Yesterday I shared with you my thoughts from Day 1 of Willow Creek’s annual Leadership Summit. I realized after I posted that I actually stopped too soon with the notes so here are the remaining two Day 1 speakers plus my Day 2 thoughts. Again these are not the full notes just some personal reflections on the speakers and what was said.
Dr. Peter Zhao Xiao- He is one of China’s leading economists and he recently became a follower of Christ! He shared through an interpreter the state of Christianity in China and how it’s only promising to get better!
Andy Stanley- Because the previous session went long because of the interpretation, Andy had to rush through his talk. Too bad, because as always he had a vast amount of wisdom to share. Basically he gave a talk on how as leaders we need to differentiate between problems to solve and tensions that need to be managed. As an example, there will always be debates in a church between evangelism and discipleship. Some will say we’re doing too much to win the lost and need to focus more on helping people grow and mature. Others would argue…we’re going to deep and the message has become inaccessible to those far from God. This is a tension to manage, not a problem to solve. Now that one may seem obvious, but there are other ones that aren’t as obvious and again Andy said that there are some problems that you never want to solve or you will create worse problems.
Jeff Manion- Another guy I had brief knowledge of but yet had never heard speak. His talk and newest book are entitled, The Land Between. Essentially he talked about Israel’s time wandering in the desert. Behind them was slavery in Egypt and in front of them was the Promised Land, but it was the land between where God did his greatest work in them. Jeff’s point was we will all go through the desert at points in our life which are ripe for complaints, meltdowns and God to discipline us…however it’s also a place where God provides and transformational growth in us best happens.
Terri Kelly- She is the CEO of W.L. Gore, most famous for their line of GORE-TEX products. She was interviewed by Jim Mellado, the President of the Willow Creek Association and quite frankly I could have listened to her being interviewed all day. Gore’s philosophy since it’s founding is to have situational hierarchy. In other words, whoever is best fit to lead for each project becomes the leader. They also as a company work in pods of people where you pitch your ideas to your teammates and then together you work on the best ideas. Basically you are free to work on whatever project you want that will expand the company and each year raises and bonuses are determined by your fellow peers. At Gore it’s all about team and they feel the more people who feel like they are in leadership the better they will be. Trust me, I’m not doing justice to their philosophy in this paragraph…research it for yourself and you’ll discover why year after year they get voted one of America’s top companies to work for.
Daniel Pink- He is a former White House speech writer and his new book, Drive is about what motivates us to do the things we do. This was another great talk on how companies and organizations have traditionally tried to motivate (reward/punishment: entice with carrot or beat with stick) versus how we should. The three key factors in proper motivation are offering autonomy, the chance to master their skill/craft (and get positive feedback) and having a sense of purpose (what I’m doing matters and it’s so much bigger than me).
Blake Mycoskie- First let’s get a couple things out of the way. One…this was the most emotional talk/interview…the room got a bit dusty at times. Two…this is a very good looking man. I’m secure enough in my manhood to say it…this guy is hot. Ok, we interrupt this creepy part to return you to your regular blog, already in progress. Blake was a contestant on the Amazing Race and later while on a trip to South America was heartbroken to see so many kids without shoes. Instead of saying, “Oh that’s too bad”, he instead came home and decided to do something about it. He started TOMS shoes which is a for profit shoe business that for every pair sold, will then donate a free pair to a child who is without. To date they have given over 850,000 pairs of shoes away! Blake said, “If you focus on giving, then people will always tell your story”. What a great lesson for churches…if we give, then our churches will always be full because people will tell the story of what we’re doing and will want to be a part.
Jack Welch- This guy is one of my business hero’s. For 41 years he worked for GE, culminating with him becoming CEO and turning them around when it looked like they were about to go out of business in the 80’s. If you hang out long enough with me, you will hear Jack Welch philosophies that I have applied to the church, life and ministry. It was funny watching Bill Hybels interview him and try to keep Jack from using bad language. Jack did a great job though of censoring himself…more on that later as to why that may be. Two things stood out from this excellent interview. First was Jack saying, “It’s not the loud mouths that are a problem, it’s the hallway whisperers. You’ve got to stop the meetings after the meetings where the whispers happen. These people should have had the courage to speak up in the meeting. If you don’t stop them they will poison your organization”. Second, was Bill talking live after the pre-recorded interview with Jack was done. He shared how Jack has begun attending a church and he believes is close to becoming a follower of Christ. Bill’s encouragement was to never give up on someone no matter how far from God it may seem they are.
Bill Hybels- Bill then gave some parting thoughts before introducing the final speaker. First, read as a discipline…you may not always want to, but you’ve got to. Second, get around other leaders who are better than you and learn all that you can. Next, make sure you intentionally place yourself in places where leadership is taught. Finally, keep leading strong no matter what the cost.
TD Jakes- If you’ve ever heard TD Jakes in his element, you know he is a master communicator. On this day though I think he had two things going against him. First, he seemed to not be feeling well. Second, the crowd was too white. He feeds off the emotion/energy/talk-back that African American’s are more known for in encouraging a pastor. With that said though…even on an off day, TD Jakes can preach better than 99.9% of today’s pastors, yours truly included. He had lots of great tidbits but my favorite was this, “If you only bring people on your team who are like you, they will COMPETE with you, not COMPLETE you.