What does it mean to live a life of discipleship? Over the past year, our world faced a handful of unexpected changes that caused everyone to re-shift and even realign their goals. Some churches have digitized, schools switched to remote learning, and racial awareness is even more prominent. Yet, some goals remain the same for Christian leaders: leading people to Jesus, and in light of Natasha’s ministry, prioritizing discipleship.
Meet BCI Member, Natasha (@asistasjourney)
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is an author, President of T3 Leadership Solutions, Inc, Visionary Founder and Chairperson of the North Carolina-based nonprofit, graduate of the United States Naval Academy (USNA), former United States Marine Corps Captain, and former federal government employee of the Department of Homeland Security. Natasha is currently a doctoral student of North Park Theological Seminary and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Charlotte (cum laude, M.A. Christian Leadership). She shares her 20 years of leadership and mentoring experience in the military, federal government, academic, and nonprofit sectors to help empower today’s leaders. Having published more than 100 articles, Natasha shares her gift of writing and speaking to influence the public about leadership, mentoring, discipleship, and racial equity.
As someone worked in government agencies, how did you balance your Christian Faith?
As someone who was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, graduated from the Naval Academy in the first class of students post 9/11, it was very clear to me that I was in a serious, life or death business, and going about that type of life without God did not make sense.
In your book, A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World, you provide a Christian perspective on today's cultural tensions. Can you give some insight on our political climate over the past year?
What we're looking at is cultural wars with Christians who are on both sides of the fence. As I spoke to different groups about racial reconciliation in the church, I just found that people either didn't have a good anchor theologically about what they were saying, socially or historically. And I think we as Christian leaders/influencers, need to be consciously aware of the arguments on both sides. If we’re going to be reconcilers and truth tellers, we have to recognize our blindspots. The best support we can have for ourselves is being people who are steeped in the Word and who are always answering and submitting ourselves to the Word.
You can be zealous for God and wrong.
From a political perspective, if you follow the whole Bible, you’re not going to have 100% agreement on both sides, regardless of which side you're on. I think it's important that we listen and understand who we’re looking to, which is Jesus in the Word. If we submit ourselves and become willing to listen to each other, we can serve and lead with better integrity. You can be zealous for God and wrong. We have to be careful, and understand where we might be wrong about something.
How do you overcome the pressure from positions you’ve held as a mentor in the military, federal government, academic, and nonprofit sectors?
Prayer. While on this journey, there's absolutely been a lot of pressure, and I think there have been ways that I managed that pressure early on in my twenties that wasn't healthy. Part of my discipleship is unlearning some of those bad habits and then learning habits from the Christian side of things, like practicing spiritual discipline, not being on social media all the time, therapy, and rest. If you don't have those things in place by the time you need them, then you haven't planned well to take care of yourself. I think as Black Christian leaders who are under a lot of pressure, we need to first be anchored in our identity, and then, the work we do will overflow in a healthy way.
I think as Black Christian leaders who are under a lot of pressure, we need to first be anchored in our identity...
In your book, Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose Through Intentional Discipleship, you address the changes and challenges within the American Christian church. What changes have you seen that you think need to be urgently addressed?
I have said, which was part of my motivation for writing a Mentor for Life, that we have a discipleship crisis, which is really at the heart of my ministry work for God’s kingdom. I find that the church has been trying to package itself into this space, and we’re wondering why we’re disconnected. If we prioritize discipleship, COVID would not have stopped that. It was nothing for me to transfer my mentorship and discipleship program online. The number one thing I want to see people do in the church is not just taking people to Jesus and dropping them off, but taking them on that journey as they grow.
The number one thing I want to see people do in the church is not just taking people to Jesus and dropping them off, but taking them on that journey as they grow.
A close second to that is prioritize educating for our [black] children. I think about education and mentorship as preventive work. I know that when we help people off the negative path (drugs, alcohol, addiction), it takes a lot more money to rebuild a life than it does to keep a life on track. But there's not enough of us investing our time because we're so busy doing our own things that we are not investing our time where it's needed.
From your time in the USNA to your current role as a mentor and doctoral student, your experience is incredibly robust, diverse, and inspiring. What is the most consistent advice that you tell yourself and others?
I don't think we sit still long enough to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying about the Church. We have to be humble and submitted to Jesus. I think we can strive for so many things and measure success by what America says, but it just feels bankrupt to me, because I know that people are hurting and they're out here like ships with no anchors. We invest our energy, time, and talents doing stuff that doesn't necessarily have a kingdom impact. Can we just be better for each other in that? Jesus always stopped what he was doing because He had compassion on people.
Thank you, Natasha, for these wise reminders to keep Christian discipleship at the forefront and for reminding us that our leadership isn't limited to a church building.
Editor: Nia Stringfellow
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