Friday, August 12, 2016

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.


  1. Thank you, Danielle- My wife learned of your Willow Creek message in a SA retreat in the UK yesterday - A SA officer asked her, is your husband Captain America?

    I googled the reference and am now "lifting" for use in my book! Blessings - xx Captain America lol

  2. I met two people today who'd attended the WC conference where reference was made to Captain America - They were long time friends of my wife and asked her some months ago if Danielle was 'referencing your husband', and to which she responded, yes.
    Interestingly, thre couple had been the pastors of Commissioners John and Lydie Ord for eight years. The Commissioner, who'd had oversight responsibility during the early years of the Army's return spoke often about the Ljungholm and used the adjectives; visionary, entrepreneurial, tireless servants, and diplomats for the Army and its mission - far from any suggestion of physical control.
    It should be remember that Captains Ljungholm and Commissioner Lindberg had a SA history dating back many years. And, it was at Ljungholm's invitation that Lindberg visited Moscow often to assist in reestablishing TSA in Russia. Blessings