've been stretched to the point of frustration. But it has all been worth it.
If you are interested in the Protege program, I would encourage you to check out more info and download an application here. Applications are due on May 25th, 2012 for the next Protege year (Sept 2012-August 2013).