Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Glory In Weakness

I've been thinking today about all the unexpected things Operation Christmas Child volunteers around the world are doing week by week in God's power--His strength in our weakness.   I found out last week I was getting a shipment of donated frisbees and jump rope handles sometime in the next few days.  My problem was twofold--I wasn't sure when the delivery was coming and my husband and I were going out of town and I had no place to store this delivery.

After some days of concerted prayer the delivery timing fell into place but as of this morning we still had no storage space.  I tried several avenues that seemed blocked. Our prayer team prayed.  Facebook friends prayed.  And within a few hours we had an old truck on the church property available for storage.

The delivery truck arrived promptly as scheduled and the weather was bright and sunny (unlike the driving rain we had last year for this delivery.)  The truck space was just enough to store all the cartons.

And we six stalwart 60-something volunteers got the 150 cartons of frisbees and jump ropes stored and the 207 cartons of soap back into the truck for a return delivery in just an hour.  God's strength for sure. 

You know, my training as a nurse never prepared me to unload a truck and never taught me about lift gates or how to use a pallet jack.  Many Operation Christmas Child volunteers were never prepared for such tasks but still learned to do them and perform them competently.

I remember how scared I was in 2009 when I was invited to speak as a volunteer at the processing centers in Charlotte and Boone.  My itinerary included instructions to rent a car at the Charlotte airport and to later drive myself to Boone.  I was scared.  At the time I'd never rented a car and didn't trust my ability to get to Boone without getting lost.  I prayed.  By God's grace I made it. 

Across the world volunteers are doing new tasks like fundraising or handling trucking logistics or importing shipping containers or completing papers for tax exoneration or figuring out how to store or transport cartons of shoebox gifts to remote areas--things they never expected to do and don't feel equipped to handle.

But with prayer and by God's grace all these tasks that are part of getting these precious shoeboxes filled, transported, and received by children around the world as ambassadors of Jesus' love are completed--day by day and year by year.

God's strength in our weakness.  Over and over again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Catching Down

Days just keep sliding by, and I realize as we count down the last weeks toward our packing party I need to do some catching up on the week's activities.

I've been saturated lately with a dual olympics--the one in Rio and and one playing out here as we near the big day.  Between watching olympic TV coverage and the ubiquitous sorting of stuffed animals we've also had some big Operation Christmas Child team events here.

Last Thursday our team hosted a packing party work day.  Pam, our media coordinator, worked her magic and Christine, our community relations coordinator, set up the facility.  We were blessed with about 50 people throughout the day and most of them were folks from the community I'd never met.
Together they bagged crayons and soap and finished the last of the jump ropes.  The soap and ropes were finished by 3:00 or so but a trusty, faithful few hung in there until 5:15 when the last case of crayons were finished.

So...for the first time in packing party history...all the major prep work is done a month before the actual packing party.  Amazing

The next night we hosted a Project Leader Workshop.  Jane, our church relations coordinator, did a lot of prep work.  She made cute centerpieces....

set up and practiced the Power Point presentation, and arranged a scrumptious dessert bar.  We prepared an appropriate/inappropriate game to educate attendees about what to put in their shoe boxes.  It was a fun evening, despite the fact that only seven people came out in addition to several of our team members.

On the plus side, those who attended said they learned things they hadn't known about the broad impact of the Operation Christmas Child project.  If even a few of them are inspired enough to inspire others to pack boxes...well, then, we achieved our goal.

Saturday's safari was a hot one and yielded only 90 stuffed animals, but 40 of them were brand new Beanie Buddies (the oversized ones that will be perfect anchors to fill boxes for the 2-4 year olds.)

Sunday brought perfect weather--sunny, with temperatures in the 70s--something we haven't seen for weeks.  What a day for an outdoor packing party!  Thanks to Rose for setting up this fun event for her church friends.  She was incredibly organized, and in just three hours we packed 325 well-filled boxes.

This week started with more stuffed animal sorting and a bevy of phone calls.  I've been trying to reconcile with Clean The World--the non-profit that sold us our soap.  You may remember I recommended them in a previous blog.  I've had good deliveries from them in the past two years but this year our soap arrived late, had a high percentage of damaged cartons, and we were missing 24 cartons.  I notified Clean The World the next day (July 19) and they promised to send the missing cartons but they never arrived.  At our packing party work day we found some of the soap in pretty terrible condition...

so I called the company again and sent several emails asking for a refund on the soap we never received.  Today Cairra from Clean The World called to say the company will not give a refund.  The best they will do is give me a credit for the missing 24 cases to use if I want to order soap from them next year--no other compensation.

Since I'd recommended them in a past blog I felt I should mention this.  If you order soap (or any other product for that matter) I'd advise you to find out exactly how many cartons you are to receive and refuse to accept the delivery if you don't receive it all.

Meanwhile, as we're preparing to take a mini weekend vacation, I got a call last night saying a delivery of generously donated mini frisbees and jump rope handles may be delivered this weekend.  I don't know when it will arrive or where we will store those cartons...but the prayer team is on it...

And God's got it figured out.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Blessings and Begging

You know, I'm pretty shameless when it comes to trying to promote Operation Christmas Child for the possibility of getting more packed shoebox gifts to kids around the world.

I spent last Thursday and Friday at a satellite site of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.  I've gone each of the past few years mostly because I blog my notes in hopes of driving more people to this blog with a chance that someone new will learn about Operation Christmas Child.  Like I said--shameless.  So, for those who are my regular blog readers I apologize for loading the blog with all those notes.  You might want to scan through them and see if you can learn something, though.

During a break at the Global Leadership Summit, one of the church staff told me there were more stuffed animals in the church office for me to pick up.  Truthfully, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with donations.  I need them.  I want them.  I'm blessed by them.  BUT I get tired of dealing with them--hauling them and sorting them.  So...I trudged to the office to collect the bags and boxes and saw a note in an envelope addressed to my name with the church address on top of the pile.

I'd just left the church prayer room where I'd knelt and prayed and shed more than a few tears.  Leadership conferences have that effect on me.  Really.  And I'd also been wrestling with a decision I needed to make about our shoeboxes.  So...there I stood looking at the return address on the envelope.  Didn't recognize the name.  Someone from Missouri.  I don't think I even know anyone in Missouri.  Intrigued, I ripped open the envelope and pulled out this homemade card with OCC patches on it--

I opened that card and saw two words with a signature from my unknown friend at the bottom--

I teared up again, but happier tears this time.  Just that morning I read a devotional about how much Jesus loves me.  I'd been hanging onto that truth during my time in the prayer room.  God knew how much I needed that card with its message at that precise moment.  He knew.  I'm amazed at how He uses His people to encourage me.  Friend, if you're reading this blog--thank YOU.

So...moving from the blessing part of this blog to the begging part...our team set up a fundraising page two weeks ago through Samaritan's Purse to raise funds for shipping our shoeboxes.  Our goal is $7000 which is only enough for the first 1,000 boxes.  We're closing in on 10% of that goal, but we have a long way to go and haven't had any activity on the page for a while now.

The idea was to get a LOT of people to give a little--if 1,000 people would just give $5.00 each we'd be close to our goal.  Instead, we've had a few large (and very greatly appreciated) donations along with a few from our team members.

Here's where the shameless begging comes in--because shameless is appropriate when you're working to get the gospel to kids around the world.  You can click here to go to our fundraising page.

or copy and paste this:  https://www.classy.org/fundraise/team?ftid=85003

Would you consider making a small donation (hey, we won't refuse large ones either) to help ship our shoeboxes?  It's my birthday tomorrow, and I'm shameless enough to use that occasion, too...

Thanks in advance...

Friday, August 12, 2016

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Wilfredo De Jesus

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

Stay the Course

What a joy to be with you again at the Summit.  I have to be honest with you all.   Two months ago I started running in the park in Chicago.  In my second week of running I noticed that this man passed me up and he was walking.  I did what any leader would do and said, “Get behind me Satan,” and kept running.

We’ve heard some powerful topics at this Summit. I want to thank every leader for investing in your leadership potential, because I believe everyone wins when a leader gets better.  If ever leadership was needed it’s now.  We need men and women of God to lead in their communities.

Hebrews 2 says we must pay attention to what we have learned so we don’t drift away.  We have a culture that’s drifting.  No one drifts upstream.  No one drifts toward holiness.  We drift during boredom or tension.  A believer’s heart drifts when he sees a world of violence and assumes God is not on His throne any longer.  God IS alive and well and on His throne. 

We see the drift and we’re concerned.  Even here at the Summit you can have this discussion and get different views.  Even believers in the church have different views.  In a span of only a few years found that based on 15 sets of behaviors, 44% of Americans can be classified as post-Christian.  Seven out of 10 Americans want political leaders to have bold standards and they believe this is more important than character.  You don’t drift against the tide.  When you want to get from here to there and the tide is against you, what do you do?  You start swimming and you work together.  You must row, row, row…your boat.  And it’s not down the stream.  Going upstream takes effort.  You must row your faith and know your God lives. 

Staying the course will get you there.  You have to establish a true north.  A map changes but a compass always points north.  It’s a point of reference you can rely on.  In Chicago, Lake Michigan is on the east side.  It’s a point of reference.  It doesn’t change.  The word of God doesn’t change, even if culture is changing.  The Word of God is the true north.  A map offers many routes to get to the same destination but a compass is constant and can never change.  People today are open to many different routes and believe all religions lead to the same place, but Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  Without God we drift and are never truly satisfied.  No other route gives us the right direction.  No other life is worth living.

At age 14 the Word of God became the word for my life.  God planted in my heart this true north.  Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”  If you want to have the best outcome you should pay attention to your response. 

Though our culture is drifting, the church is not to drift with culture.  The church of Jesus Christ has always been at odds with culture.  Any time you try to become relevant with culture you become irrelevant.  
Four responses to cultural drift—

1.     People begin to accommodate the drift and say “It’s no big deal and it’s not our right to judge.” Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.”  The problem is we’re trying to be PC so we accommodate the drift. (lose truth)
2.     Oppose the change—only listen to people who reinforce their fears and fuel their anger (lose love for those around them)
3.     Withdraw – assume there’s no use because they have no voice and don’t want to get in the line of fire (lose God-given opportunity to represent Him)
4.     Engage culture (this is the only right response)  John 17:13-16 says we are “in this world but not of this world” –we interact with truth and grace and follow the example of Jesus who cared for those who were sinning and in need. 

We MUST engage our culture.  Jesus stood up against injustice to religious leaders.  Too many Christians value their position on issues more than God’s command to walk in love.  Matthew 5 – Jesus said we are salt and light—equal commitments to love and truth.  There’s a world that’s dark and deteriorating and light and salt are our responsibility.  It’s not a compliment; it’s a responsibility.  Jesus wants us to engage the difficult and demanding issues in our culture.  It would be easy to look away but choosing to engage requires a lot. 

Recently in Chicago our response to violence has been to highlight our “Love Life” campaign.  We laid out 352 crosses in our parking lot representing lives lost to gun violence.  We held a vigil and invited family members.  It’s difficult to describe the feelings standing with them and acknowledging grief but also God’s presence.  Evil has prevailed because good has been absent.  Good is the Church and good must be present.  We must bring good to the picture. The world must see good.  This is not the time to retreat or withdraw.  This is the time to engage the culture.  We must be the salt and the light.

As of yesterday we have 434 crosses on the hill.  In less than a month 82 more lives have been lost.  And good must be present.  Some of the violence in our culture is because the church has failed to be the salt and the light.  We’ve gotta get out of our four walls.  We must engage them with the love of Jesus.  How would they know? 

As I think about our culture drift, what’s missing is the salt.

1.     Know who you are—we must not define ourselves as the world defines us or let Hollywood define us.  Acts 20:24 Paul said the aim is to finish the course and testify to the good news of God’s grace.  It was clear Paul’s identity was in Christ.  I am not ashamed of the gospel.  You‘ve gotta know who you are.  In Burkina Faso I went into a house to see the king of a tribe.  I looked at the translator and said, “Tell your king I’m an ambassador of the King of Heaven and I represent the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”  The king got up and said, “Will you pray for me in Jesus’ name.”
2.     We have to watch the undercurrent—anything that goes opposite to the Word of God is an undercurrent.  The American dream is to have it all but the Kingdom Dream is to LOSE it all.  We must not deviate from His plan.  From the time a plane is in the air the pilot is making small changes to keep the flight on plan.  We will drift with culture if we don’t make corrections to stay on course.  Wavering off course is normal for imperfect human beings.  Even those who want to follow God need to keep making adjustments so we don’t drift.  The pilots doesn’t feel shame, he just continues to make adjustments that are good and necessary.  When you leave this Summit you’ll have to make adjustments so you can stay on God’s flight plan.  We must admit we have strayed and thank God for forgiveness. That’s called repentance.  The Bible says in Acts 3:19 “Repent and turn from your sins.”  The person who doesn’t repent is a person who thinks he can never be wrong.   

Reminder of the story of the Titanic: it was described as an unsinkable ship.  There were four warnings and they didn’t heed the warnings until it was too late to change course.  Even after warnings our culture is drifting but the church must be the church and stay the course.

D.A. Carson says, “We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith.  We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”  

I encourage you to stay the course.  The world is scared and it needs a fearless church.  Let’s keep from drifting.  Let’s engage and keep on coming back if we want to get from here to there.

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Horst Schulze

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

Creating an Organization of Excellence and Efficiency

I want to thank all the employees and volunteers that have organized the Summit and I congratulate all of you for making a decision to grow and improve. 

Here’s what I would like to do.  I’d like to look at a business you have or one you’d like to create and ask how you create it or lead it forward. 

To start a new company: Ask which industry?  Now, what market segment?  The next decision is how am I going to be successful in it?  Simply, you have to be more sufficient to the market you serve than the competition.  In order to do that, you have to know what the customer wants.  You also have to be efficient to be sure the product costs you less.

In order to be the most sufficient and most efficient I need leadership to do it.  How good do we want to be?  In everything we do, no matter what market, we are creating excellence in what customers want—better than the competition.  Part of what you have to excellent in is service and caring for the customer.  The customer wants three things

1 the product is perfect
2 that you serve them timely
3 that you care

If your hospitality is great the customer will return.  How good are we at hospitality? 1500 years ago it was written to the monasteries how to serve people: 
--All guests who arrive should be received as if they were Jesus Christ Himself
--Honor should be shown to all and complete humility should be shown to guests who are arriving and departing as if it were Christ Himself
--After a guest has been received, let a superior sit with him and break his fast for the sake of a guest.
--Let the Abbott give the guest water for their hands and wash their feet
--All guests should be received with kindness and care
--Let two monks be appointed to the kitchen for  a year and given all they require so they can serve with honor; when they are not busy let them help someone else; this applies to all jobs across the monastery

Where does today’s management come from?  Created during the industrial revolution by a man named Taylor—before this time it was the proprietor who ran the business and also talked to the customers.  Management should be managing processes and product.

Leadership implies we are going somewhere and we need to align people behind us to go somewhere.  Leadership has the ability to close the eyes and dream about a place in the future.  Leadership has to question: is this destination I see good for all concerned?  (customers, employees, society)  We don’t look at those values anymore; we look at our own values.  How can I lead if I don’t have anything steady to look at as my destination. 

The first day your business is open is the first day you can adjust the behavior of your new employees.  You can’t adjust behavior after age 16 unless there is a significant event that takes place in the life.  We do not let employees go to work without repeating the key elements of our company.  Align the employees behind the expectation of the customer. 

Is the total focus on people?  Align your employees behind value in life.  Tell them how they will benefit if your business is excellent.  This communication must go on the first day.   We shouldn’t hire human beings for function; we hire them to be part of a purpose—part of a dream.  They have to know what the dream is.  You repeat it and continue to communicate it.  Human beings cannot relate to orders and directives; they relate to motives. 

Efficiency also has to be taught and shown.  We don’t give people more than they want. We’re not going to give them 24k faucets.  That would be wasteful. 

Efficiency is not cutting costs; it’s eliminating unimportant work.  When you build this business you understand what the customer wants.  If you manage right you look at every input you have.  If the ketchup costs $1.50 a bottle but you negotiate to get it for $1.49 you are ahead of the competition.  If you do it with every item you just became efficient. 

The greatest saving is the elimination of defects.  If you could eliminate 20,000 defects you would improve your product and lower your cost.  There is huge money to be saved in that efficiency. 

I opened the first Ritz-Carlton hotel.  The number one complaint was slow room service.  Two years later it was the same complaint.  We created a team to explore this and discovered there was a long wait for the elevators.  Then they discovered housekeeping was propping the door and the problem was they only had two sets of linen for each bed. Now another manager is involved and the root problem was finally discovered--in order to cut costs they had cut a set of linen per bed.  Customers were lost because of this cost-cutting. 

Empowering is respecting employees and customers.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  God bless you.

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Danielle Strickland

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

Leader Interrupted:  Getting It Right

The whole leadership journey for me started when I was 19 years old and served with the Salvation Army in the Soviet Union after it collapsed and the churches were invited back in.  I called him Captain America.  He was 6’4” and strong and a remarkably gifted leader—charismatic, deal maker.  He’d arranged for an office in the Kremlin to use as a command center.  He needed to go back to the states to raise funds and I waited on the tarmac for his replacement to arrive.  She (the commissioner) came down and she was old and shriveled and tiny and my mouth said, “I’m pleased to meet you” but my heart said “we’re gonna die.  They just replaced Captain America with my grandma.”  I told her we had a trip to a prison the next day planned and she said, “Yes, I’ve been briefed; I’ll see you in the morning.”

The next morning we were driving to the prison with reporters in the car exchanging terrible war stories about exposing the truth.  The Commissioner told me to pull over the car and I watched her tell these reporters they hadn’t been properly briefed.  She told them, “I called the warden and promised them we were coming in the name of Jesus.  So I wanted to brief you and tell you if you can’t get on board with our mission to get out of the car.”  I wondered what happened… but those cynical reporters shrunk into six-year-old boys and became compliant. 

That night the Times Magazine reporter faxed his article and put at the top “For the Commissioner’s approval.”  He came by and asked to see the Commissioner and asked her to pray for him before he left town again.  Then I realized I didn’t want to be Captain America; I wanted to be the grandma Commissioner.  God allowed me to see the difference between physical leadership and spiritual leadership.  

How do we make spiritual leadership happen?  Judges 6:11-24 (read aloud) Gideon has this experience and builds this altar—a memorial to remember the occasion—and calls it “the Lord is peace”—and right after that he starts a war.  Martin Luther King said, “True peace is not the absence of conflict.  It’s the presence of justice.”  Gideon’s altar was called ‘shalom’—Hebrew word that means every wrong made right.  It’s a presence of the fullness of God. 

The world is crying out for rightness and truth.  So how does this happen.  Gideon has to make some shifts; he has to get in the right alignment.  God discovers him hiding out in fear; this is where God usually finds most of us. 

Insecurity                                                                                                arrogance
This line represents true humility

Gideon is so insecure, when God calls him he is in disbelief. But God calls Gideon ‘mighty warrior’ and doesn’t allow him to make excuses for his weaknesses.  God doesn’t say “go in the strength you’ll get when you get ready”  God says, “God in the strength you HAVE.”  God is calling out what is already in him.   Gideon plays the tape and says “but I am the least in my family”—we all have that tape that plays in our head.  You have to come into agreement with what GOD says about you.  Stop the tape and come into God’s truth.

If you have true humility there will be a vertical line of true dependency that goes right through that horizontal humility line.  Gideon is always asking for a sign and when God gives it him he just asks again and then again.  (God is probably thinking “I should have called a woman” because every time God calls a woman in the Bible she says, “May it be to me as You have spoken.” 

At the top of that vertical line is self-sufficiency and at the bottom of the line is co-dependency.  A real-life Gideon is making pockets of dependency within his real life. We need to create places where we come into agreement with Who God is.  When Gideon asks for a sign, he’s asking for proof of the shalom (wholeness) of God.  He wants to be able to move in that wholeness.  In order to create those pockets of dependency you have to create space where only God can meet you. 

A man named Phil had a vision to start a charity about empowerment. He didn’t know how to raise money but he felt God asking him to use the money they’d saved for a mortgage.  Now that organization has empowered more than 1 million orphans because he was obedient and invested his own money, his own marriage, his own future.  He came into a posture of knowing Who God is in real life.

Talking about putting on the armor of God.  Why would you put on shoes of the “gospel of peace” and then go into battle?  You agree with God about who He is and you take that shalom and take it into the entire world that’s longing to be made right.

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Bill Hybels/ Henry Cloud/ Shauna Niequist

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

Leadership Illusions

Bill:  A few years ago I talked to you about blind spots—weaknesses a leader can’t see.  I’ve always wanted to speak about what I think is almost a universal blind spot in type A, driving people – there’s a blind spot about reflection and pushing the ‘pause button’ and realizing the importance of self-reflection and getting a picture of what’s really going on in your life.  I’m activistic and want to keep moving forward but I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t punctuate my activity with self-reflection I pay and everyone around me pays.  What we’re going to do in this session—we’re going to provide you the time to experience a few minutes of reflection on the illusions of leadership:

1.     The illusion that you can carry ever-increasing amounts of speed in your life and simultaneously keep your soul line heading in the same direction with the same margin.  As God blesses us He gives us more to manage and we just go faster and faster but at some place on this line of increasing speed I start losing touch with my soul.  The connection with God gets a little more distant and I just start asking God to help me keep my speed up.  I start going too fast for the people in my life.  It’s not just God and other relationships—it can affect your health, your recreation.  The illusion all of us suck into—in my experience you can’t keep going.  It must involve flattening out the speed and having new relational practices and goals. 
Speed Vs. Soul – Take 2 minutes to evaluate your own life and what God is whispering to you to do about it

Dr. Henry Cloud – new book “The Power of the Other”—

2.     The most important thing is: who are you connected to?  Here’s a GPS—Write down this map of connectedness—the map of the leader’s world.  There are only 4 possibilities of connectedness—
Corner #1= no connection (leadership can force you into no connection)   Corner #2= bad connection (someone’s in it with me but it leaves me feeling I’m bad and a loser)
Corner #3=fake good connection (relieves the pain but a pseudo connection like an addiction or driving to greater numbers)
Corner #4=real connection (the power of the other—real relationships that operate with a particular formula and that is I must walk into that corner from a place of need and accept the help of the other—God calls us to come home to corner #4—we need to surround ourselves with people who can be in corner #4 with us)

Take 2 minutes reflecting on which corner you are in most often? Why?  What keeps you from going to corner #4?

3.     The illusion of achievement.  Shauna Niequist (my daughter) sent me the       manuscript of her new book “Present Over Perfect” and she will now read me an excerpt from that book:  (paraphrase) thinking that achievement would make me happy—my life began to feel like an obstacle course and I felt exhaustion and isolation—so I began the journey back to grace and love and connection and rest.  This is my greatest regret:  for a season I placed my marriage and my family on the altar of competency and efficiency.  I was giving the best of myself to people “out there” while the core of my home was fragile.  I thought I would feel gladness if I broke my back for my work but that didn’t come.  You find the gladness in the people around your table, in prayer, when you sit in silence.  It’s not in numbers or bank accounts.  The love you’re looking for isn’t something you can calculate; it’s something you receive.  In the silent space the love you’ve been looking for that comes from God Himself will come.

For the next 2 minutes do a “satisfaction audit” on a 10 scale.  Are you satisfied? Where are you finding it?  Where are you not finding it?  Are you open to the love of God and the work of the Spirit in your life? 

No matter what illusion you’ve believed in the past, God love rewriting stories and making things new.  He loves to mend and restore.  You think about that as this promise is sung over you. 

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--T.D. Jakes

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

One-on-One Interview with Bill Hybels & T.D. Jakes

Bill:  I’m so glad you agreed to do this interview.  These are very interesting days we’re living in.  Time Magazine called you the most effective preacher in our country right now.  Most of our audience probably wouldn’t know your ministry has extended to publishing, record producing, motion pictures, investments, philanthropy, and a new daily TV talk show.  From a leadership perspective this fills my mind with all kinds of questions. Conventional leadership wisdom says leaders should focus but you don’t seem to buy that.
TD: We buy into titles and put a period where God would put a comma.  God put a seed in us and gave us time to produce what was in the seed.  If you nurture what’s in you and don’t limit yourself by job descriptions out of the seed can come a forest. Find the common thing in the diverse interests—for me it was being called to communicate.  For me, He opened my mouth to speak.  Then you lead from what you have in common.
Bill:  You say in your book, “Rip off the lid of your abilities” is that what you are driving at?
TD: Sometimes the frustration of burnout is really the frustration of not being challenged. If the day doesn’t require of you something beyond what you did yesterday you’re not being challenged.
What’s amazing is the things along the way help you learn who you are.  The haters are just an instrument to sometimes educate you.  Sometimes, like fish, you have to eat the meat and throw away the bones.  God didn’t call you to change their minds, you just have to keep moving forward.
Bill:  You started writing books, then moved to records and a label, and now into motion pictures. 
TD:  Jesus taught people through parables and we use story to teach without assaulting people.  There are more people at the theater on Friday night than there are in the sanctuary on Sunday morning.  The Great Commissions was about us going into the world.
Bill:  You’re still pastoring, still writing, -- how far is your head really in that game?
TD:  I have 350 employees so it’s not all me. You are no greater than the people you put around you.  You can find people who have the skill set to fulfill your dream…if you can fulfill your own dream it’s much too small.  You’re not great unless you can be around great people and not being intimidated.  Some of us never talk to people who aren’t like us and we’re limited to a proud perspective when we have a global God.
Bill: The list of what you’re leading just keeps growing.  How do you manage this in your mind?
TD: At the end of every day I will never finish everything I need to do. There’s always something I will miss but I never let it be the same thing twice.  Don’t deplete one area.  If you have to hold it to have it then you have the wrong people in place.
Bill:  God seems to be increasing your capacity.  One time when we were backstage you apologized for a talk and said you were exhausted.  What happened?  Did you drop some things or did team members let you down?
TD:  Anytime you take on new things it takes a while to learn to manage it.  You caught me in one of those times.  Jesus got tired.  But you don’t want to stay tired. You want to figure it out.  I have to restructure to be able to manage—may need more staff.  It’s not where we want to go that’s our problem; it’s what you are willing to leave behind in order to get there.  Sometimes we’re trying to “save bread” that was meant to spoil.  God did not mean for you to save yesterday’s vision.  How can God give you today’s bread when you are busy holding on to yesterday’s bread?  Sometimes the worms are a blessing.
Bill:  You are starting a daily TV talk show.  Explain the vision behind that.
TD: I’ve been on Dr. Phil’s show and it fed a hunger and need for people who weren’t church people and need direction and if we can bring it to them in a way that’s palatable they can receive it.  I want to talk about politics, health, race relationships, and other issues.  People are nervous and worried and to be able to be in their house every day is like Joseph being in Egypt.  Jesus did more walking the streets and I want the body of Christ to pray for me and support it.
Bill:  Every time I hear you preach my soul is lifted and I thought who better to lift the human spirit than you.  I’m on your side.  About 15 years ago we were both invited to a meeting where we spent a day trying to figure out racial reconciliation.  I see where we are 15 years later and in some ways it feels worse.  What part of that weight do you carry as you lead these ventures:
TD:  We physically get a fever or have pain is to let us know there is a problem.  As horrendous as the issues are in our country right now in some ways they are a blessing like pain that draws our attention to the issues.  Anything you ignore long enough will show up in a symptom that hurts you so it can help you.  It’s a lot more complex than who likes who.  Through a series of issues pockets of infection have developed and some people have been left out of the strategy of success—poor whites, underserved blacks and underserved browns.  Our American dream has become their American nightmare.  We do have a racial problem but when people don’t have opportunity they swell and can’t be ignored.  I want to deal with things like criminal injustice.  Because a few African-Americans are doing well doesn’t mean there is opportunity for all.  More African-Americans may be incarcerated because more are arrested and couldn’t afford good lawyers.  The swelling we’re having now is indicative we’ve left people behind who refuse to be ignored.  We have not created a strategy that allows the underserved to be empowered. 
Bill:  We see ethnic hatred all around the world.  We are tempted to mistrust those who are different.  How do you address those conflicts in other areas of the world.
TD:  It’s a war we don’t have a strategy to win.  If we don’t come up with a worldwide plan to attack hunger, poverty, disease, we will continue to see these fevers and swelling.  We need to come out of our comfort zone and deny it.  Pharisees asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?”  and the Good Samaritan was one who helped a person who was different.  When you start to recognize the brotherhood of men then God will open the windows of heaven to bless you.
Bill:  Is this fixable without faith.
TD: I don’t think so, yet I think the church has done the worse job.  Yet we have the faith.  Faith without works is dead.  We need a strategy and we need to be intentional. 
Bill: Recently you said you’re fired up about a new book called “The Second Wind”
TD: I’m passionate about the purpose of the book.  It’s about imagining a new future for yourself—not waiting for someone to rescue you but to become creative and birth businesses on a small scale.  These are pragmatic steps to become entrepreneurial.  We are like God when we create—we were created by a creative God to be creative.   This is a clarion call back to being fruitful and not allowing yourself to be so sold out to a job that you can’t be creative.  If you give someone a strategy it’s better than giving them a check.  If you do church the way your fathers did, you’ll miss your calling.  Joshua didn’t ‘do Moses’.
Bill:  You have an audience of several hundred thousand people.  As we wrap this up, can you give a challenge to those who need a lift.
TD:  There is not one living thing on this earth in which God did not put a seed within itself.  You are gifted with multiple gifts.  The real question for the second half of your life is “What are you gonna do with what God gave you?”  It only works when you use it.  He didn’t give it to you to hide it.  God has given you more than your life shows, than your occupation has demanded.  I want to be a bee that drops some fresh pollen on you and makes you fruitful again—you are more than what they call you or pay you.  I don’t want you to die wondering what it would have been like if you lived life to the fullest.  If you can think the impossible, the invisible, the intangible you can reach the unfathomable.  Unlock the cage that holds your mind back from seeing what God has given you.

2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--John Maxwell

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

The One Thing to Get Right

Bill talked yesterday about the fact that leaders matter disproportionately and I thought how true that is.  Yesterday we experienced so many things and I thought “Isn’t it true that when you sow into a leader’s life how that return becomes quite amazing.”  We owe it to Willow Creek Assn. to let them know how wonderful it is to sit and soak in this great leadership stuff.  (applause)

Bill and I are both grandparents. Something happens when you become a grandparent—you hold that child and know it’s the most beautiful and intelligent baby ever born. Then you ask yourself how intelligence skipped a generation.

A few years after the Iron Curtain had come down I was in Ukraine getting ready to speak at a leadership conference.  The interpreter said I had a challenge because, “You’re speaking to thousands of people who’ve never had a leader value them.”  I asked myself how I would connect with them.  When I walked out on stage as I watched their faces I could tell leadership was something they didn’t understand.  I asked have you ever been suspicious of a leader or been hurt by one?  And all hands were raised.  It’s amazing about leadership—you have the ability to bless people or curse people.  I told them I wanted to share ONE THING that a leader needs to get right.  I wanted to get them to “go there” because before you can lead someone you need to find them.  I needed to get them to think intentionally because everything they knew about leadership was negative.  The ONE THING I want you to do is INTENTIONALLY EVERY DAY add value to people.

Last week I had a conversation with the CEO of One Hope—largest distribution worldwide for children.  He said they started in Ghana and asked how many wanted to be a leader and 95% did NOT because they felt leaders were corrupt.  After leadership material was taught, 85% DID want to be leaders.  It turned when they realized adding value to people was the core of leadership.

When I talk with Presidents of countries, I ask, “Are you adding value to your people or do you want your people to add value to you?”

There is a thin line in leadership between motivating people and manipulating people.  Manipulating people is always wrong. 

Three questions followers ask leaders:
1.     Do you like me? (compassion)
2.     Can you help me? (competence)
3.     Can I trust you? (character)

Basically, will you add value to my life?  Adding value to people on a consistent basis makes things amazing.

Everything worthwhile is uphill.  Everything.  Life’s not easy; never has been; isn’t supposed to be.  Everything that is precious and beautiful is uphill (a good marriage, a successful business)

People have uphill hopes and they have downhill habits.  The only way you can break a downhill habit is to get intentional in your life.
Until people can turn on the switch to be intentional they can never make progress.  There is no accidental achievement.

Intentional living is deliberate.  We have to come and make a choice in our life that we’re going to be intentional.

Significance is not about me; it’s about others and it’s all uphill and the downhill habit that fights against it is selfishness.  Selfishness and significance are incompatible. 

So you think you’re not selfish, huh?  I think you are.  When you look at a group picture, who is the first person you look for?  You judge the picture on how good you look.

The reason I teach intentional living is because most people don’t lead their life they accept their life—and it’s unintentional and downhill.

How do we intentionally add value to people?  5 Things to Do—

1.     Value people (Jesus values people; God values you; God values people I don’t like) – we as Christ followers are going to have to choose whether to spend our lives connecting with people or correcting them
2.     Think of ways to add value to people –intentional living means intentional thinking; who am I going to see today and how can I add value to them? I have my grandchildren practice this, also. 
3.     Look for ways to add value to people – have your receptors on; when I am an added-value liver I become an added-value looker; I want to add value to people who don’t know me
4.     Add value to others – go from knowing to doing; at then end of the day I evaluate and ask myself if I added value to people that day
5.     Encourage others to add value to people – every day spread the message of valuing people

Story of a young woman named Gabby from Paraguay who called her husband and said she wanted to quit her job and lead this movement of intentional living in Paraguay.  She came back six months later and said I want you to sign your book for the president.  I’m going to meet him so he can invite you to come to Paraguay.  We were invited to come speak to the leaders of Paraguay and on Sunday I will leave to go to Paraguay for more training.  Gabby said, “You are going to cry because you’re going to speak to 8,000 facilitators who will train 70,000 teachers around the country.”  She kept saying, “That’s totally God.”  Here was one lady who decided to go to a country a make a difference. 

The question I have for you is simple:  Out of 300,000 people, who is going to be the next Gabby?  Who is going to say, “I am going to intentionally add value to people every day and make my life count.”  I am guessing there will be Gabbys that will rise up from this Summit and make a difference for the ages.


2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Erin Meyer

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)

The Culture Map

How cultural differences impact our effectiveness—

First example—Chinese client Bo Chan –hired by company in London—he prepared, greeted colleagues, said nothing at all during the meeting, as he overheard colleague say, “Bo has nothing to offer.”

Example of Sabine--French woman going to work in Chicago.  Boss reported he spoke to Sabine several times about things she needed to change but she didn’t respond.  I spoke to Sabine and she said things are going great.  She said, “I had my first performance review and it was the best in my career.” 

My example: raised in Minnesota and now living in Paris

Culture Mapping = helping people decode cultural differences

Three Dimensions of how to be a good communicator in different countries

When you look at the country positions, keep in mind there are many variances in any given culture. 

It’s about how cultures respond to or understand one another.

First Dimension: Low Context vs. High Context Communication
Low context assumes low level of shared references = very specific communication necessary
High context assumes higher level of shared references = more nuanced or layered communication

Japanese = highest context culture in the world
Anglo-Saxon countries = low context (US is lowest)
Asian & African = high context

In low context cultures we tend to nail things down in writing more frequently than in high context cultures
Example of parenting: Nigerian woman said we raise our children to be high context. My daughter may ask, “Can I have another sweet?” and I will respond, “Of course you can,” but she knows by looking at me that she had better not touch that sweet.

High context people think low context people are condescending or unintelligent.  Sending written confirmation is a sign of mistrust.

US (lowest context) vs. Japan (highest context)

1. global teams need low context processing
2. with low context people be as explicit as possible.  Put it in writing.  Repeat key points
3. With high context people ask clarifying questions, repeat yourself less.

Second Dimension: Direct Negative Feedback vs. Indirect Negative Feedback

US= lowest context culture in the world BUT not completely direct when giving negative feedback (go back to example of the French woman Sabine—she heard the positives at the beginning of the review and didn’t listen to the negative feedback given later)

Differences in education in US & France—in US teacher comments are positive and the comments from French teacher are more directly negative

Third Dimension: High Comfort with Silence vs. Low Comfort with Silence
Back to example of Bo Chan earlier who was quiet during a meeting.  In the US or other low comfort silence cultures we fill up the silence. Chinese or Japanese would perceive the silence positively (good listener, thinking).  Chinese can easily go up to 8 seconds of silence without feeling uncomfortable.

Overlapping Cultures—talk over one another
Perfect Timing Cultures—don’t like overlap and don’t like silence (US and Germanic cultures)
East Asian Cultures—pauses between conversation

Go to erinmeyer.com/tools for self-assessments and country differences