Friday, August 29, 2014

Yea, Though I Walk...Abundance

I have been thinking a lot lately about seasons of life.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 expresses perfectly the balance of those ups and downs.  There is a time for every experience and emotion as we walk this journey.

My mother is 101 years old and though her mobility has declined markedly in the last few years her mind stayed sharp.  Until a few weeks ago.

In the past couple of weeks we have watched her mind slip away at a rapid pace.     God has made it clear to my siblings and me that she needs more care than we can provide, so we are on a quest to find a suitable care facility.  So far no doors have been open there.

I've been spending time in recent days thinking about this process of aging.  We begin aging from the time we are born.  At first that brings growth, but all too soon it turns to decline.  If God grants us enough years of life, we all experience this for ourselves and for our loved ones.  I'm convinced this is part of God's mercy as He uses it to loosen our hold on earth and help us reach for our real home in heaven.

Likewise, the seasons of struggle and hardship in our lives are God's "severe mercy" to draw us to Him and to make the seasons of bounty and abundance all the sweeter.

The winter/ early spring of 2014 were months of real struggle for my walk in Operation Christmas Child.  I couldn't discern if God wanted us to have a large packing party this year.  As I wrestled with that decision and decisions about retirement from my job as a school nurse it felt like walking through a valley...or a desert...or whatever simile you want to use for those times when you wish you could just take a break from life.

Fast forward to this summer.  My team and I finally made a decision around Easter time to trust God to provide for another large packing party this year.  Our storage container was nearly empty at that time.

Now--especially in the past two weeks--His abundance is flowing over us.  Part of the reason I've been a slacking blogger lately is because I spend so much time managing the blessings.

The 165 new shirts in the picture above were donated by local YMCAs and God opened doors for other organizations to donate also.  Our city paper published a letter to the editor I wrote about our need for stuffed animals and the phone keeps ringing with so many being contributed.  Abundance.

In the past two days our team members have brought in over 600 stuffed animals and nearly 300 major anchor items.  Abundance.

Our crayons have all been purchased, a shipment of 20,000 pens are on their way, and we're trusting God for just 3,789 more clothing/anchor items and 9,251 stuffed animals.  That may seem like a lot, but the way God is moving assures me He has already accomplished it.  Abundance.

We finally got approval from our church for dates secured to host the packing party (phew--glad that's taken care of) and now we trust Him for volunteers and details and deliveries.  No need to worry, though.

Our God of abundance will deliver.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Louie Giglio

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )  Closing session with Louie Giglio

I am a pastor of a new church plant in Atlanta GA and one of the things we say a lot is the doorposts in the Kingdom of God are humility and honor.  Honor is giving thanks to the people who have made it possible for us to be where we are.  (called Bill Hybels up on stage)  As a leader there were times I wanted to quit and, to me, Bill Hybels has always been bullet proof.  He's the smartest, most innovative guy I've ever seen.  On behalf of all those impacted by the GLS in its 20 year history I want to thank you for not giving up and for paying the price and being a great leader.

When I think about the GLS I think they've done a good job of branding with the logo of the mountain.  I want us to think about the mountain today.  I've only climbed one mountain--the Matterhorn.  I wouldn't suggest this as a first mountain to climb.  What I want us to do today is think about what God has called us to do and I want us to leave with the confidence that no matter what God has called us to do we are going to succeed in Jesus' name.

What is your mountain?  What are the heights to which you wish to ascend?  We want to send you out with the confidence that not only YOU can make it to the summit but that you can take others with you.

Sometimes we don't even know what we're doing.  A lot of times as a leader I feel like that but I don't want that to stop me from letting God do something great.

Can we be honest?  Sometimes you just don't know what to do.  I'd like to put a few ideas into play to lead us out into action.  You don't need to know everything about how to get up the mountain in front of you to take the next step.

Life is short

--a leader has to breathe this in every moment.  We have all these preconceived notions about how long we will live but we constantly need to feel an urgency about the great things of life.  We have to carry that sense of urgency with us.  The stakes are too high for us to die with a small vision.

We have to continually cultivate this idea that life is short.  When you stand at the Matterhorn you look up at the mountain and think "I don't see a stairway and I don't know how this is going to work."   You train for a week and get checked out by a guide and then hike to a small camp.  Then at 4 am you wake up and set out on a sprint to the top.  It's 3X the Empire State Building in four hours.  If you aren't on the summit by a certain time you don't succeed.  

Edward Wimper who was the first to conquer it set out to do what couldn't be done.  We need to say "no" to the status quo and do what we think can't be done.

God is Big

All of life is to bring glory to God.  Finishing well is a big idea.  But the biggest idea is believing that Jesus is the greatest thing in time and eternity and everything is about Him and His glory.  When we couple the fact that life is short with the fact that it's all about Jesus, it propels me to....

Take the Next Step

You get up the Matterhorn one step at a time.  That's the only way to the top.  I want to encourage you that you can do it and also
--YOU can't do it.   Unless God does it, it isn't going to happen.

We don't have to worry about how to get to the summit we just need to believe His power is sufficient to take the next step and move toward the goal He has given us

Let me tell you about three of my hardest steps--

For 7 of the 10 years we were at Baylor in Texas my father was disabled and my mother had to care for him.

After 9 years we thought we would go to Atlanta and on the last day of the ministry --  5/1/95 -- we buried my dad.

We thought, "What just happened?" but we went to Atlanta anyway and after 3 months God called us to start a ministry to campuses across the nation and Passion was born.  Born out of frustration and confusion.

Fast forward to January, 2014.  I was asked to do the invocation at a bowl game that and stood on the logo of the sponsor  --  Chick-fil-A.  Back in 1964 my Dad created that logo.  After that bowl game a team of people came in and in less than 24 hours transformed that arena into a gathering called Passion 2013.  I got to proclaim Jesus to 64,000 college age young people and the whole time I was preaching my dad's logo was under my feet.  I knew that God knew that in the valley of the shadow of death something was going to bloom that was going to blow up a lot of stuff for the glory of God.  When everything looks like it's off the rails, embrace the darkness because God is preparing to use you for His glory.

When we take a step sometimes we're stepping through the darkness but we remember we serve a big God and there will be a day when we thank God for bringing us through that valley.

In 2008 one night at 2 am I was having convulsions and my face and arm went numb.  I had a blood pressure of 180/160.  Some antidepressants and five months of being out of commission later.,,  After some anxiety attacks God pulled me up out of the pit from the weakest place I've ever been in and gave me a song in the night until I could join the daylight.

I learned as a new pastor who only had a flock of 20 people that if I didn't know it was God and not me I wasn't going to make it.  God wanted me to know-- you CAN but you CAN'T.   There are no saviors attending this summit.  It is God within who empowers us.  

We are heading into shutting down our church for two Sundays for a sabbath rest to affirm that what we do depends on God and no one else.

Five days after speaking at the dome for the bowl game I was on TV because I was called a hater of people.  I built my whole life on serving people and all of a sudden I was called a hater of people.  I had agreed to pray for the president's inauguration.  I knew some people wouldn't like me but all of a sudden my life was filled with reporters.  I wanted to quit that day.  I wanted to disappear.   My wife and I hid in our bedroom.  I'd never been through something like that before.

What we learned is it's a luxury to do some things but it's a necessity to make Jesus and His glory famous.  So we just backed out of the fray and ended up having that galvanize our calling.  We went on to take the next step to make Jesus known.

When you take a step you're tested and refined.  The next thing that happens is you learn God is able.  Then you learn humility and that God is enough.

"When I am weak, I am strong" -- when you go through the valley you learn that God is enough.  His grace is sufficient.

I don't know what your step is today but God's grace is enough for you.

It might be an ordinary step.  It might be a bold step.  But God will give you the grace to take the step He is calling you take.

This makes us hungry for the very LAST step when we fall into the arms of Jesus.  Falling into the arms of Jesus is our goal.

In Wimper's party they all made it to the summit but four died on the way down.  Our goal is to take the next step and the next until we get to that last step and fall into the arms of Jesus.  THEN we will have what we loved the most.
That's the extraction point for us.

A leader can't have a plan B.  A leader has to make it to the finish line.  You have to be committed to going all the way into the arms of Jesus.   Jesus said come and extract me from the tomb.  No plan B.  One extraction point.  In that moment Jesus became alive and gave life to everyone who trusts in Him.

The plan for us is not to cash out because we have fear or might fail.  We are not going to cash out because of hardship.  We are going to keep taking steps in the grace of Jesus Christ and nothing else matters.

It's not hype.  It's called resurrection.  Jesus said, "Do you want to join me?  It's not going to be easy and you CAN'T do it....oh but you CAN do it."  When you fall into His arms no price will be too high and no sacrifice too much and you will say, "I'm so glad I didn't quit.  I'm so glad I kept going up my mountain."

Don't quit.  Don't stop walking in the confidence that Christ is enough to fulfill everything He has called you to do.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Tyler Perry

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )

When Leadership Meets Inspiration :  Interview with Tyler Perry

Bill:  I am so grateful you agreed to come and spend time with us.  I had the opportunity to spend time at Tyler Perry's studio in Atlanta.  It's like a city.  The other thing that becomes apparent is this guy is a creative machine.  He puts out more shows than almost any other human being.  You have the creative side and then the business side.  Which skill set comes more naturally to you.

Tyler:  I think they're twins in the same space in my head.  I had a lot of trauma growing up and that helped me create these amazing worlds.  When the Bible says "All things work together for good," this is what I mean.  I also watched my father build houses for years.  He would be so happy when he came home on Friday and he had made $700 or $800.  Then I'd watch the man who owned the house sell it for $100,000.  I wanted to be the man who sold the house not the man who built the house.

Bill:  Where do you go to write and still run your organization?  How do you do this?

Tyler:  I try to keep the two separate.  I try to give the artist  enough space to create.  I will dedicate 3-4 months to write while being in the office only 2 days per week.

Bill:  If a very talented artist says I can't stick to a schedule or a budget because of my creativity, what would you say?

Tyler:  I'd say, "It's nice to meet you.  Good luck with your struggles."  If you're a great artist you still need to respect other people's time.   If you go back to the root of who you were before you became a superstar you'll get over that.

Bill:  How do you foster creativity?

Tyler:  For me it's important to clear the noise.  The same thing is true for my prayer life.  I try not to just write a story but to leave people with a message.

Bill:  You have a large campus that looks like a city.  You have an employee who was so motivated and when I asked him how long he'd worked for you he said,"Six years and I hope I can work for him for the rest of my life."  How do you inspire that?

Tyler:  I was always the underdog so when I created this world in Atlanta I wanted to make it welcoming to everyone.  Sometimes I will pass over the most qualified and hire the person with the best attitude.

Bill:  I could feel that with your staff.   You really were not set up to succeed in life.  Your dad beat you, then your mom would take you to church.

Tyler:  I was born into this family.  My father was a functional alcoholic who married my mother when he was 21 and she was 16.  They had grown up with so much fear.  My father despised me because I was an artist.  My father would drink and start to fight with my mother and I would get beat while trying to protect her.  But every Sunday she would take me to church and be so lifted up and I said, "I want to know this God who makes my mother so happy."  She died in 2009 and that was very difficult but I know God doesn't make any mistake.  Without her I don't know where I'd be.  What she gave me has sustained me through everything and that's my faith in God.

Bill:  One of the best things I ever read about forgiveness came from Tyler Perry.  You said, "It takes a tremendous amount of energy to get through abuse but it takes just as much energy to forgive."

Tyler:  You can't just hit a switch and it goes away.  You give up the hope of change until you work through forgiveness.  The person who hurt you still has power over you until you forgive them.

Bill:  One of the characters that you created is Madea--this crusty, sassy wisdom figure.

Tyler:  Madea is based on my aunt.

Bill:  You created her and use her very adroitly to get messages across that most people don't see coming at them.

Tyler:  I wanted to do a play with a message like forgiveness and love.  One day I was on stage as Madea and things got really quiet as the audience was listening.  Very difficult subject matter can be put into a comedy.

Bill:  When I was preparing for this I watched all the Madea movies.  Then you also do another genre as well -- one called "Good Deeds" that talks about faithfulness in marriage and the socioeconomic divide.   In that film you're the owner of a large company and you interact with a lower-level employee.

Tyler:  Having lived in both social classes, I wanted to show the differences and not to judge someone who's going through hard times.

Bill:  Even as we're meeting there's a new round of racial tension in our country.  What's your take on that.  How do we find our way ahead.

Tyler:  It's not going to happen overnight.  Every generation gets a little better.  When I grew up and started to realize that people are just people I saw we're more alike than different.  We need to see we all have the same struggles and issues.  My hope is that this next generation will be different.  It is much better than it was.

Bill:  Another thing that might be tough to talk about is how many critics you have.  I think you have more than I do.  How do you deal with your critics?  Does it still sting?

Tyler:  I was so frustrated.  I asked staff not to put any critics in the front row.  At one show two critics gave opposite reviews of the same show so I realized it's a matter of personal opinion.  I'd rather focus on the 12 million people on Facebook who focus on the positive.  The Bible says "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" so I'll just let my enemies watch me eat.

Bill:  Let's talk about charities you support.  What drives your philanthropy?

Tyler:  I'm my mother's son.  She had a heart for giving and I believe to whom much is given much is required.  At first I had so much guilt about making money that I gave it all away.  Then I got over that and became more intentional about giving.

Bill:  As we start to wrap things up can we talk about church. We had a very interesting talk about this in your office.  You are a devoted follower of Christ but you have a tough time participating regularly in a local church.

Tyler:  Because of the level of money you make there's a level of expectation of giving and that's a complete turn-off to me.  I don't want to put myself in a position where I have to defend or push away so sometimes it's easier to stay home and watch online.  I wish as celebrities we could just go lie on the altar and there be no judgment.  I once took a famous person to church and she started to cry in church and it was reported she had a nervous breakdown.  But I'm not giving up on it.

Bill:  I would just say to pastors, ask your congregation to leave celebrities in peace.   One last question--because you are a Christian and have this incredibly powerful medium--30 years from now what kind of legacy do you hope to have left at the end of your career.

Tyler:  My aunt said people may forget what you said to them but they won't forget how you made them feel.  I hope 20 years from now someone will see one of my movies and be uplifted and feel good.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Ivan Satyavrata

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )  Ready to hear Ivan Satyavrata speak on

The Power Paradox

I want to thank you for your humble willingness to listen to voices from the majority world.  There is no institute on our planet as vitally connected as the church.  70% of India's 1.3 billion population is under the age of 35.

Can anything good come out of Calcutta?  Very little good is said about Calcutta in history.  Calcutta is an exciting place to live in.  Its people are beautiful.  Some visitors find the sights and sounds of people living on the street oppressive.  Others to their surprise soon fall in love with the city.

Some visitors ask, "How do you live with the burden of the need around you?"  Calcutta has 80 million people and 1/3rd of the world's poor.  To date just 1 in 1,000 call Jesus lord.

How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of powerlessness?

Power is neutral--neither good nor bad--it is simply the potential to move reality and make something happen.  Leaders manage power.  It's what they use to make things happen.  There is no such thing as leadership without power.

How should leaders manage the power that comes with it?

Paradox--a concept or reality that combines seemingly contradictory features
John 13:1-5 -- (washing of the disciples' feet) -- the power paradox is vividly on display here.  Jesus knows He has come from God and is returning to God but He assumes the role of a powerless slave.

A leader must be able to wield power, real power, in order to lead effectively.  She must, however, be willing to be made powerless.

The knowledge of God in Christ is the ultimate power.  How do I share the knowledge of truth without imposing power?  The power paradox causes us to uphold truth passionately while allowing others to dissent.

Knowledge power can fill us with intoxicating pride that gives us a high, blinds us to reality, and makes us a slave.  Jesus knew He had all things under His feet but He holds a scepter in one hand and a towel and basin in the other.

How am I stewarding my knowledge power?  When you go home tonight and look into your heart, ask yourself, "Am I holding the towel and basin as tightly as I hold the scepter of power?"

A leader's power lies in her ability to influence people.  Great leaders ask, "How can I use my power to make change today?"  Jesus refused to use power to manipulate people--even Judas.

II Samuel 23-- David was longing for water and two of his soldiers brought it to him.  He refused to drink it and poured it out as an offering to the Lord.  That's what made David such a great leader.  Great leaders refuse to use intimidation for control.   Every leader has people power.  How are you using it?  The greatest gift you can give to your followers is to create a safe place from which followers can rise to greater heights of achievement.

Kingdom Power -- How does Jesus respond to evil?  He confronts the forces of injustice but he lets evil infiltrate his band through Judas and instructs His followers to endure evil.  How do we apply this to all the injustice on our planet?

God's people pray "Thy Kingdom come,"  So what do we do?  We act.  We use the Kingdom power at our disposal to invade the darkness.  We dare not do otherwise.  On the other hand, we are patient and resolute in the face of the mystery of evil--when the godly prosper and the faithful suffer and prayers seem to go unanswered.

Those who work in God's name among the needy must embrace the power paradox to have a calm, sustaining grace.  I do not have to be a Christian "terminator" who singlehandedly wipes out evil.  I may feel powerless but then comes a moment of truth--an exploding realization--"therefore I will boast more gladly of my weakness; for when I am weak then I am strong."

The true secret of any great leader's power is this:  when you feel the weakest; that is when you are the STRONGEST.

The other part of this paradox is that the power we possess resides in jars of clay.  Leaders who finish well and leave a living legacy are those who remember their power comes from God and is to build up not to destroy.

Are you using your power to serve the poor and fight against evil?  Leaders who embrace the power paradox are a unique breed--having nothing yet possessing everything.  Weak champions.  Dependent conquerors.  Meek inheritors of the earth.

I ask all those within the sound of my voice to ask God to make us all just such leaders.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Erica Ariel Fox

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )  Erica Ariel Fox speaks on

Winning From Within

Negotiation is one of the most fundamental skills for leaders.  Most training deals with how to negotiate with other people.  I want to talk about negotiation with ourselves--how we get in our own way and miss out on some of life's most meaningful opportunities.

Have any of you ever made a plan and in the moment did something else?

Your performance gap is the distance between what you do at your best and what you actually do in real life practice.

As a leader you need to identify your gaps and work to close them.

One way to explore how to close this performance gap involves looking at yourself in a new way.  Most of us think of ourselves as singular but another way is to look at yourself as plural--Walt Whitman said, "I am large.  I contain multitudes."  Each one of us is more like an orchestra than a soloist.  I like to think of these multiple parts as inner negotiators.

The Big Four (this is your own inner top team)
The Dreamer (inner CEO)
The Thinker (inner CFO)
The Lover (inner VP of HR )
The Warrior (Your Inner COO)

The Dreamer--creates possibilities; sets strategic vision; senses a path forward; Gives direction -- look for the dream beneath the dream.  Is there a dream in me that I've left behind?  Is there a dream I've abandoned because it didn't happen in the specific way I imagined?

The Thinker--Clarifies Perspectives; Analyzes Data; Manages risk;  Considers Consequences -- Find some data about evaluating risk

The Lover--Cares about People; feels emotions; manages relationships; collaborates with others. -- Have a practice before you go into a tough meeting and call the name of someone you know and love into your heart.

The Warrior--Catalyzes Performance; Takes action; Reaches goals; Speaks hard truth-- Find some places where you're saying "yes" today and practice saying "no"

These four roles need to work together.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Joseph Grenny

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )  Joseph Grenny speaks on

Mastering the Art of Crucial Conversations --

The power of a group is the function of the purity of its motives.

I want to share a principle of leadership and of life that shapes your world.  If you consider yourself a leader, this will define you.

The most crucial conversation of my life took place on December 28, 2009.  I met Patrick when he was 12 years old.  He was a scout and I was a scout leader. He disappeared after a couple of years and one of Patrick's friends said he thought he was doing drugs.  Ten years later I opened the door to a bedraggled guy who I finally recognized as Patrick.  I brought him in and dropped him on the couch and he poured forth a story of addiction and prison time.  Then he said he wanted to turn his life around.  We made a plan and he got a job and started working.  Later I co-signed for a loan so he could get a truck then later he disappeared again.  A few months later my home was burglarized.  A few months later it was burglarized again and security cameras caught Patrick breaking in.  A few months later I saw him along the road and he got in my car. I took him back home and we began to talk.

Are there moments of disproportionate influence that dramatically change the outcome of a person or an organization?

We've found there are moments defined by three dimensions that have a huge influence:

1)  There is an issue that is very high stakes
2)  You come into these moments expecting opposing opinions
3)  You have strong emotions

Think of the name of someone about whom you've drawn a negative conclusion.    There's nothing wrong with having concerns with other people; the challenge is how we handle them.

Big Idea #1 -- The Principle of Crucial Conversations

Anytime you find yourself stuck, stop and ask;  "What's the crucial conversation we're either not holding or not holding well?"

If it's not possible to have fewer crucial conversations without having a meaningless life, then we need to learn have the conversations.

1)  You can talk it out
2)  You will act it out which will provoke behavior in response

The myth we believe from a young age:  You often have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.

Progress begins when we as leaders start to unwind that myth.  Your job as a leader is to monitor, lead, and measure the conversations.

Three crucial moments in churches:

1)  Performance problems with volunteers or staff
2)  Members who are struggling with sin or disconnecting from the church
3)  Concerns with pastors

Crucial conversations are either a pit or a path upward.  Crucial conversations can become a path to intimacy when we respectfully and candidly express our concerns.

The Crucial Difference:  Those in the top quartile raising these concerns are:
73% better new member growth
65% better staff strength
100% better in financial health

Identify the 2-3 most crucial conversations for your organization and measure progress.

The vital behavior that enables most any positive organizational outcome is CANDOR at moments of acute emotional and political risk.

Individual influence, teamwork, productivity, marriage success, diversity, quality, safety all depend on ability to manage crucial conversations.

Seven Crucial Skills
1.  Start with Heart
2.  Learn to Look
3.  Make it Safe
4.  Master My Stories

When you're in "that moment" what do you say first?
You have 2 tasks in the "hazardous half minute" -- If you do these 2 things there's a 90% chance you'll be heard.

Ingredients of Safety
Mutual Purpose -- The Entrance Condition -- You know that I care about your goals.
Mutual Respect--The Continuance Condition--You know that I care about you.

Candor is Never the Problem -- People NEVER become defensive about what you're saying.  People become defensive because of what they think is your intent.

The myth that we can't both tell the truth and keep a friend is at the heart of our problem with having the crucial conversations.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- A Grander Vision

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at )  Ready to hear about "A Grander Vision" from Don Flow, Allen Catherine Kagina, and Wilfredo De Jesus --

Bill Hybels:  All my life I've been intrigued by people who live at a higher level than their peers.  I call this the "Grander Vision".  For the last two decades I've watched Willow people try to integrate their faith into their work world.  Some of what I've seen isn't pretty.  Many simply give up trying--they have their Sunday faith, their private faith--but don't integrate it into everyday life.

In this session you will hear from 3 leaders who did not give up on the Grander Vision.  They will tell you this is not easy but challenge us to keep trying.

Don Flow --
I've known Bill for nearly 30 years and I thank him for conversations we had on the critical importance of leaders sustaining a deep intimacy with Christ.

How does your faith affect every aspect of your business? -- Work is a place that Chist has called me to--to exercise faith, to bring hope, to create a culture that participates in the redemptive work of Christ in the world-

--through prayer
--through leadership
--through the company culture
--how we relate to customers

My day begins with prayer for our company to be a place that's a signpost for the Word of God.  I pray for specific people at work, to enter into their lives and to pray for their lives.  If I don't start my day like that, I don't have the ability to live love and bring hope

Love should animate Christian leaders.  I need to learn to share the lives of the people I lead.  There's a direct correlation with my intimacy in Christ and my intimacy with others.

I'm called to be a person of truth and grace and not self-seeking.  The company will not be more truthful than I am or more graceful than I am.  This is a high calling and I fail every day but we live under the grace of Christ.

I'm responsible for the culture of my company.  It can be toxic or life-enhancing.

Covenant with our customers -- always tell the truth, do the right thing, keep our promises  (do not take advantage of customers and intentionally limit our profit on car sales)
Community with one another--creating a culture that's inclusive and see each as a member of the body--fitness centers; $3000 college tuition per year per child; flex time;  personal emergency grants to employees; celebrate lives of employees
Commitment to our community--investing in each area of the community; each dealership takes on projects in their communities;  employees who volunteer in the community are paid for their time

What does a business look like in the fullest sense?  -- How much of the curse can be reversed?

We were given a calling in the world--the power to organize all of creation.  Without the fall every person's gifts would have been utilized for the common good.  The world is not what it was supposed to be but the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ changed everything.  It's the role of the church to help raise our visions back.

We are called to be people who live by the vision of reweaving the broken world.  We're to do so in the manner of Jesus.

Employees evaluated on the acronym SERVE

Show Respect
Earn Trust
Reach for Perfection
Value Input
Energize Others

Allen Catherine Kagina--

Most of you have paid your taxes--maybe grudgingly.  I work for the Uganda Revenue Authority and God has done incredible things there.

In 2013 Africa was the world's fastest growing continent.
World Bank expects most African countries will reach middle income status by 2025
An estimated 58% of people in the region were living on less than $2 per day in 2000 but poverty rate is declining
Why is a continent that seems to be doing so well also so poor? -- corruption

My story is the story of how God changed one of the most corrupt institutions in Uganda.  Before 2004 the police and the revenue authority fought for #1 and #2 as the most corrupt.  In 2004 the job I now hold became vacant and I was naive enough to believe God could change anything.  My friends and I had been praying God would change this organization.  I was angry that nothing was happening.  But I believe when you bring God in there can be change.

We began reform looking at two things--

We decided to ask all employees to apply again for their jobs.  We terminated all employees and gave them two months' notice to reapply.  Through six months of interviews they rehired and became a cleaner and more competent organization.  Things like this have to happen if you want to deal with corruption.

We went to the taxpayers and asked what kind of service they wanted.  We asked to serve the taxpayers.  We built online systems for paying taxes and also funded tax education so people would understand their rights.  We then rebranded--cut off old logos and colors and then went into the community to do service.  We began to build trust among the people.

Over the years God has invaded the tax authority and that has resulted in revenue growth of 317%.  God has invested so much in Africa.  We have so many resources.  We just need to get the people to do the right thing.

People who have worked with us have been recruited to head large companies and other civic authorities.

This was always God's idea because He wanted us to serve the people of Uganda and wanted the people and communities to be developed.  I am so convinced that if we will invite God into the public arena and into our churches that God will take over and we'll begin to see better societies.

Wilfredo De Jesus--  (My daughter attended Wilfredo's church in Chicago and we enjoyed worshiping there a number of times.)

In the year 2002 I was approached by the police commander of Chicago because of the prostitution problem.  The church began by praying.  We cannot allow prayer to be a crutch not to do anything.  I told my wife that 600 women were arrested for prostitution and I feel God wants us to buy a farm.

Went to the church and said, "Somebody has a farm.  Give it up!"  After 8 months a woman came to me and said her relative who had passed away had a farm.  The church bought it and 500 women have been rescued from prostitution and human trafficking.

You have to trust God to meet all your needs.  Once the condition of your community is revealed to you, you must move to action.  Ezekiel 22:30 -- Who will stand in the gap? No one was found.

Gaps exist all over in our communities.  God is still asking who will stand in the gap.  As pastors and lay leaders we must engage our community.  Not only those who come to your church but your entire community.

How do I see the entire community?  Do what Jesus did.  Sit with the lost.  Converse with the lost.  Jesus went toward the lost.

Wilfredo told a worker to "Go hire five prostitutes."  He paid them all and then told them "I want you to come with me."  For me what's sacred is the message not the method.  I took the five women into the church and we had linens and candles and roses and for an hour we served them and told them about Jesus.  At the end, through tears, they returned the money.  Some of those women are involved in ministry now.

We must not be afraid to take our faith into our community.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Reminder of Nehemiah who asked the question, "How's Jerusalem?"  If you're not going to do anything about the answer, then don't ask.  Nehemiah knew he had to do something--with revelation comes responsibility.  Here's what Nehemiah did

1)  He prayed -- he wept and cried for the people;  80% of the world's population lives on $10 a day--there's a gap
2)  He planned -- planning is crucial.  You've got to write it down.  How many of us have been in the huddle for five years.  When is it we're going to do what God has called us to do.  We've gotta get out of the huddle.
3) He proceeded --You have to be willing to sacrifice.  (Wilfredo asked the Mayor of Chicago for two ambulances to take to Dominican Republic.  He was given them!)
4)  He persuaded -- The moment you decide to stand in the gap there will always be persecution.  Nehemiah was a lay person.  This is the season to release our lay people into the gaps in our community to engage the problems.

Nehemiah asked, "How is Jerusalem?"  Ask that in your community today.  That question is relevant regardless of where you live.

Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite all the obstacles; cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. --Martin Luther King

Bill Hybels:  There's a reason God made you.  There's a reason He wired you the way you are.  Something important in this world will be left undone unless you put your hand to it.  There's a Grander Vision somewhere in the world with your name on it.  Someday you will say, "I was born to do this."

"This is the place where my deep gladness meets the world's great need"--Fredrick Buechner

Are you living out the Grander Vision that God has designed for you?  Many of you are--you understand your piece in His greater story.  However, I would guess that a large percentage of you still wander around every day and wonder, "Is this all there is?"  "Will my life ever be used for a higher purpose?"

Look at Ephesians 2:10 one more time.  "We ARE God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The satisfaction you're looking for is never going to come through self-gratification.  Over time, find God's bidding for your life.  Do it by faith.  Serve people joyfully and indiscriminately and the satisfaction your heart yearns for will follow that.  I bet the farm of my life on this and it's true.

For some of you, safety still matters too much.  Some of you are bankrupt when it comes to satisfaction.  It's been so long since you felt it you even wonder if it could be felt.  God loves you and He didn't mean for you to feel bankrupt.  There's a life for you to live and it's truly life.  God made you on purpose for a purpose and when you get in synch with that purpose you will feel it to your toes.

There's not an accidental human being in the mind of God.  You were created for a Grander Vision.  How do I find it?  It's you putting your hand in God's hand and taking a step of faith to see if that's the direction God wants you to go.  You try out various purposes and take that step by step walk of faith and it unfolds.  But you must start.  You must take the step.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Patrick Lencioni

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at ) -- Patrick Lencioni --

 The Most Dangerous Mistakes Leaders Make

Sometimes in leadership we're looking for "what's the key?"  We make a big deal about how we stand or how we look  I want to look at what are the foundational things we do that cause problems for leaders.  These are things that hurt people.

3 most dangerous mistakes (I have made them all.)

Let me tell you a story about a CEO I worked with.  He was a good, humble CEO.  The company was at a billion dollars and couldn't get beyond it so they hired a new CEO.  He asked why real estate costs were so high and then he realized people were always moving offices.  He eliminated office moves.  Two weeks later there was a construction crew in the lobby tearing down the wall of the conference room and moving it to the east.  They found out it was because the new CEO wanted the room to be big enough for his new office furniture.  We all are susceptible to this--

1)  Becoming a leader for the wrong reasons -- many of us are motivated by notoriety, fame, etc.  We tell graduates "Be a leader.  change the world."  We shouldn't tell everyone to be a leader.  Many want just to be known as a leader for prestige.  You should become a leader because you want to sacrifice yourself for the good of others even if you don't know if there will be a return on that investment.   When you choose leadership for the wrong reasons you lose passion and stop caring for the people you are supposed to lead.  If we are doing it for ourselves it's going to leave a trail of tears behind.  ( In the example above, the employees went from being leaders to cynics. )

I'm tired of hearing about "servant leadership" because I don't think there is any other kind.   When people calculate the Return On Investment, it's just economics.

We don't need to look far in the Bible for selfless leadership.  Imagine Peter--was he a successful leader?  He was crucified upside down; suffered constantly; most people thought he was a fool.  The only payoff for leadership is eternal.

Another CEO I worked with was famous, brilliant, and intimidating and no one ever challenged him.  The head of HR said you need to do something because no one is talking to you.  They did a 360 survey which he shared with no one.  The head of HR told him he needed to share the results.  He shared the results at a meeting and all the employees told him only what he wanted to hear.  That CEO was making the second major mistake of leadership

2)  Failing to embrace vulnerability -- The CEO in the example above should have admitted to his mistakes and told his team he would try to improve.    I don't think you can be too vulnerable.  People have a right to expect us to be competent but they don't expect us to be perfect.

What does it mean to be a vulnerable leader?  Tell people you're sorry, ask them to help you, admit when you don't know.

In the above example the entire economy of a state was undermined because the leader was not vulnerable.

3)  Making leadership too important -- Most of the time when we're thinking about leadership we're thinking about work.  If we make it too important, that means our identity can get wrapped up in being a leader instead of a spouse, a child of God, a parent, etc.   Our primary vocations may be ignored.  We need to go to our families, our spouses and ask, "Do you think my job and my employees are more important than you?"  The cost of failing in those relationships is so great.  At the end of my life I don't want my employees to come around my bed and say what a great manager I was.  We get more feedback at work sometimes and that makes us put more effort there.

It's all about PRIDE--

Pride is what all of these dangers have in common.  Jesus introduced humility as a virtue and in doing that He perfected leadership.  We will never be done with working against pride.   Do I think my success as a leader is about me doing things well?

My success is being docile to the will of God.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Bryan Loritts

Note:  It's meaningful for me to hear Bryan Loritts because the church I attended most of my life supported Bryan's father, Crawford Loritts, from the time he started in ministry.  I remember Bryan growing up and am eager to hear him speak about

Instigating Change Through Personal Sacrifice

I am thrilled to come and share thoughts on leadership.  I am an African-American preacher and we like to open our sermons by thanking everybody.  I was preaching in a North Carolina church and the pastor said, "Brother, we are a Spirit-led church.  Time means nothing. .....But the people leave at twelve."

The insightful words Jesus said before He went to the cross about how His organization is to be run.

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus does not want His church to be monopolized by the affluent.  He wants it to be an inclusive organization that includes "the least of these."

William Wilberforce -- I encourage you to drink deeply from the life of this leader.  At age 21, he was at a party with William Pitt and in the middle of this party they decided to run for parliament.  William Wilberforce ran, won the seat, and would never again lose that seat.  At age 25 he experienced the "train wreck of the gospel" and came to understand the love of God and asked Him into his life.

Now in 1787 at the height of slavery in England, Wilberforce decides to quit parliament and become a pastor.  Then his mentor John Newton, who had once been involved in slave trade himself, said to him, "It is hoped and believed, young William, that the Lord has raised you up for the good of the nation."  William then stayed at parliament and on Christmas Eve gave a six hour address citing his goal as the abolition of slavery.

William Wilberforce believed it in his gut.  He didn't ascribe to a church that catered to the affluent.

When we get to heaven we will see William Wilberforce because he understood the blessings of God were not to be hoarded.  Our vision as leaders has got to be more than the stuff that will perish.  Jesus says to His leaders, if you do not share the goods of this world with people in need, you will enter into eternal punishment.  He is not preaching salvation by works.  God does not give the ten commandments first and then open the Red Sea. He opened the Red Sea first.  His laws are never "have to" but "get to".

Rom. 5:8 "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."   I will never be able to work and do enough good things.

The Matthew text deals not with the root of salvation but the fruit of salvation.

I prayed to lead a multi-ethnic church.  This comes from Jesus' command to "love the world."  I wanted to give a piece of heaven on earth.  Started with 26 people (I was the only piece of chocolate in the room.)

From Genesis to Revelation there are over 2,350 verses that talk about God's heart for the orphan, alien, widow, and the poor.  You can't claim to have God's heart and do nothing for the least of these.

God's welfare policy was different than the US policy.  Let the poor come and work your field.   The 2014 principle is that we leave margin to spontaneously and generously give to the least of these.

John Wesley at age 18 or 19 looked at his finances and decided what he needed to live on and then gave everything else away.  One year he made 1500 pounds from the sale of his book.  He still lived on only 28 pounds and gave the rest away.  John Wesley wrestled with the question of "enough".  How much is enough?  How much is enough house?  How much is enough purses?  How much are enough golf clubs?

Our church is trying to model this.  We started our church with 26 people chasing the dream of inclusivity.  Now we have four services.  I got a nice raise and my wife and I looked at each other and said, "enough." and gave the rest away.  That is what brings joy.

Leaders, would you look around you and at least consider the question of "What is enough?"  Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself.

I have diamond status with Delta which means if there's ever an empty seat in first class I get it.  My wife has no status.  So I've learned when I am traveling with my wife I get the upgrade but I sit next to my wife and ask the person who was to be in my seat to sit in my seat in first class.   I still have my status but I give it up.  That's what Jesus did--He came and died so we could get the upgrade back to heaven.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Susan Cain

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at ) --  Susan Cain speaks:

Quiet:  Challenging the Extrovert Ideal

I'm here because I want to tell you a story of how this quiet revolution has begun.  I went to summer camp at age 9 and my mother packed me a suitcase of books.  Then I got there and the counselor taught us a cheer r-o-w-d-i-e "that's the way to be rowdy" -- And I wondered why we had to do this cheer and spell this word incorrectly.  But I did the cheer and learned to look rowdy.  I was always trying to prove I was an extroverted person and I've come to believe it was a really big mistake.  It's a mistake we're making as a culture.

One half to one third of the population is introverted.  That seems surprising but it's because introverts get into the habit of acting like extroverts.  We need to learn to harnass the power of introverts.

Break up into groups of four and share a story from your childhood that illustrates you.  (I'm just kidding)  But how are you feeling as you hear this assignment?  This is how introverts feel often.

Introverts would rather do their own individual work and then come back and share with the group.

You've probably heard that introverts recharge by being on their own and extroverts recharge by being social.  How do you feel after being at a party for two hours?  That is an indication of how you are.

Introverts are more sensitive to stimulation than extroverts and can't handle as much.  Extroverts need more stimulation.  This can be mapped as early as four days after birth.

In one famous study math problems were given to extroverts and introverts to solve.  The introverts did better with softer noise and the extroverts with louder noise.  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all environment.  People need to be able to choose their level of stimulation to do their best work.

Asian cultures may value introversion more highly.  In Confucianism there is the idea of yin and yang that is important between introverts and extroverts.

Implications for creativity--

--the most creative people are a blend of extroversion and introversion.  They need to be able to express their ideas but may need solitude for creativity.  Psychologists have shown that brainstorming is not advantageous for developing new ideas.

We are such social creatures that we end up being unconscious conformists.

What do we do to get the best ideas?
--Stop the madness for constant group work (suggest a hybrid process where people go by themselves to think and then come back to share with the group and stop periodically to let people think and process.  Make sure ALL share their ideas)
--Forget networking.  Focus on service.
--Restore quiet to our culture

church culture -- I talked to introverted church members who thought they were connected to God and then saw others in the church who seemed to connect with God in a more passionate manner and began to think they were less pleasing to God because they had more restraint.    Remember Elijah who heard God in a still, small voice?  We need to invite that quiet in.

What makes a "natural" leader?  What was Jesus' main personality trait? -- most when asked think that Jesus was an extrovert.  The perception is you must be extroverted to be a leader.

Jim Collins looked at the 11 top performing companies and he found every one of them was led by a level 5 leader and had 2 characteristics -- Very passionate about their companies but also described as shy, unassuming, low-key

How do we explain that? -- Many introverts get very passionate about a few things in their lives.  Many don't seek leadership for its own sake but in the course of their passions end up becoming leaders.

CEO of Campbell Soup -- shy, introverted.  During his 10 years he wrote 30,000 letters to employees.  Extroverted leader might use a different method.

US Army General -- always sequesters himself before making a decision

Gandhi -- so shy as a child he would run home from school so he didn't need to socialize.  Passionate about his cause

--Groom an "unlikely" leader
--Find your complement (no one is good at everything)
--Find a role model

"My role model is my grandfather," Susan says.  He was a pastor who gave gentle tapestries of sermons but had trouble making eye contact with his congregation.  When he passed away at age 94 the police had to close the streets to accommodate the throngs of mourners.

After writing the book I began to get thousands of letters so I started an organization called Quiet Revolution.  They are working on a quiet TV series to interview famous introverts.  They have a Quiet Leadership Institute to train companies how to harnass the ideas of introverts.

Public speaking has been terrifying for me but it is getting better.  I'm asking you all to take a step inward for a moment.  I want to ask you now, "What's inside your suitcase that you metaphorically carry around inside you?"  Whatever it is I hope you'll take these things out and grace them with your energy and your joy.

As introverts you have the tendency to guard your suitcase but occasionally take them out for all the world to see.

I wish you all the best of possible journeys and may you all have the courage to speak softly.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Jeffrey Immelt

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at ) --  Jeffrey Immelt on "Positioning Your Organization for the Future"

Interviewed by Bill Hybels --

Bill:  Jeff, you've been in the middle of one of the biggest acquisitions of your career and you've been flying back and forth to France.  How/when do you empower others to make decisions.

Jeff:  That's a good question.  Teams worked on this strategically.  When's it's the most important thing the company is working on you don't delegate it.  You have the experience and you want to protect your team.  You have to be hands-on at times like that.  We worked together as a team.

Bill:  I read the speech you gave to the French Parliament.  Did you write that speech?

Jeff:  I wrote most of it.

Bill:  You should be a pastor

Jeff:  I said sink or swim, I am going to do this myself.  No job has ever been beneath me.  You've gotta be involved.

Bill:  I was told that you're the purest natural leader this person has ever seen.  When did you become aware you were a leader.

Jeff:  "Thanks Mom!"  I don't think anyone ever thinks of themself that way.  I was an athlete and learned great skills.  From the earliest age I always wanted to do my best and I always tried to demonstrate self-confidence.  My parents taught me not to be afraid.

Bill:  After studies at Dartmouth and Harvard you went to GE.  Did you have a plan when you first joined the company did you have a plan to differentiate yourself.

Jeff:  I think anyone who plans to become CEO is a little weird.  I thought I would learn to be a business person and I got lucky.  I loved the people I worked with and for me it was always about the work--never the career.  It was about creating things.  In a company like GE you can create the future.  Your peers ultimately decide how far you go.

Bill:  As your career was advancing Jack Welch assigned you a terrible job to fix a plant in Kentucky.

Jeff:  I was 32 years old and it gave me the confidence to do what I do today.  Be around a crisis early in your career to shape your leadership.  These three years from age 32-35 really shaped me.  I made everyone, including me, learn how to fix a compressor.

Bill:  You eventually were chosen to be the new CEO of GE.  You may have had the shortest CEO honeymoon in corporate history.  How long were you in this position when 911 happened?

Jeff:  I started on Friday 9/07 and 911 happened the next Tuesday.  We live in a more volatile time today.  When you turn on the news today in 30 minutes you're bummed out.  We're going to live in this time for a while.  People are not going to be given the luxury to go backwards.  I think the best leaders go forward--keep the company safe but go forward.  I've never seen a time when the value of leadership is more important.

Bill:  I read about places where leadership is taught.  GE has a facility for a leadership development university--probably the most famous I've heard of.  Why is that so important to GE?  Why do you put so much time into that?

Jeff:  I lead a big company and you need to have things that drive the oneness of the company so we invest about a billion dollars a year in leadership development.  The campus has been around for 50 years.  Certain values of leadership don't change but you also have to constantly be tuning up your leadership.  We expect our leaders to go to train and teach.  I teach twice a month.  It takes away all the layers as I get realtime feedback.   It's a strategic imperative for the company but also drives the culture of oneness of the company.

Bill:  How do you feel when you invest in an employee and then they resign?

Jeff:  To me it's deeply personal.  We train people because we want them to be self-confident.  I don't want people to work at GE out of fear--let's come to work because I love what I do.  It's my job to make sure they are enjoying what they do.

Bill:  Jack Welch said when someone left the company he wanted to stay in touch with them.

Jeff:  He did after a certain period.  I think it's good you have a change in leadership.  We're not a perfect company but GE is an institution;  it's not about an individual.  There's a camaraderie that exists because of that.

Bill:  When you see _______ quality -- what makes you want to promote them? And what turns you off?

Jeff:  The difference is the willingness to stand apart and buck the system.  How'd I become CEO?  I never took "no" for an answer.   You want someone who questions authority and promotes change.  We bring the top 35 people together once a quarter and I give them a vision  "Let's do it my way".  You have to be willing to stand apart.  Excuses and lack of accountability turn me off.  We don't expect people to have perfect careers.  We expect them to learn from mistakes and get better.

Bill:  Hardest person you ever had to fire?

Jeff:  I had a person who worked for me as CEO but there was something that was missing about how he connected with the team.

Bill:  I am fascinated by this because some years back I had to make a tough leadership call.  My advisors asked if the person was meeting expectations, had high integrity, godly?  Yes to all these.  But the person is not connecting with his staff or with the team.

Jeff:  I said the same thing.  And I was right.  You're in the business of giving people confidence.  You can give negative feedback but want to do it in the tapestry of making them self confident.

Bill:  You've made a big deal for the value of diversity in GE.  How did that value develop in you and how do you foster is?

Jeff:  If you believe in talent and meritocracy you must believe in diversity.  More than half our employees live outside the US.   If people don't see diversity then it's code that you don't care about people.

Bill:  About political diversity -- When President Obama called to ask you to lead in getting more jobs in America--how did that happen?

Jeff:  I'm center right and the president wanted to form a council on job preparedness.  I grew up in Cincinnati, OH and my parents watch Fox every night.  The four of us who did this really wanted to help.  I'm proud of the work we did and I'm glad we did it.  We really wanted to make a difference.  We're a global enterprise but we're proud to be an American company.

Bill:  You talk a lot about simplification.  Can you explain that?

Jeff:  Institutions are all searching in this global world for new ways to run institutions.  Lately I wasn't sensing the joy in work.  I was spending a fair amount of time in Silicon Valley.  About 18 months ago we started on this culture of simplification based on:
--less management; smaller headquarters
--marketplace rules
--test and learn
--network and transparence
I respect everyone who wants to be a public servant but the system is antiquated.  Every good institution is trying to find a way to govern itself in a different time.

Bill:  You will need to create a succession plan.  How will yours be different from the one you were subjected to?

Jeff:  The board and I do this as a team.  I think it shouldn't be quite as public.  There are things that don't need to be in the public view that can be done more naturally.

Bill:  So your plan will be more private?  Will it be as long?

Jeff:  It will be more private (laughter)

Bill:  You refused to take a bonus your board offered you.  Did you not need the money?

Jeff:  It's all personal.  It has to be about what I think is right.  I felt this was a way to be accountable for what was happening in the economy and the company at that time.  The constituency you play to the most is not the media--it's your own team.  I said to my team, "Over time you're going to question my decisions but you're not going to question my intentions."

Bill:  I tried to dig up some dirt and the worse thing I could find is you work 80 hour weeks and you only take 12 days off a year.

Jeff:  I love work.  I have a great family.  I have one company, one wife, one daughter.  My dad worked for GE so I know the power of a GE job.  When you walk through a factory people love what they do.  The one thing we can't guarantee is outcomes but we can look everybody in the eye and say we can guarantee process.  No one will ever work harder than GE works.  Everyone from the top of the company down is going to work hard on your behalf.

Bill:  One last question--your wife is a little bit more regular in her church attendance than you are.  If you show up at a church after working an 80 hour week what would you like to experience?

Jeff:  In a big leadership job you're "on" all the time.  After a few years in leadership I started saying less because people hung on my words.  So you need time to regenerate.  Maybe a couple of hours a week is all you need so you can do it again.  The ability to sit for an hour and be at peace and listen to somebody else talk is priceless.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Carly Fiorina


(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at ) --  Carly Fiorina speaks on

Defining Leadership

Before I begin my talk I want to tell you about myself.  All of us learn life's lessons from living life.  When I was 8 years old my mother was my Sunday school teacher and my mother gave me a plaque that said, "What you are is God's gift to you; what you make of yourself is your gift to God."  I did not feel gifted.   I went to work out of college as a secretary and the business owners came to me and asked if I wanted to learn about the company.  They saw possibilities in me that I didn't see in myself.  I later became the head of Hewlett-Packard and now serve on the board of organizations that help give a hand up to those who need .  I have seen the look in a child's eyes when they get a brand new backpack full of stuff because it isn't 'stuff' to them.  I've had triumphs and tragedies in my life and I always knew I was not alone.  I've learned a few basic things--

--leadership is the same no matter what the context is
--everyone has potential and more potential than most of us realize--human potential is the only limitless resource we have in this world.  Why do so many fail to reach their potential?  Some don't have a chance because of sujugation or lack of tools or opportunity or because they lost faith in themselves, others, or God.

Some things that crush potential:  fear; bureaucracy (rules-based, process-driven organization)--bureaucracies forget who they are intended to serve

What things unlock potential?--leadership;  The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.

What leadership is NOT:

--It is not management-- management is the production of acceptable results within known constraints and conditions;  a good manager can be a leader but management and leadership are not the same;   a leader says "I am going to change these conditions."  Leadership is about changing the order of things.

--It is not necessarily the person in the corner office with a title -- anyone who wants to move persons from here to there by changing the order is a leader

examples:  Martin Luther King who changed the face of the nation but started as a pastor;  Nelson Mandela -- was not a leader because he became president; he became president because he was a leader.  He led as a prisoner while in jail.
Jesus -- symbol of powerlessness as a baby in a manger -- a nobody who recruited other nobodies;  He knew the potential of the poor
You--why are you here?  because a young man several decades ago started a ministry with the view of unlocking the potential of others.

Leadership is not about a big budget -- it's about unlocking the potential in others.

What do leaders do?--

Leadership Framework --

--Strategy; goals; vision (Where are we going and why are we going there?)

--Organization; team; process (Who is on the team?  What processes are important?)

--Metrics; results (How do we measure progress?  How do we reward success?  What gets measured is what gets done.)

--Culture Behavior (What's it like to work around here?  Ethics?--the leader has to set the tone and model the behavior)

Set the frame and set them free.  Let the people under you reach their potential.

20/20 rule -- When people embark on a leadership journey remember -- 20% of most people in an organization are change warriors -- identify, harness, and enlist those warriors;  20% of people are "hell no, I won't go" people who refuse to change--identify them and resolve because they are the source of resistance.  The other 60% are waiting skeptics and change won't happen unless that 60% get engaged and move.

Everyone has more potential than they realize.  Everyone has the capacity to lead.  Leaders are made, not born.  Leadership is changing the order of things.  Leadership is unlocking the potential of others.

Leadership is a profoundly human gift available to all.  All of us have the potential to make a positive difference, to change the order, to unlock the potential of others.

True leadership requires faith.  A love of God makes leadership easier.  Faith gives us the gift of humility and true leadership requires understanding it is not "about you" but about others and having a servant heart.  Faith gives us the gift of optimism--the leader must know things can be better.

The most important gift is to have faith in others.  You must know people can and will rise to the occasion and will use their potential to make a positive difference.

Faith teaches us that all of us are gifted by God and that knowledge propels a leader.

Leadership is a choice.  It can be exhausting but there is a look that people get in their eyes when their potential has been unlocked and that look is the same everywhere in the world and that look is all the repayment a leader needs.

Choose to lead.  Choose to change the order of things.  Choose to fulfill your own potential and choose to unlock the potential of others.

What we are is God's gift to us;  what we make of ourselves is our gift to God.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Bill Hybels

(Here at the 2014 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit to get some leadership training to help with my job as a volunteer area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child )-- Bill Hybels opens the summit speaking on "Hard Fought Leadership Lessons"....

Everything that matters in this world rises and falls on leadership.  If you care about anything in your community, you'd better care about leadership.  With that premise established, I launched into the first lecture at the first Global Leadership Summit.

World peace rises and falls on leadership as does the eradication of poverty.  As does the raising of kids and grandkids.  I am moved that people around the world are getting this and taking bold steps to better their leadership.  There is so much at stake today.

One of the supreme values of the leadership summit is humility--each of us declaring at the outset we have so much more to learn about influence.  We must cultivate the capacity to learn from a kaleidoscope of leaders.  Pastors can learn from business leaders and business leaders can learn from pastors.  The religious can learn from those who consider themselves less so.

Hard Fought Leadership Lessons--

Some leadership lessons come at very great expense.

First Lesson -- T or F -- All leadership is intently spiritual (TRUE) -- Remember how responses of a negative boss affected your spirit.  Your spirit cannot survive under negative leadership.

Leaders are visionaries and paint pictures that produce passion in other people.  Then comes the adrenaline rush of progress and the vision begins to consume us.  It becomes our identity and affirms our self worth but the condition of our team may fall to second import as we become obsessed with the thrill of the vision.

Often leaders with the highest passion have the lowest level of awareness of the spirit of their team.  The leader sacrifices so deeply for vision achievement that they feel no one else on the team cares as much as they do.  This is crazy-making to a leader.

Once the leader looks at the team through the "they don't care" lens they feel they don't need to be as care-ful for the hearts of the team members.  They feel the team members are expendable or exchangeable.  None of this is discussed openly but everybody starts to feel it.

An employee survey was taken at Willow 7 years ago--the results came and some were positive comments but some sensed a disconnect between them and the senior leaders.  One comment cut me to the core of my being, "I love my church with all my heart but I feel like a grunt."

What God treasures most in this world is people and one of my people felt like a grunt.  I fell to my knees and wept and said 'these things are going to change.' I read the comment at a staff meeting the next day and they were as crushed and agreed things would change and they would transform their culture.

It took me so long to learn this and so many people paid the price of my dim-wittedness along the way.  Don't get so addicted to vision achievement that the people around you feel replaceable or exchangeable or like grunts.

What practical steps are required to set the spirit of your team on fire?  Five key commitments--

1)  Used an outside firm to do a survey and interpret the results

2)  Leader and executive team really owned this change (Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be)

3)  Got serious about training everyone on the staff who manages people  (it should be illegal to allow some people to manage other people)  People join organizations; they leave managers.  You will never reach your culture's full vitality potential until every person in your culture leads and loves well

4)  Raise the level of candor in performance reviews.  Jack Welch said, "The kindest form of management is the truth."  Use the words 'start', 'stop', and 'continue'.   (for example--if meetings need improvement--use the 3 M plan for meetings -- Move ahead; Modify; Motivate before the meeting ends--inspire them)  (example;  "Lisa, continue calling the best out of people."  "Paul, your team knows you pray for them; continue leading like that"--the main point is specificity so employees know exactly how to improve

5)  Ruthless commitment to resolving relational conflict regardless of how scary it feels.  "What if we all looked at conflict as a chance to improve relationships?"  from the book 'Reconcile' by ?Ledereck?

Chilling statistics--in the average Christian organization only 54% of employees are truly engaged in their work;  in the US corporate world only 30% engaged in their work; internationally the rate is 1/2 that;  Willow Creek showed 81% are highly engaged but it's heartbreaking that 19% feel either underchallenged or disconnected.  I won't be satisfied until 100% of our staff want to come to work every day.

Second Lesson -- T or F  Great leadership is by definition relentlessly developmental (TRUE)   Many give up on leadership development because they don't know how.  Bob Eichinger? (leadership guru)  5 ways to develop leaders--

--put them in a challenging job
--assign them to a short-term task force
--offer feedback
--provide coaching
--provide courses and seminars

Assigning people to short-term task forces allow you to test drive a leader's ability.  5 criteria-

--success or failure must both be possible
--emerging leader must be in authority
--must work with a broad group of people
--real pressures and a real deadline
--must be evaluated by a senior leader

How resourceful they are is crucial.  Resourcefulness is the greatest tool for a leader.

I was best prepared for leadership by a dad who fostered resourcefulness.  I was sent on an impromptu ski trip by myself as an eleven-year-old.  I had no idea where Colorado even was and my dad said, "Figure it out."  Then my dad said, "Figure it out and don't call me."   Admittedly my dad's approach was extreme and it wasn't nurturing enough but to this day I benefit from his mission to make me resourceful.

You need to know what an emerging leader will do when they don't know what to do.  No senior leader can know enough right now to figure out what to do when thrust into a big role.  Resourcefulness is key.

When is the last time you took the time to assign an emerging leader to a task force test?  Some young leaders have amazing resourcefulness that you can only discern by giving them task force tests.

Third Lesson --  Finding and developing leaders with a legacy mindset

two kinds of shepherds --

 1) hirelings (will not risk anything for the sheep and will leave when something better comes along)

2)  owner shepherd (actually care about the sheep; have a long-term view; will lay down life for the sheep)

Average tenure for a Fortune 500 CEO is 4.5 years;  In faith-based charities it is increasingly common to see 'hirelings' -- quality organizations cannot be built on the shoulders of hirelings.  Need to discern between short-term ladder climbers and legacy leaders

Legacy leaders will ride out rough patches; willing to address long-term economic viability because they are working for the grander vision; run on a higher-quality fuel source (serving God or wanting to leave a legacy)  example--Nelson Mandela was a legacy leader who even in his final years committed himself to leaving a legacy through leadership in his country.

Ladder-climbers--fueled by personal ambition

The Bible makes it clear--we get one shot at life.  Your gravestone will have a birth date and an end date and your life will be represented by the dash in between.  You can lead small and safe or selfishly.  You can choose to be a hireling your whole life.  Or you can be an owner type who leaves a legacy behind when you're done with the dash.  You don't drift into becoming a legacy leader.  The drift is always toward safety and comfort.  Every legacy leader comes to a decision to pursue a grander vision and never looks back.  Have you reached that point in your life yet?  Or can you really just talk a good game?  This is the only life you get to live out.  Don't go to your grave without tasting life that is truly life; a life that leaves something beautiful behind.

Have you given any real thought to what your legacy will be?  What of beauty will you leave behind when your life is done?  We've been praying that God will speak with you and rock your life and when God whispers to you, I pray you wil pay attention and do what he asks you to do.

Fourth Lesson -- Endurance

The grander the vision the greater the price tag.  The single greatest mission was Jesus' redemption that required the spilling of His blood.  Don't be surprised at the cost of being a legacy leader.  You need to develop strategies to endure.  May need more times of solitude to recharge.  It's hard to hear God unless you lower the ambient noise of your life.

Tells story of a woman who tried to row across the Atlantic Ocean and had been alone for 83 days.  She reached for her radio and said, "Help" (have you ever felt that exhausted, discouraged--on the brink of hopelessness)  Imagine her surprise when an 1100 foot ocean liner shows up and stops for her.  They gave her provisions and cheered for her.  She probably thought, "All I did was ask for help and God sent the Queen Mary II to help me."  -- Some of you are exhausted and you need to radio for help.  Humble yourself.  Look toward heaven and say, "God help me."

We have a transcendently powerful God who will rescue those who are crushed in spirit.  You might be one prayer away from a divine Queen Mary style rescue.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Body Work-Out

No, this is not a picture of an Operation Christmas Child parade float waiting to happen (although--hmm, it could be.)

This is proof of the Body of Christ at work.

In March I was unsure of whether we should host another large packing party or not.  I had not been finding any deals on items, the storage container was virtually empty, and I, my OCC prayer team, and others were all praying for wisdom.  

I decided to buy this large load of washcloths that were obtained by one of our OCC Regional Area Coordinators, Loretta, from a textile supplier on the other end of our state.  I wrote and mailed her a check, even though I still didn't know for sure if we'd have a packing party and I had no idea how we would transport those items to Erie.  Loretta was the first member of the body in this link.

In April we decided to go ahead with the packing party and God began to open doors for us to purchase more items.  Loretta found a supplier for pencils and, on faith, I asked her to order some for us.  Still, I had no idea how to get those washcloths (and now pencils) transported.  But our prayer team and other members of the body, linked in prayer for this.

Months went by as we prayed.  Then about a month ago a young man in our church decided to start a Facebook group to encourage people to share their needs and live out the idea of "holding all things in common."  Another link from another member of the body.

Most of these people were not in my social circle or my social media circle.
I posted on this Facebook group my need for getting these items transported and  pretty quickly I had a reply from a couple who volunteered to drive to get these items.  Yes--another link.  And they asked and received permission to borrow a trailer from other church members--another link.

Last Thursday Don Sweatman went to pick up the items from Loretta and Loretta secured some volunteers--more links from the body--to help load the trailer.

Another plea on the Facebook group and some asks at church brought still more links of members of the body of Christ who came to unload that trailer and store those items in our storage container.

In less than two months these bundles of washcloths and boxes of pencils will be unloaded by still more body members and then packed into boxes by still others.

Eventually, members of the body of Christ in other countries will hand the boxes containing these washcloths and pencils to children to tell them of the love of Jesus.

When the children wash with those washcloths and write with those pencils they  will probably never know the Body Work-Out it took to bring these gifts to them.

But God will.  And He will be saying, "That's how it's supposed to work.  Well done."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Better Than Fireworks

This is a Throwback Thursday blog about a great Operation Christmas Child blessing that happened a month ago.  My Operation Christmas Child journey this year has been filled with more ups and downs than usual.

I've been reading Psalms and I can definitely identify with David who, when in the depths of despair, will suddenly burst forth in praise to God.  Highs and lows abounding.

On July 5th I had the surprise pleasure of meeting Lisa Seales from Virginia.  It seems like Operation Christmas Child shoe box packers and volunteers have a special bond.  Mary Damron, a national spokesperson for Operation Christmas Child, once said we'll know each other in heaven because we'll have little gold shoe boxes over our heads.  I'm not sure if that's true, but I do know that I just love to meet and talk with anyone who works for OCC.

Lisa was driving to my area on a family vacation so she contacted me and asked if she could bring some of her extra items to donate for our packing party.  That's an offer I'd never refuse!

I think Lisa's family thought she was more than a little crazy when they arrived to pick her up for her trip and she had a vacuum packed bag filled with 100 stuffed animals and a large box of great filler items.

This is what 100 stuffed animals looks like after an expert packer like Lisa gets done with them.

It looked like we were going to miss connecting on that Saturday afternoon, so Lisa dropped her donations off with my husband and left with her sisters for the shopping mall.  When I arrived home just minutes after she left and saw all the great items she'd sacrificed to bring, I knew we just had to meet.

I called her and we arranged to meet at the mall.  What joy it was to connect in the food court and swap stories of God's goodness to us through Operation Christmas Child.

I never tire of hearing of how God provides for each of us who packs shoe boxes, and Lisa's tales of her Target trips after Easter were classic.

In just two months, Lord willing, it will be three days past our packing party and the trucks carrying the 23,000 packed shoe boxes will be on the road.

And in those boxes will be stuffed animals and filler items that were lovingly transported from Virginia by my new friend.

This was the best part of my 4th of July weekend.  Much better than fireworks!

Monday, August 4, 2014

No Soap Opera

Man, I feel like I need a blog a day to keep up with all that's going on.  I'll need to tell you later about the "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" flip-flop drive that had my house full of flip-flops to be put into cartons and tubs for storage this weekend.

I started the morning working on those flip-flops and then decided to switch gears to start sorting the 500+ stuffed animals that were donated in the midst of the flip-flop deluge so I could start the washing process on those that needed to be freshened.

I'd barely started the sorting when my phone rang.  It was a truck driver letting me know she was a mile from my storage container with a load of five pallets of soap I ordered two weeks ago.

The company that produces the soap was supposed to send me a bill of lading when it was shipped.  They did not.

I asked them to have the trucking company call to schedule the delivery.  They did not.

I've been praying about this delivery ever since I placed the order--asking God to work out all the details since I've had so many problems with deliveries in the past.

Now here I was scrambling again.  But, you know, God really did have it all planned out.

My husband wasn't working on a job today, and I was able to call him and ask him to come to the church to help unload the delivery.  Pam, another team member, also agreed to come.

God gave me grace to get to Grace Church in good time and the sweet truck driver had just dropped two of the five pallets.  We struck up a conversation and she knew about Operation Christmas Child and had participated at churches she attended in the past.

"I hate to drop this load," she said, "because it makes my trailer smell so good."

My husband arrived soon and we started to unwrap the pallets and carry the soap into the container while still chatting with the driver.  I showed her a few pictures of past OCC packing parties and explained our process.

I also told her she was a part of the project and her work was making an important difference for kids around the world by getting this soap to us.

When it came time for her to leave, she said she wished she could stay to help us unload but just couldn't.  I told her I understood and asked if I could pray for her.

She grabbed my hands and I prayed for her safety and for her to know how much God loves her.  Then we hugged.

She hugged me really hard and really long, then, with wet eyes she said, "I had a really hard weekend, so this helps make it better."

"Anything special I can pray for?"  I asked, and she replied, "No.  Just life."

It's just life.  Not a soap opera.  But for a moment we shared our lives over 27,000 bars of soap.