The Fighter Within: Interview with Onterio Green

OnterioGreen
Heavyweight Champion and professional boxer Muhammad Ali, considered by many as the Greatest, once said that:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

Millions of people witnessed the greatness of Muhammad Ali but didn’t get to experience the sacrifice of training, hard work, and discipline that led to greatness. As a part of the REFlections interview series, I had an opportunity to interview an emerging leader who has developed the fight within. As the E-Pastor and Young Adults Pastor at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, Onterio Green has developed the discipline of fighting the good fight of faith. His heart’s desire is that you develop that same kind of tenacity. It’s my prayer that this interview challenges your core to be the person God has created you to be. Thanks Onterio for sharing life-changing words!

KEY: RF: Ryan Faison | OG: Onterio Green

RF: If you had to describe yourself in one phrase, what would that sentence be?

OG: A family man. Family is a supreme priority for me. Family always comes first. No matter what else I have on my schedule, my #1 priority is the health and wholeness of my family. This is partly due to my upbringing; I attended 16 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 4 high schools. These challenges, amongst others, prompted me to take a greater focus on the health of my marriage and family. Above all else, I want to be known as a family man — a man who invests and loves his family first.

RF: Your family is extended to your Potter’s House family in Dallas. As the E-Pastor (Online Campus Pastor) and Young Adults Pastor (BrickHouse), what would you consider the “secret” to godly success?

OG: Teamwork. At the Potter’s House, it is a core value and one of my core values. From top to bottom, teamwork is demonstrated in the daily operations to the national and international conferences such as The International Pastors & Leadership Conference (recently held in Orlando, Florida) and the upcoming Mega-Fest (in August 2015 in Dallas, TX; www.mega-fest.com). Within this teamwork dynamic is structure that allows for fluid communication and greater effectiveness. As E-Pastor, our online campus is the largest campus with over 300,000 viewers around the world. In order for this campus and others to thrive, teamwork is the key.

For example, our Brickhouse Young Adults Ministry is based on team. Our visionary, Bishop T.D. Jakes, has taken a vested interest in the Now Generation. As pastor of Brickhouse, I’m blessed to lead this ministry with a core leadership of eight (8) leaders and sixty to seventy (60-70) volunteer leaders. As leader of The Brick, I employ the same work ethic I had ministering in Upstate NY, Florida, Kansas City and now in Dallas. With over nine years in ministry, I would consider myself a go-getter and a workaholic. Our team has the same flow and we’re excited about the opportunities to serve our generation.

I must say my transition to The Potter’s House was a bit intimidating. You had a high capacity team who are all go-getters! In my time at The Potter’s House, it has been a joy to work such a team that has a global impact. Success in ministry demands teamwork and a strong work ethic!

 

Success in ministry demands teamwork and a strong work ethic! – Pastor Onterio Green

 

RF: Who are your greatest mentors and what are your thoughts on mentorship, especially for our generation?

OG: Pastor Chris Hill (Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House in Denver, Colorado) has been a mentor and spiritual father for me for over 17 years. Pastor Chris has taught me how to be a father, a husband and a man. He has been whispering in my ear and giving me godly advice like a biological father. I also thank Lady Joy Hill for her impartation to both my wife and me over the years. I also have other mentors in my life that speak into my life. They may not be well-known, but their investment in me is invaluable.

Here are some things I’ve learned about mentorship:

  • You can’t choose a mentor. A mentor chooses you. You can’t throw yourself at people and then get upset when they don’t catch you. Our responsibility is to ensure we are open to instruction and to be teachable. This quality is attractive to mentors.
  • God will give you who you need for where you are going. Value every level of mentorship. Don’t despise small beginnings. God will provide you everything you need for where you are going. Trust God to resource you and to be your provision.

 

God will give you who you need for where you are going. – Pastor Onterio Green

 

RF: Onterio, what would you consider the greatest moment or the most exciting moment in the last year?

OG: I must say that the “Running Reckless” Brickhouse Young Adults Conference held in November 2014 was one of the greatest moments in ministry. It was an opportunity for our generation to get Bishop’s (T.D. Jakes) attention. This conference set the stage to restore trust in the older generation to pass the baton to the younger generation. This conference placed attention on valuing the anointing and being poured into. We’re excited about this year’s conference (Running Reckless) on November 20-22 at The Potter’s House in Dallas!

RF: What would you consider the most challenging in the last year?

OG: The most challenging would be the responsibility of being on bigger stages. The transition to larger platforms such as global conferences require a greater level of maturity, character and scope. You are not only talking to the same audiences you are used to. I’m thankful to Bishop Jakes, First Lady Jakes and The Potter’s House family for the opportunity. I realize it is a blessing to be treasured and taken seriously.

RF: On a personal level, what are the most exciting moments for you right now?

OG: It’s watching my children enter their pre-teen years. They’re entering youth ministry and it’s a joy to watch them grow in their relationship with the Lord. At their age, I was not sold out to Christ like they are. It is a joy for me. We pray every morning and to see them take greater ownership of their relationship with God is a father’s greatest joy!

RF: What was the most challenging for you?

OG: Over a month ago, I defeated thyroid cancer. Only a few people knew of the diagnosis and prayer warriors surrounded my family with prayer and intercession. After the surgery, I did post on social media about God’s grace and overcoming power. I didn’t make it public because I think at times Christians cry too much about what’s wrong. My wife and I made a decision to fight. We are fighters! As a leader, you don’t have the time to sit and cry. Check in and fight! We fought in prayer and stood on the promises of God. I’m a living witness to God’s faithfulness! No matter what the situation, don’t stop fighting! Discover the fighter within! 

RF: Speaking of fighting, there are leaders reading this interview that are tired. They have tried different strategies and have not seen the results they were hoping for. They hear of your success and may question what they are missing. What would you say to them?

OG: Great question. As a leader, you have to fight for the dream. But, your dream needs a team. How much is your team invested in the vision? I would even add — can your team explain your vision to you? If not, it’s important to make the vision and mission clear. Also, it’s important (if you’re in a ministry context) to have 100% support of the senior leader and have their public endorsement of the vision. If the senior leader/pastor is excited about what’s happening, others will discover it’s importance and value.

Another key point is prayer. Do you have prayer meetings or prayer times? With all the strategies, goals and dreams, if prayer is missing, you will not have the power of God that you are seeking. Remember — it’s about following God’s will, not the stage lights. Stay consistent and stay committed.

RF: Thanks Onterio. What lasting words will you leave to leaders, especially emerging leaders?

OG: When you read Genesis 37 (the life of Joseph), it actually resembles a life of a young adult Christian leader. The story speaks of purpose, the pit, pharaoh, prison and the palace. Once you discover your purpose, you may find yourself in a pit. In those seasons, don’t check out. Don’t give up. After the pit, you may find yourself in front of the leader! The pharaoh stage is the season of learning how to serve and honor your leader. If you cannot serve the vision of your leader, God will not entrust you with your own. As a leader, you may even find yourself in a prison. You may feel like you’re stuck. But, the prison stage always precedes the palace. When you read the life of Joseph, in every stage, He honored God in his words and behavior.

As a leader, you have the opportunity to impact your generation in unique ways. God has shaped you for purpose. Trust God to set your path and watch Him do supernatural things in your life. I’m thankful for God’s grace and look forward to what’s ahead!

Connect with Onterio

Booking: www.onteriogreen.com

Onterio On Twitter: @OnterioGreen

Onterio on Instagram: @OnterioGreen

The BrickHouse Young Adults Ministry: www.facebook.com/bricked

Running Reckless Conference (November 20-22, 2015): www.brickhouseya.org

BrickhouseRevised
Brickhouse Running Reckless Young Adult Conference takes place on November 20-22, 2015 at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas | www.facebook.com/bricked

Championing Courage: The Chris Estrada Interview

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John Maxwell

REFlectionsChrisEstradaThe mark of a true leader is clearly identified in their character. Titles and positions will only take you so far. Character takes you the distance! In this REFlections interview, I had the privilege of interviewing a brother and leader with proven character. To modify John Maxwell’s quote above, this leader knows THE WAY, follows THE WAY, and shows others THE WAY. On public platforms and behind-the-scenes, this man of God serves selflessly and cares deeply about our generation.

Chris Estrada is the Director of the Youth Major at Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI) in Dallas, Texas. In this capacity, he has been afforded the unique opportunity to pour into leaders and pastors from around the world. Chris has also been entrusted to host the National Youth Leader Experience (see link after interview), taking place this weekend (starting April 25, 2014). Chris has extensive experience in pastoral ministry, business and mission work.

In this interview, it is my prayer that you hear the words of encouragement, conviction and wisdom from a friend I truly admire.

REF: What does a day look like in the life of Chris Estrada?

Chris: Everyday looks different and serves as an opportunity to journey with God. Among the traveling my wife and I do yearly, we lead a small group for leaders and pastors in our local church. I don’t want to be one of those traveling ministers that don’t have a footprint in the local church. All roads lead to the local church. I’ve learned that even with planning out my day (I’m a planner), I need to take time to reflect and praise God for what He’s done in an event or gathering before moving on to the next thing.

REF: What advice would you give leaders about valuing family?

Chris: Ryan, man…I actually learned it through a hard lesson. I went through a situation when my senior pastor made poor decisions in light of his wife’s sudden heart attack. The church was attempting to reclaim its footing after the leader made these bad situations. I learned that there were people who would say (speaking of me), “Pastor Chris will always be there for you.” However, I knew I needed to be there first for my family. At that season of our lives, we neglected our family. While others were at family BBQs, we had to be at a church. If were at a birthday party, we could only stay an hour because we had a leader meeting at church.

Now, being on staff at CFNI, I am free to say to others that I can stay for only an hour at an event or gathering because I have to go be with my family. My family is incredibly important. Nothing trumps my wife and children. I will tell my wife, “If you are not enjoying your life because of something I’m doing or involved in, I will shut it down.” I have no problem stopping what I am doing. My ego is not attached to what I do. I can go back into corporate America or the business world and win my co-workers to Christ. I don’t need a stage and mic to do that.

I am not an absent dad. You will not see me opening my laptop at home with family and rarely will I text or talk on the phone after 5 PM (unless you are Ryan – LOL)! 

REF: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that word be and why?

Chris: I would probably use the word courage. I’ve always been the least qualified or lacking any qualifications to do what I do. I don’t know how I got the wife that I got (it took courage)! Sometimes, I don’t even know how I got in the rooms I got in or developed the relationships I have today. It took courage and not feeling insecure in the shadow of their great ministries or influence. My lifelong battle has been to stay encouraged. Even when facing hard times as a man, husband, father and servant of God. It takes courage to move forward.

Our ministry’s motto is: Releasing courage and power to risk takers & dreamers who want divine turnarounds. That’s who we are and that is our message. We are constantly taking risks and if it doesn’t require courage, we don’t do it. I rather fail and still have courage than have need of it.

…if it doesn’t require courage, we don’t do it. – Chris Estrada

REF: Chris…Pastor Andy Stanley was quoted saying, “A single act of courage is the tipping point to extraordinary change.” So, what act of courage have you implemented that encouraged you to live this life of courage?

Chris: The one that sticks out to me is when I first got saved. I grew up with a Catholic background. My family was from the hood but we had that “street smart”. We were very intellectual at the level. With that said, I wasn’t convinced that Jesus was powerful. I knew He loved me. But, I didn’t think He was powerful until I gave a friend a ride to the impound. God spoke to me when I met up with a man there. God said (a deep impression of the heart), “I want you to wash this man’s feet.” Now, I’m not for weird or spooky. But, when God spoke to my heart, my immediate reaction was, “You wash his feet!” (laughs) In my NO, the sense became stronger and stronger, “Son, I need you to wash this man’s feet.”

I wrestled with the Lord. I saw the man and got a coffee mug with cold water. I thought it would be game over when I offered to wash this man’s feet. It wasn’t. But, when I tell you this man’s feet was the most obscene looking feet I’ve ever seen! It looked like a forest on the man’s feet. You had to peel off his socks. I’m not exaggerating! I said to God, “I know you love me, but in this moment, you must hate me because you would only ask someone you hate to do such a thing!

Finally, I worked up enough courage to wash his feet and then to have to wash hooves! MAN! As I started to wash his feet, he complained that the water was ice cold. I apologized for the temperature and began to rub his feet. I watched firsthand clear water turn black-gray from the grime on his feet. I will never forget this — God led me to pray for this man as I was washing his feet. I was led to pray for his marriage that was heading for divorce. I sensed he was deeply concerned about how his sons will respond to it and prayed that he would never lose his fatherly voice in their lives. I prayed that what God put together no man would be able to separate. I prayed that he would find the courage to make changes and draw close to God. I remember as I prayed, this huge man who was big and imposing began to weep right over me. It was in that moment I realized that people need courage.

Ever since, I’ve been known to take courageous steps. My family lives by courage. My kids live with courage. My daughter courageously prophesied over a woman who was clinically depressed (and she didn’t have previous knowledge of her condition). I watched my son minister to a man who had a great gift of singing but thought he was going to die prematurely. My son knew this man (a waiter) was tormented by the early death of others in his family and was in the music industry (my son would have never known that). Courage is needed in whatever you do. You can never overdose in courage! 

You can never overdose in courage! – Chris Estrada

REF: How do you believe God is using you to infuse the value of courage in the next generation of leaders, especially in your role at CFNI?

Chris: People believe there are not good leaders due to a lack of trust. Poor views of leadership in government and society bleed into the Church. You have many who will question their spiritual leaders’ motives and agendas. But, I believe the lack of trust in leadership is due to not liking the environments they are in. They may be looking for a perfect environment. Ryan, I’ve been in hundreds of churches and know a great number of pastors and leaders. You are not going to find a perfect environment. You are not going to find perfect people. It is essential to beseech people and leaders to be as unoffendable as possible. Our feathers are too easily ruffled. Our feelings are too easily hurt. By no means is this a license to be insensitive. But, we must learn to bear with one another and a heart to bring the best out in others.

My chief job in life to bring out the best in my wife. It is the same with kids, my staff and my students. I am a gold-digger. I am searching for the gold. I understand that in order to find the treasure, I must dig through the dirt. But, my focus is never the dirt, but the gold. When you have this mentality, you are ready to go through some misunderstandings and miscommunication. As leaders, you live in a glass house. It is important that we understand our humanity while demanding integrity.

Ryan…this generation of leaders have much charisma, but character is too often lacking. I say this because I am young. I’ve never had a problem with others not trusting me because I follow through with what I’m going to do. If I can’t do something, I say something. It is a character issue. When I started at CFNI, I was 27 and I’m overseeing a bible college with over 1200 students from all over the world. Why would they trust a 27 year old to run that? It is an integrity issue.

I don’t want to see people in their dysfunction but their destiny. This is why Jesus can see the prophet in the pervert and the apostle in the addict! I’ve heard some preachers say how they have a problem with some titles given to Bible narratives such as “the woman with the issue of blood.” This was her dysfunction, not her destiny. We must see people in their destiny — it’s easier said than done. It is easy to limit others to their dysfunction. But, we must build our spiritual muscle to forgive easier, to overlook and keep going.

I don’t want to see people in their dysfunction but their destiny. – Chris Estrada

REF: How does this philosophy of ministry help you in leading and serving at CFNI?

Chris: Dude, I get many who say that the students we receive at our school are the church’s best of the best. But, you will be surprised to know the struggles they contend with such as homosexuality, addictions and other potentially disabling issues. We are here to train generals and “polished arrows”. But, the Lord sends us the broken to serve the broken. Give us the Gideons, give us the Davids — seeing a king in a shepherd boy. Even with the struggles, we call out destiny and ensure the goal is clear. Too often, we are destination conscious. Destiny is not where you end up but who you end up becoming. 

Destiny is not where you end up but who you end up becoming. – Chris Estrada

REF: One last question Chris and its personal…What do you enjoy doing? 

Chris: I’m Hispanic so I love to eat! My trainer doesn’t like it, but I love good food. I love good laughs. I love basketball. I play ball every Monday (I might play tonight)! I like being alone too. Don’t get me wrong — I love people, but I yearn for the quiet moments. With 3 kids screaming in the back, I like the peace and quiet. I love plane rides and love to read books. I’m a 6, 7, 8 books-a-year guy. But, Ryan — I do read my Bible and that takes much of my time!! I love seeing people “get it” especially when it comes to identity. When people know who they are, they understand what they are called to.

NOTE: In this moment, Chris spoke personally into my life from the Scriptures by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Chris is a leader God is using to speak life and destiny into the lives of people — including this interviewer! Thank you Chris for your heart, ministry and brotherhood! 

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Click Here: Chris Estrada Ministries Website

Click Here: National Youth Leaders Experience