History of NICL

The idea for the National Institute of Christian Leadership took root in my mind while serving as a university president nearly 20 years ago. I experimented with the concept in various iterations at two different institutions and became convinced that I could serve leaders, pastors and business people in a meaningful and significant way. Over that period of time what became the NICL took a better, clearer shape, and the material matured in sophistication in a far greater way than I even dreamed.

After more than 50 years of leadership in a wide variety of settings, I knew I had experience. My question to myself was: Could I formulate it, could I translate all that experience into a coherent course that would be useful to leaders at different places in their own careers?  I wondered if I could turn vast experience into transferable concepts applicable in a wide range of settings. The answer turned out to be yes, and YES in caps. The result has become the National Institute of Christian Leadership. More then 1200 leaders have already graduated from this certificate program which continues to rapidly expand both in the U.S. and internationally.

The whole idea of the NICL has always been and remains PRACTICAL APPLICATION.

So much of what I was taught in college, graduate school and at the doctoral level was theoretical. I was determined from the very beginning to keep the NICL PRACTICAL. I am committed to teach real approaches to real challenges and real cost and benefit answers to real leadership dilemmas.

The core of the program was originally designed with the local church and nonprofit world in mind. I have been gratified, however, to see how many from the business world have found tremendous benefit as well. It has been rewarding to see the 50-something pastor of a megachurch, a female small business owner, a youth pastor in his 20s, the president of an international missions agency and the CEO of a burgeoning construction company all studying and learning together. The NICL’s students have even included two university presidents and one state senator. Though most of the NICL’s students are Americans, others have commuted (four trips in a year) from as far away as Brunei, Israel, Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico and Albania. In other words, the material seems to apply easily across cultural, as well as professional, boundaries.

From the very beginning, a part of my vision for the NICL was to gently usher back into formal education veterans who, because of career realities, had exited the process. I found many mature leaders in substantial positions of leadership who had given up hope of ever getting a graduate degree. Five universities now give as much as a full year of advanced standing toward their master’s degree to leaders who earn a certificate from the NICL. One university even grants NICL graduates 12 hours which is one-third of its MBA program. There is no educational requirement to enter the NICL and certainly no obligation to go forward into any of the graduate schools which accept the NICL certificate. However, dozens of NICL grads have gone on to earn higher degrees.

From a burden to offer challenging practical education and advanced training to leaders in the field, came an idea, a dream that would not let go of me through the decades. That pressing burden and the dream it produced gave birth to the National Institute of Christian Leadership.

Become a more effective leader today

Whether you want to expand your influence, grow your church, re-launch your ministry or even earn credit hours towards your Masters degree, the NICL will give you the preparation, training and tools you need to make this a year of growth.

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