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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

The NANC Leadership Transition, Part One: A BCC Interview with Heath Lambert

The NANC Leadership Transition Series - Lambert

BCC Staff Note: At the 2012 NANC Biblical Counseling Conference, the Board of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) announced that they had voted unanimously to elect Heath Lambert as the next Executive Director of NANC. They also announced a three-year transition plan with current NANC Executive Director, Randy Patten. To read more about the announcement please read our BCC post Dr. Heath Lambert Named New NANC Executive Director.

In this BCC three-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series, we will be interviewing Heath Lambert, Randy Patten, and Steve Viars (who served as the Chair of the Transition Committee). Today in Part One, we interview Heath Lambert.

BCC: “Heath, before we discuss all these exciting transition details, we’d love to introduce our BCC readers to you and your family. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background/training/experience, and also about your family.”

HL: “I am married to Lauren and we have three kids Carson (7), Chloe (4), and Connor (2). My wife and kids are my very favorite people in the world and I’m honored to live with them. With regard to background, training, and experience I did my M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southern Seminary.  My Ph.D. was in biblical counseling under David Powlison. My dissertation was on the differences between the first and second generations of biblical counseling. I have been in pastoral ministry for over ten years, and have been doing biblical counseling all of that time. I began teaching biblical counseling at Southern and their undergraduate institution, Boyce College, in 2006.”

BCC: “When the NANC Board first approached you about this ministry, what ran through your mind?”

HL: “I was thrilled. NANC is one of the most significant organizations in the biblical counseling world today. I was ecstatic that the board would be interested in me beginning a new phase of leadership in such a huge and significant association of biblical counselors.”

BCC: “We’ll talk about the ministry transition in a moment. But first, what will the transition be like for you and your family? How will this impact your current ministries? What do you think the transition will be like for your family? What do they think about this move?”

HL: “The main change at this point is that I will be resigning my part-time pastoral position at our church in order to make room for my new responsibilities in the transition at NANC. That will be hard, but not as difficult as it would otherwise be since we’ll be remaining at our church with our Christian family we love so much. That is the only thing I’ll really quit doing. The NANC board and the leadership at Southern Seminary all believe it is in everyone’s best interest for me to keep my faculty post at Southern. I won’t be teaching as many classes as I do now, but I’ll still have a vital role at the school. My family (at least the ones who are old enough to know what is going on) are thrilled about this, and what it represents for our family.”

BCC: “So, a three-year transition period. That’s uncommon. How will it work? What are the benefits of an extended leadership transition like this?”

HL: “The main transition happens this year. I am serving now as the Executive Director-Elect with various responsibilities. Randy Patten will remain the Executive Director until October 1, 2013. At that time I will assume leadership of NANC and Randy will become NANC’s Director of Training and Advancement. He is making a commitment to serve NANC in that post for at least two years (so a total of three years). The advantage of a transition like this is that it allows for an orderly change in leadership to happen while maximizing all of Randy’s skill and desire to continue to serve NANC.”

BCC: “You’ve known current NANC Executive Director, Randy Patten, for some time. Tell our readers about your relationship and about what you’re most looking forward to in working with Randy.”

HL: “Randy and I have had a very good relationship for the last several years. In every conversation I have ever had with him he has demonstrated humble godliness. I admire that so much in him. Over the last several months he has expressed numerous times his desire to serve me and NANC in this transition. Quite frankly, transitions like this often don’t go very smoothly, and I personally have been burned in one. I would never have been interested in a plan like this if I hadn’t been deeply impressed by Randy’s marked humility.”

BCC: “Someone says to you, ‘What’s NANC?’ If you had just sixty seconds, or just a paragraph, to answer, what would you say?”

HL: “NANC is an association of men and women all across the country and world who are committed to pursuing excellence in biblical counseling. They accomplish this pursuit by training and certifying biblical counselors and by certifying institutions who train those counselors.”

BCC: “Of course, the transition period will help you to shape your upcoming ministry, but as you envision it now, what will your primary tasks be as NANC’s Executive Director?”

HL: “I envision three basic tasks.

First, is strengthening. The reality is that NANC is a great organization. It is the largest network of biblical counselors in the world, it has all of the right doctrinal commitments, and is in a strong financial position. This means that one of my tasks is simply not to mess anything up!  I hope I can work so that at whatever point in the future that  I leave the organization it is stronger and not weaker because of my service.

A second task is expanding. There is an urgent need at NANC to carry our vision to groups within evangelicalism that we are not presently impacting. It is important to expand the audience of NANC without diluting our core theological commitments. I think this is the most challenging task headed into the future. How successful we are in doing this work will determine the level of influence our network of counselors and counseling centers has moving into the future of biblical counseling.

A final task is that of confronting and correcting caricatures. The reality is that NANC’s brand of counseling has been caricatured in the past. Too many people believe that NANC represents the stream in biblical counseling that is simplistic, anti-science, ignores suffering, and is mean-spirited. This is just not true, and I am going to work hard to prove it.”

BCC: “Again, we understand that this is early in the process, but in a preliminary way, what is your vision for NANC in the next decade?”

HL: “This is a great day to be in biblical counseling. There are many wonderful biblical counseling organizations. I want NANC to be a legitimate partner in the movement advancing a vision of biblical counseling which contends for the sufficiency of Scripture, engages people wisely as sinners and sufferers, is balanced in paying attention to issues of motivation and behavior, and is recognized as having an exceptional program to train and certify biblical counselors.”

BCC: “What do you see as the relationship between NANC and the BCC? Also, how can the BCC support and encourage you and NANC in the years ahead?”

HL: “NANC and the BCC have a close relationship. NANC has been an important financial contributor to the BCC and Randy Patten was a founding board member of that organization. I have been on the BCC Council Board since its formation. I want to see this close relationship continue. The BCC can support and encourage NANC as it continues to do things like this interview and point out all the good things our association of counselors and training centers are doing throughout the world to pursue excellence in biblical counseling.”

BCC: “Heath, what else would you like to share with our Biblical Counseling Coalition readers?”

HL: “I would love it if everyone reading this right now would stop and pray for us. Pray for me, Randy Patten, and every other member of NANC. The Lord has been impressing on me in a great way how much I am need of him to confirm the work of my hands as we move forward.  All of us in the biblical counseling movement are called to connect a living Christ to a world broken by trouble and transgression. That is a spiritual task for which we need spiritual power that the Spirit alone can provide. Whenever you think of NANC ask the Lord to help us!”

BCC: “Thank you, Heath. We’re excited to see what God will continue to do through NANC. We commit to praying for you as you step into this exciting new role.”

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How has NANC ministered to you?

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  • Diana Moore

    Welcome, Heath. I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for His kingdom as He takes NANC forward through new leadership. You’ve given a concise purpose statement of biblical counseling that I will be quoting for a very long time. Biblical Counseling is “connecting a living Christ to a world broken by trouble and transgression.”

  • Amy Knoll

    I agree with Diana — the statement “connecting a living Christ to a world broken by trouble and transgression” is a keeper! I wholeheartedly agree with your goals for the future of NANC, Heath, and will pray for you and your family as you desire to rely on His strength and wisdom! Thank you, too, Heath, for your moving message at the NANC conference and for sharing part of your story there…so thankful your mom came to Christ! God always writes good endings to His stories, and the one He wrote in your mom’s life certainly had a great ending!
    I will pray every time the Lord brings you and NANC to mind. NANC has certainly been a blessing in my life. The certification process was an amazing blessing — an opportunity to hone and sharpen my doctrinal beliefs through study and writing, then the supervision process was such a blessing to be “mentored” by Dr. Steve Viars and be privileged to get in on some of his wisdom from years of counseling and studying God’s Word and loving people (how in the world would this have EVER happened outside an organization such as NANC???!!!). In short, I have benefited greatly from the certification process and the continual training and encouragement opportunities NANC provides! Thank you, NANC!!

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The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.