A Seattle native now suffering in Southern California, Dustin Nickerson is an in demand comic on the rise. He’s a two time finalist of San Diego’s Funniest Person and the winner of the San Diego Clean Comedy Competition.

Dustin has been seen Laughs on Fox, the PBS Comedy Hour, Hulu and can regularly be heard on Sirius Radio XM, Rooftop Comedy, and the Darren Streblow Show.

Dustin describes himself as “the world’s most average person” but is far from it when on stage. He brings you into his life through his jokes about the struggles of parenting, marriage, and being generally annoyed by most people.

At just 33 years old, Dustin has been married for 13 years and has three kids! This helps makes Dustin truly one of the most unique voices in the comedy scene.

Dustin and Stuart have an inspiring conversation regarding Dustin’s journey, leadership, how to discover your gifting and excellence. This is a great listen!

Here’s the truth you need to know: Your leader is not in charge of you. You are in charge of you. 

You are in charge of you. You are in charge of your emotions, your thoughts, your reactions, and your decisions. It’s the law of personal responsibility, because everyone is responsible for leading something, even if that something is just you. 

When you’re not in charge, the most common temptation you’ll face is to abdicate responsibility. “If they had wanted me to take responsibility, they would have put me in charge. And since I’m not in charge of everything, I’m in charge of nothing.” 

But this is dangerous. This attitude is not evidence of a lack of leadership; it’s a sign of bad leadership. Remember, we’re all leaders. You have leadership in you, and if you find yourself abdicating responsibility because you’re not in charge, step one is to recognize it. Step two is to fix it. 

And that leads us to the second truth you need to know as a leader: When you’re not in charge, you can still take charge. 

To put this in the form of an Old English question, “Of what should you take charge?” Great question. 

The answer is you. You should take charge of you. 

Need a powerful example? In 1 Samuel 16:13, Samuel, the prophet of Israel (basically the authoritative spiritual voice of Israel), anoints David — who is around 15 years old — to become the second king of Israel. 

“… as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.”

Cool story…

Until you realize that there is already a king of Israel. His name is Saul. He’s still alive, very much in charge, a lot older and a really bad leader. 

David is anointed king as a 15 year old in verse 13, and one verse later, 1 Samuel 16 says this:

Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

Ummm… that’s not good. And an already toxic leader becomes even more toxic.

And what does God do? Somehow word gets to Saul that there is a 15 year old teenager named David who is an incredible harp player. Good music seems to be the only thing that calms the tormenting spirit inside him. So Saul sends messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, the shepherd.” Jesse responds by sending David to Saul, along with a “young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.” 

Keep this in mind: 15 year old David has been anointed king and now he is going to work under the serving king who is toxic, depressed, and paranoid.  

So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer. Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, “Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him.”And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away. (16:22-23 NLT)

David was so faithful to King Saul — even though young David was already anointed king of Israel — that Saul placed young David at the head of his army (I Samuel 18:5). David even married Saul’s daughter Michal and became a close friend of Saul’s son Jonathan. Regardless, an intense rivalry developed between the young new general and the king. Saul began to plot to kill him….

And what did young David do?

When you’re not in charge, you can still take charge. 

David took charge of himself. 

Let’s discuss this in the Circle…

In this Episode’s Version, INFLUNSR. asked you to read the story of the song You’ll Never Walk Alone. The song has been covered by everyone — from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin. In 2020, a version of the song partly sung by a 99-year-old World War II veteran shot to the top of the charts in the UK, where You’ll Never Walk Alone has become a kind of anthem for this moment. But the most famous cover of the song came in 1963 from Gerry and the Pacemakers, a band that like the Beatles, were from Liverpool, managed by Brian Epstein, and recorded by George Martin. In keeping with their band name, the Pacemakers changed the meter of the song, increasing the tempo, giving the dirge a bit of pep to it, and their version, sung by Gerry Mardsen, was a #1 hit in 1963. And fans of Liverpool Football Club almost immediately began to sing the song together in the stands during games. Today, the words You’ll Never Walk Alone are etched in wrought iron above the gates of Anfield, Liverpool’s stadium. Liverpool’s famous Danish defender Daniel Agger has YNWA tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand. Whenever Liverpool fans gather, the song is sung at the beginning and end of every game — sometimes in exaltation, often in lamentation. When Bill Shankly died in 1981, Gerry Mardsen sang You’ll Never Walk Alone at the memorial service — as it has been sung at many funerals for many Liverpool supporters.

The connectivity of the body of Christ is foreign to so many of us. Scripture tells us that we are all individual parts of one body. Paul elaborates and puts it this way:

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ… Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 

Paul says that, as Jesus followers, we are all one “unit” but made up of many “parts.” A Jesus follower can’t decide that, because they don’t desire to be connected, he or she doesn’t belong to the body. When you start following Jesus, you become a part of the body of Christ. Furthermore, Paul says that if I am an eye, without an ear, how can I hear? If I am an ear, without a nose, how can I smell?   

If you want to see how the body of Christ was intended to work, just go stump your big toe on your bedpost. What will transpire is a living example of how God intended us, the parts of the body of Christ, to respond to one another: 

  • Nerves send a signal to your brain that you are in pain in the South Pole region…
  • Your brain sends a signal everywhere…
  • Your hands respond by grabbing your toe…
  • Your mouth responds by screaming (what you scream optional)…
  • Your eyes respond by tearing up…
  • Your good leg responds by jumping up and down…

All of this happens in a matter of seconds! The parts of the body respond to the part of the body that is injured. 

Without the arm, the hand can’t function. Without the brain, the hand can’t function. Without the heart, the hand can’t function. The implication is clear: without the rest of the body, that hand, at the very least, would never exist for its purpose or, at worst, would be rendered useless. 

Are you like a hand that decides it does not need input or any help from the rest of the body? If so, you are risking a life of spiritual impotence and zero influence. Why do you need accountability at this point of your journey?

Let’s dive into this in the Circle…

We asked you to watch the stirring documentary 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room. Narrated by Emmy Award winner Jeff Daniels, the film recounts the 12 hours after the strike, with insights on leadership and decision making from President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Norman Mineta, Andy Card, CIA briefer Mike Morrell, Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Josh Bolten, Ari Fleischer, Air Force One pilot Col. Mark Tillman and others. The film features nearly 200 never previously published photographs.

Please Note: 

The following is intended solely to create a platform for critical thinking and Kingdom-building.

Pastor-author Brian Zhand says, “The sad fact is that America’s response to 9/11 (the endless “war on terror”) has been as destructive as 9/11. The way of war is not the answer. You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb the world to peace. Jesus calls us into another way. 

It’s hard for religious people to hear, but the most persistent violence in human history has been “sacralized violence”—violence that we treated as sacred, but which was, in fact, not. Human beings have found a most effective way to legitimate their instinct toward fear and hatred. They imagine that they are fearing and hating on behalf of something holy and noble: God, religion, truth, morality, their children, or love of country. It takes away all guilt, and one can even think of oneself as representing the moral high ground or being responsible and prudent as a result. It never occurs to most people that they are becoming what they fear and hate. As long as we deal with the real meaning of evil and sin by some means other than forgiveness and healing, we will keep projecting, fearing, and attacking it over there, commonly known as scapegoating, instead of “gazing” on it within ourselves and “weeping” over it. The longer we contemplate the cross, the more we recognize our own complicity in and profits made from the sin of others. 

What conflict(s) rises in you after watching the documentary and then considering the reality that violence to answer violence has no end? How does Jesus’ death on the cross address this in your mind? Is there more to the crucifixion than we think?

Let’s discuss this in the Circle…

We asked you to watch immigration attorney Erika Pinheiro’s Ted Talk What’s Really Happening at the US-Mexico Border — and How We Can Do Better. 

At the US-Mexico border, policies of prolonged detention and family separation have made seeking asylum in the United States difficult and dangerous. In this raw and heartfelt talk, immigration attorney Erika Pinheiro offers a glimpse into her daily work on both sides of the border and shares some of the stories behind the statistics — including her own story of being detained and separated from her son. It’s a clear-eyed call to remember the humanity that’s impacted by policy — and a warning: “History shows us that the first population to be vilified and stripped of their rights is rarely the last,” she says.

As a next generation leader, how do you balance the obvious danger and despair of people seeking asylum and the possible dangers to our country proposed by some in this theater? Is there a viable solution, in your mind? What is it? Be a Jesus follower who leads regarding this issue: what do we do?

Let’s discuss this in the Circle…

We asked you to read The Atlantic article titled The New Puritans by Anne Applebaum.

Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift—and merciless.

Staff writer Anne Applebaum writes, “… if we drive all of the difficult people, the demanding people, and the eccentric people away from the creative professions where they used to thrive, we will become a flatter, duller, less interesting society, a place where manuscripts sit in drawers for fear of arbitrary judgments. The arts, the humanities, and the media will become stiff, predictable, and mediocre. Democratic principles like the rule of law, the right to self-defense, the right to a just trial — even the right to be forgiven — will wither. There will be nothing to do but sit back and wait for the Hawthornes of the future to expose us.” 

As a leader who follows Jesus, how do you balance cancel culture with forgiveness, mercy and love? How is this manifesting itself in your own real-world reality?

Time to dive into this in the Circle…

We asked you to read the Christianity Today article ‘Ted Lasso’ Won’t Settle for Shallow Optimism by Morgan Lee.

The show’s second season challenges viewers to consider true joy over hyper-positivity.

Morgan Lee writes, “The call of the Christian life is a complex one. It calls us to both joy and sorrow, both hope and lament. It calls us to a posture of wisdom, one where we discern when to sit in solidarity with friends who mourn, when to speak truth, and when to call a brother or sister to hope (Ecc. 3:4). In the gospel, the contradictions Lasso’s creators attempt to portray meld harmoniously together. Maybe we can show our friends the real-life thing.” Our love for shows like Ted Lasso perhaps exemplifies our hunger for a space where trauma, joy, forgiveness, and community can coexist. And during a time of death and division, the church has a unique chance to be the messenger of the most consequential good news. How do we avoid the pitfall of shallow optimism and offer a greater story?

Let’s discuss this in the Circle…

We asked you to watch the standup special The Only White Comic on the Show, featuring comedian Dustin Nickerson doing stand up at the at Keep Your Distance Comedy Show with KevOnStage. 

One noted comedian has said, “Often we don’t know how to react about things. And there’s an expectation that you shouldn’t laugh at this or at that. People are, ‘Oh… we don’t want to offend anyone.’ So there’s something about, if you can break that down in laughter, it’s like a relief and a release valve.”

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Why do you think laughter and comedy is so influential?

Let’s dive into this in the Circle… 


INFLUNSR’s mission is to fuel the next generation of leaders worth following and to help students learn how to think, not what to think. Any articles posted and questions asked are intended for that sole purpose.

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