Those who are active in Estero have no doubt brushed shoulders with Nolen Rollins. Some may know him as pastor of Legacy Church; others know him in his role as chairman of the board for the Estero Chamber of Commerce. Still others may have participated in his GPS Life Journey workshops, discovering divine purpose for their lives and seeking mentorship for launching philanthropic ventures.
Lately, Rollins has been spearheading two community efforts with much potential for shaping and supporting Estero’s vision for the future. The Chamber-led Estero Community and Economic Development Team brings a diverse group of local leaders together to establish priorities and form strategies for achieving the Village’s collaborative vision. Simultaneously, the newly formed Estero Forever Foundation has been established to mobilize financial resources for the fulfillment of that vision.
On paper, a bullet-point list of the organizations Rollins has founded, chaired or directed takes an entire page. He has received numerous awards, but he is quick to say that’s not what motivates him.
“I am motivated by change — change that makes life better for others,” says the man who lives by the motto: “Trust and obey God.”
- What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
What I do best is build teams. A lot of stuff I do is developing strategies and enlisting teams, and then I am moving onto something else. If you put the right people together, then it looks like everything you touch turns to gold.
- It’s a bit unusual for a pastor to also chair the local chamber of commerce. Why is this combo good for you and for the community?
Leaders should be engaged in all areas of life. Leading the Chamber is not unlike leading other organizations I have served. Business, government and religion all impact the communities in which we live. Collaboration and cooperation are always good.
- How have you organized the Estero Houses of Worship to support community events?
It was my privilege to organize and serve as the first president of the Estero Houses of Worship, a collaboration of all the houses of worship in the Village of Estero. The churches in Estero have worked together to lead the annual National Day of Prayer and to help support other community events, such as Veterans Day recognition events and the Village of Estero anniversary celebrations, with volunteers.
- What is the GPS Life Journey, and how has it impacted our community?
The GPS Life Journey is a coach-facilitated process for helping individuals discover their purposes. Over 10,000 people in over 20 countries around the world have been through the GPS Life Journey process. Dozens of nonprofit organizations and movements have been birthed all around the world out of individuals discovering their passions and purposes. Locally, Grace Works Unlimited (outreach to needy senior adults), Wings of Shelter (ministry to human trafficking victims) and the Agunda Children’s Home (home for orphans) are a few nonprofits generated by GPS Life Journey graduates.
- You mentor others…who has been your greatest mentor?
My greatest business mentor was Bob Buford, founder of the Halftime Movement (who was mentored by Peter Drucker, known as “the man who invented management”). My greatest spiritual mentors were Henry Blackaby and Charles Stanley. I was privileged to be mentored for many years by all three.
- How did your upbringing in Tennessee help shape who you have become as a leader?
I was blessed to grow up in a large family of seven siblings. We were share croppers who mainly raised tobacco and corn. One of the most important lessons of life was learning the value of hard work at an early age. When I moved from a country, four-room grammar school to the city high school, every teacher spoke of college as the “normal thing to do” after high school. I was especially blessed to receive a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee. I studied business, and, after receiving a call to ministry, I used my business training to give leadership to several large churches across America as executive pastor.
- Among your many professional accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
I have been married to Clarice Cusick, of Lenoir City, Tenn., for over 48 years. We have two daughters and seven grandchildren. Without any doubt, my children and grandchildren are my greatest life accomplishments. Beyond my family, I am most proud of the many great leaders I have had the privilege to coach in business, education, government and religion.