Sordid scandals of leaders who abuse their power saturate the news these days. Some use power to manipulate, take advantage of, or abuse people they are responsible to care for; some even use it to criminal ends. Money, sex, and power all entice, and leaders who hunger for these can sabotage their souls, organizations, and even countries. Salacious misdeeds are not the only danger, though: leadership is often isolating and treacherous in much more subtle and ordinary ways as well. Leadership transitions are often particularly difficult—those involved seem extra prone to missteps and damaging relationships, and the tenor can quickly become hostile, either visibly or beneath the surface.
I am deeply grateful to God that the story of CEM has been so remarkably different. The accompanying photo represents 38 years of Ranch directorship and several leadership transitions. It also represents five friends from five different decades.
When I came to CEM as an intern, I fell in love with the deep and intense ministry to the students and with the tightly-bonded intern team. What made me eager to stay long term, though, was the humility of CEM’s leaders. I wanted to learn from them. I joined the staff team to work under Mark Andrews, and I’ve learned much from him about administration in a ministry context. Not long after I arrived, I asked Jim Parker if he would be willing to sit down some time to share wisdom he’d learned. This one-time request turned into years of wonderful weekly meetings. Recently I’ve enjoyed working closely under Chuck Boatman, absorbing from his lifelong ministry career. I still meet regularly with Mike Petrillo, whose character and joyful shepherd’s heart I hope to emulate. These four combined have close to 200 years of experience in ministry! The mentorship I’ve received from them is a gift I treasure.
Now I have the opportunity to try to follow in their footsteps. I have several sets of very large shoes to fill—clearly that isn’t possible! This fits with one of my core beliefs: I am not sufficient. I don’t mean that I’m not sufficient to do a particular job; I’m simply not sufficient. But Jesus is! The only way to lead successfully is to walk humbly as a servant of Jesus—allowing His sufficiency to cover our lack—and to encourage others to walk this path too. I’m confident that He’s called me to this role for this period of time, and that He’s been preparing me for years through the mentorship of my predecessors. These four men are humble, servant-hearted, sacrificial leaders, and they’ve built these values into the heritage of the Ranch. This is a beautiful thing, and unfortunately, it is rare in our world. Pray for me as I strive to follow them in this next chapter!
Nate first arrived in Grass Valley in 2006 to serve as a summer counselor at Wolf Mountain Christian Camps. While he was attending Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA, he spent his summers at Wolf Mountain. By his fourth summer, after graduating with a B.A. in Classical Liberal Arts, Nate was directing the summer program. In the fall, Nate was teaming up with High Sierra Outdoor Institute when he heard of the need for male interns at CEM. That spring, Nate served a 3-month internship. An earlier commitment to serve as the Program Director at Camp Del Oro in the summer pulled him away from CEM. In the fall of 2010, as Nate resumed work with High Sierra, CEM was starting up their Men’s Ministry House and Nate was invited to run it. Shortly after, Nate also joined CEM’s Internship department.
Last month, Nate assumed duties as Executive Director. Along the way, Nate married Alyssa, a former intern, and started his Master’s Degree at Western Seminary. Nate and Alyssa welcomed Lilly into their family in July and look forward to celebrating the completion of Nate’s M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies this winter.