Salute to a Steward Leader
On June 28, 2017 Christian Leadership Alliance lost a dear friend and admired colleague as Dr. Kent R. Wilson, after an extended battle with cancer, went home to be with our Lord.
Kent was a faithful leader who influenced many lives. His wisdom, kindness and Christ-like approach to steward leadership exemplified CLA’s mission to equip and unite leaders who transform the world for Christ. Kent is deeply missed by all of us here at CLA, and our prayers are with his family.
Kent often led transformative workshops, ITI seminars and Academy courses at CLA’s Outcomes Conference. He was also a frequent author for CLA, whether in Outcomes magazine or CLA’s Higher Thinking Blog. I encourage you to read some past CLA blog posts which capture Kent’s passion for steward leadership of Christian nonprofit organizations:
- Developing an Organization of Stewards (July 27, 2016)
- A Leader's Stakeholders (Feb. 17, 2016)
- God’s Objectives (Nov. 25, 2015)
- The Steward Leader’s Creed (Oct. 14, 2015)
- The Steward Leader as Risk Taker (April 29, 2015)
“Dr. Kent Wilson truly lived out the principles of steward leadership that he advanced,” said Tami Heim, CLA President and CEO. “Kent had a marked impact on the lives of many Christian nonprofit leaders, and I feel blessed to have been able to work with him. We certainly miss Kent, but are deeply thankful for his profound influence in helping us to achieve the mission of Christian Leadership Alliance.”
I was also blessed to work alongside Kent on CLA’s Leader2Leader initiative. I admired his brilliant intellect, kindness, consistency, professionalism and passion for following Christ and building steward leaders. Kent was zealous to help Christian nonprofit leaders strengthen one another, reminiscent of Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
CLA’s Leader2Leader (L2L) initiative was birthed out of Kent’s vision for equipping CEO’s and other C-Level Christian nonprofit leaders through peer advisory groups. He served as CLA’s national Leader2Leader coordinator, training our L2L facilitators and supporting them in their L2L groups. He also facilitated a CLA Leader2Leader group in his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo.
Take a look at this 2015 video in which I interviewed Kent about CLA’s Leader2Leader initiative:
Leader2Leader is a unique experience designed to connect like-minded and like hearted leaders who share similar positions in similar sized organizations. These covenant peer advisory groups are designed for C-level nonprofit executives who meet monthly for the purposes of mutual support, problem solving, prayer and accountability in order to become world-class leaders of life-changing organizations. A professionally trained facilitator leads each group through a disciplined process of group discussion/advice concerning challenges, decisions or opportunities members are facing in their leadership or organizations.
CLA currently hosts seven Leader2Leader groups with approximately 70 participants in five cities. And the initiative is growing with CLA L2L groups being developed in other cities.
One leader from Kent’s Colorado Springs Leader2Leader group, Jon Hirst, president and CEO of GMI (Global Mapping International) wrote a powerful July 14, 2017 article for CLA’s Higher Thinking Blog honoring Kent, entitled “A Leader’s Legacy.” He said of Kent’s Leader2Leader group facilitation: “He was in his element when he was facilitating and coaching leaders to make their very best contribution. He made facilitation look easy; inserting just the right resources and asking the very timely questions. He also paid close attention to detail and never let a wayward thought go unchallenged. When you were in the room with Kent, you were excited because you knew he would bring out the best in you.”
“Kent was a faithful leader who influenced many lives.”
Kent’s vision for CLA’s Leader2Leader initiative bore fruit not only in his own group, but across the nation.
- “Leader2Leader has provided a confidential venue to problem solve alongside godly nonprofit leaders in my area. What an enriching environment! My L2L friends have helped our ministry avoid costly mistakes, capture opportunities, implement new systems and grow much more quick than we would have on our own. The comradery and bold prayers strengthen leaders for inevitable ministry challenges.”
Michele Rickett, CEO, She Is Safe (Atlanta)
- “L2L has been an incredible experience. As a young executive, there is nothing that replaces rubbing elbows with men and women that sit where I sit, walk where I walk, and can ultimately give me insight, tips and confidence in the decisions I’m making. By God’s grace, I’m dreaming bigger dreams and I’m drawing closer to Christ in my leadership because of this winning team that I’ve joined.”
Jonathan Pitts, Executive Director, The Urban Alternative (Dallas)
We’re so thankful to Kent for his vision, passion and commitment to CLA’s Leader2Leader initiative, and we look forward to continuing to grow this powerful tool for influencing Christian nonprofit leaders.
Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization
We also celebrate that last year Kent was able to publish an influential book for nonprofit leaders - Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization (IVP Books, 2016).
This is a fitting book for this “Strategy” edition of Outcomes. Of it Kent said: “This is a foundational book written for anyone in leadership at a nonprofit organization who wants a well-documented introduction to nonprofit leadership, including board members, executive directors and even stakeholders. It will especially appeal to those who recognize the inadequacies of other leadership models as applied to nonprofit leadership and who are looking for a more effective and contextual model.”
If you haven’t yet done so I encourage you to order this book. It encapsulates Kent’s vision for both steward leadership and the important role of nonprofits in our world.
Dr. R. Scott Rodin, president of The Steward’s Journey, and author of The Steward Leader, captured well the importance of Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization, saying: “We are indebted to Kent for this thorough presentation of the uniqueness of the steward leader for nonprofit organizations. His historical survey, biblical foundation and the chapters on the nonprofit board as steward leaders and the nonprofit staff as stewards are especially welcome additions to the field of steward leadership studies.”
Kent truly understood nonprofits and steward leadership. That wasn’t only from his studies, writing, coaching and teaching, but also from his direct experience in a variety of nonprofit organizations including the church, Christian camping ministry and a commercial nonprofit Christian publishing company. He also sat on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, often as board chairman. Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization included this poignant quote from Kent:
“As a Christian, I believe that God owns everything. I have tried to lead and steward nonprofit organizations being cognizant of his ownership and rights. Like many of the Christian nonprofit organizational leaders I interviewed, I was motivated by obedience to God’s will and his inevitable ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Our friend Dr. Kent R. Wilson finished well the tasks he was given by God. Let us follow in his footsteps, and persevere as we equip and unite Christian leaders who like Kent will transform the world for Christ.
W. Scott Brown is Vice President for Leadership Experiences and Resources for Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA). He also serves as the Editor-in- Chief for CLA’s Outcomes magazine, and Outcomes Online eNewsletter. Scott received a M.A. in Communications: Journalism/Public Affairs from The American University, a M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, and a B.S. from Liberty University.