Ben Nockels| Visionary

Ben Nockels

Ben Nockels


Describe the kind of work you do

Ha—good question! Over the past several years I have had the wonderful privilege and unique opportunity to cultivate a number of relational networks through various local faith-based, nonprofit, and other community wide endeavors.

I’m a relational creature through and through, often joking (but not really joking) that I’m a total “people junkie.” One of my personal philosophies and approaches to life is “go where the people are.” Connecting, gathering, and convening organizational leaders and cultural influencers is something that comes quite naturally to me, but it’s also something I do with a great deal of intentionality.

As a young twenty-something I read Tim Sanders’ book “Love Is The Killer App: How To Win Business and Influence Friends” and it instantaneously provided me with language and a framework for understanding myself and the broad-stroke purpose of my life.

He essentially says that we all have three things to offer the world: knowledge, network, and compassion. I thought, that’s me—that’s exactly what I want to be about in life. To this day, when I take a step back to look and quiet down to listen to my life and “see it for the fathomless mystery that it is,” I can honestly say that this big idea is still very much the driving force and common thread that runs throughout each and every endeavor I’ve undertaken to date, from planting churches to starting new nonprofits, rolling out campaigns, supporting ongoing good works, and sustaining long term initiatives.

If I had to put my life’s work in mission statement form (which is not at all like me to do as an extreme ENFP who wouldn’t know a boundary if I tripped on it, is reluctant to operate within well-defined and rigid structures, is comfortable with tension and lives in the world of the abstract, etc.) it would go something like this:

Build relational networks that help make Oklahoma City a better, more equitable, and just place to live for ALL people.

So how’s that for a non-answer?!?!

How did you come to do this type of work?

From 2004-2006 I lived and worked in Colorado Springs, CO where I was given the opportunity to plant a new church anywhere in the country. As I worked through and processed where that might be I was led back home to Oklahoma City for a handful of I knew that ultimately I wanted to serve a city, but I didn’t know how to serve a city that I didn’t first love. And love Oklahoma City I do! In a way that transcends geographical location, climate, or culture. There was a strong sense of “call” to place, which I believe is a fundamental element and prerequisite to any sustainable, long-term, and meaningful work. This is my home, not by circumstance or chance, but by choice. I choose to live, work, serve, play, and raise my three little ladies right here in this place—our beloved Oklahoma City.

I also felt that there was a relational network that I wanted to both tap back into and build even bigger and stronger for the good of the city. You might see a recurring theme here: people matter to me greatly.

There was also this sense that I was given a small sliver of influence to be leveraged for far more than the benefit of my own personal projects. So I routinely leverage my influence on behalf of others. I’m honestly a lot better suited for championing other people’s causes, as opposed to my own. In short, I find it deeply satisfying and immensely rewarding to build a platform and then give it away.

I have been uniquely fortunate to have individuals, families, churches, organizations, businesses, and foundations who have believed and invested in my life’s work. I couldn’t do it without them. It’s not something I’ve necessarily earned or deserve, which leads me to consider it a gift. And the only reasonable and appropriate response to a gift is gratitude.

Tell us a few things you have to be consistent in to do your best work.

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