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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Leadership Summit

Leading on the Edge of Hope, Christine Caine


There is really no way to capture the passion we just heard from Christine Caine in notes on a blog.  This is a woman who, as she said, is still "old-school enough" to truly believe that that Jesus is the hope of the world.  She challenged us to live into this moment - our moment in which there are great needs in the world and to step up and be the church that God longs for.

I was moved when Christine was telling a story in which she was challenged by a woman who was just being rescued from sex trafficking slavery who said, "If what you're saying about your God is true, why didn't you come earlier?"  She said this amazing statement, and one we should all reflect deeply on:

It is not that God did not hear your cry; but I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to hear it.  I honestly cannot think of anything in my life that was so important that I shouldn't have come earlier.

There is a great challenge - not only in terms of human sex trafficking - but in all the ways that God's heart breaks for his world.  Isn't it true that we are so often so busy with so many things that are merely much ado about nothing and are neglecting the very deep things that moved the Father to send Jesus into the world in the first place?

Towards the end of her talk, Christine talked about hope.  She talked about how courageous her little 4 year old becomes in the middle of darkness with a simple flashlight in her hand - with that little light, she'll go in darker.  While they were in Walmart buying a flashlight, her daughter said, "Mommy, can we please go find some darkness?"  It doesn't take much light to dispel the darkness, it simply takes the courage to step in for "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world."

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Chip and Dan Heath: Switch #tls09


These are some of my notes from the seventh session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

There are changes we choose, and changes that choose us.
Part of us wants to change and part of us like to stat the same.
If you have 9 things in your organization, 2 things that are bad, 5 that are working and 2 that are shining stars...what do you do?
  • Focus, study and replicate the 2 that are stellar
  • Look for the bright spots and find out what's different; throw resources behind those and multiply
When going after big issues, focus on sequences of small solutions and small starts.
"Shrink the change" - Take a large change, and run a micro version; get some small victory.  Then, resource and multiply and go big.
We owe it to people to prepare them for adversity.

Ideo's View of Hope to Confidence

There are people who have the "growth mindset."  They are always thinking that with work, they can become better.  But built into that whole process is a tolerance for failure.
"Failure is not an option" is ridiculous.  It is often through failure that success comes.  It may be an early warning sign for success.
Sometimes we think we have a problem with someone who won't change, or won't accept our ideas.  In this sense, we think we have a "people" problem when we might actually have a "situation" problem.  This is called a fundamental attribution problem.

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David Gergen: Eyewitness to Power #tls09


These are some of my notes from the sixh session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

  • Each of us has our own journey and path to and in leadership.
  • A teacher of leadership cannot teach a leader.   You can, however, introduce people to models and make them aware of leadership principles.
  • Can you create a culture in an organization in which people are encouraged to behave certain ways towards each other and aspire to serve and to lead one another.
  • Be a "reflective practitioner."  Where you really learn leadership is by doing it in the arena by leading, but then also by reflecting on the practice.  What did I do wrong?  What did I do right?  What have I learned?
  • "Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader."  --Harry S. Truman
  • It's like Jacob wrestling... you have to be willing to wrestle.
  • Don't confuse motion with progress.
Bill Hybels:  What was the most admirable quality of each of the 4 Presidents you served?
  • Nixon:  The best strategist I've ever met... he could see how history was about to unfold and would seek to bend history..."  "Someone who can look further back can look further ahead."  --Churchill
  • Ford:  "The most decent president I've ever worked for."
  • Reagan: "The best leader in the White House since Franklin Roosevelt... he was a principled man... he had a contagious optimism about life."
  • Clinton:  "Resilience... he was always willing to get back up."  "Very, very bright guy with an extremly quick, tactical mind."
"Sometimes the right hand does not know what the far right hand is doing."  --Ronald Reagan
Bill Hybels:  Without saying nasty things, you saw weaknesses in all these men.
  • Nixon:  "I was really glad I read Machiavelli before I worked for Nixon... There is a very dark side in here, too... he had these demons he couldn't control and they eventually took him down.  He was the author of his own demise."
  • Ford: "Sometimes he was a bit naive."
  • Reagan:  "Probably his detachment... Reagan would sometimes let others put their hands on the wheel."
  • Clinton: "Nixon had fundamental character issues that came back to haunt him, and Clinton had cracks in his character, too."
Bill Hybels: Great leaders carry with them great flaws.  Do you agree that general theory is true?
  • Not all great leaders are flawed.
  • All of us are flawed; the process of growing to maturity is trying to come to grips with the flaws.  "Coming to grips with the dark-side."  You have to be aware enough of your flaws that you don't hurt other people.

"The year of the The greatest leaders today are those who have great teams." --Warren Bennis

"If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together." --

Bill Hybels:  Talk to us aobut the "symbolism" in leadership

  • Leadership is working with others to achieve shared goals.  It involves persuasion, trust, and communication.
  • Clothing of Ghandi (to demonstrate simplicity) and Churchill (to demonstrate optimism) and Mandela (to demonstrate servant leadership).
"Speeches take place within a context never a vaccum.  Listeners bring to the occassion not only their dreams and aspirations, but a range of questions about the speaker.  Who is he down deep?  What does he really stand for?  Does he speak with authority?  Does he care about people like me? Can I place my faith and trust in him?"
Aristotle:  Good speeches have the following three components
  • Ethos - believability of the speaker
  • Logos - do yo uhave a compelling logic
  • Pathos - emotions
If you're speaking to a group who doesn't know you, your introduction needs to connect you to them so that they can open themselves up to the reasoned part of your speech (logos).  What people want at the end of the day is a call for action or something that appeals ot the emotions.
  • When Cicero spoke, people said, "Come let us think."
  • When Demosthenes spoke, people said, "Come, let us march!
Bill Hybels: Talk about the personal habits of leaders.
  • What's important to me is the self-discipline so that you have more to give as a person.
  • People who allow their bodies to go flabby allow their minds to flabby as well.
  • Building time into your day to reflect.
  • Building time into the day to be with people you cherish and who cherish you.
Bill Hybels:  As an educated parishioner going into church, what are you hoping is going to happen?
  • A place to find inner peace, to step back into something larger that gives you a sense of well-being and that this is not about you.
  • I'd like to learn something.
  • To find a moral compass, a moral "north," an anchor for the soul and for your leadership.

"Bill Clinton was a man who had a 360 degree view of the world, but often times lacked a moral compass."

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    Wess Stafford: Leveraging Your Past #tls09


    These are some of my notes from the third part of the fifth session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

    • I'm a victim of a broken heart from poverty; a broken spirit from abuse.
    • The pain I've experienced is the catalyst for leadership  integrity, passion, leadership.
    • They're not going to care what you know, until they know why you care.
    • Because of my pain I'm useful somehow in the kingdom of God.
    Wess told an incredible story of his abuse as a child in a boarding school in Africa along with many other children.  It was a horrendous story in which he experienced an average of 17 beatings a week, along with 50 other students.  This was a Christian boarding school for missionary kids.  This is not the first time I've heard stories like this from MK's.
    "The very people who should have been protecting us were our attackers."
    Wess spoke about how a little poor African village was the bosom of his restoration.  He learned compassion from the poor in Africa who loved him, and learned terror at the hands of Christian leaders at his boarding school.
    At a moment facing the torture of one of his torturors, he felt a great courage to not be shamed or give in to the horrid delight of his torturor:  "I knew that this was his Waterloo, and this was my Masada."  "At that moment I received my call to protect children from that time on."
    Poverty and abuse speak the same language to a children, and word is "Give up."  I see Satan using the same weapons he tried to use on me on other children around the world.
    What's your cause?  What do you lead?  Does it move you to tears?  Can it move you to tears?  Tears of sorrow at the need and tears of joy at the victories.  What is it that moves you passionately?
    • If you don't forgive people, you are letting them live rent-free in your heart.
    • "You took yesterday; you cannot have tomorrow."
    • "Forgiveness will not necessarily mean you will forgive.  But you will not forget what you will not forgive."

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    Andrew Rugisara: Aid vs. Trade #tls09


    These are some of my notes from the second part of the fifth session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

    What comes to mind when you hear the word "Africa"?  HIV?  AIDS?  Poverty?
    We need to change the the narrative, deconstruct the narrative about Africa.
    • "I see opportunity, a continent of 900 million people."
    • Trade is the only sustainable way to bring a community out of poverty
    • We need to trade our communities out of poverty
    • Africa contributes just 2% to world trade
    • Since 1970 Africa has received 400 billion from the US.
    • Countries will make Aid 40% of the national budget, thus undermining self-sustainability.
    • Africa  is a place of opprotunity, new markets
    • We don't want charity, we want market share
    • Aid was at its highest in 1995 and the GDP was at its lowest
    • Aid becomes a kind of remote control of african economy through aid
    • In the last 1o years, Aid has increased dramatically while GDP in Africa has decreased.  When Aid was the lowest, GDP was the highest and vice-versa.
    • Aid undermines accountability.
    • When Aid comes into the country, they reprioritize their focus on management of Aid rather than on development and self-sustenance.

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    Dave Gibbons: Thinking Forward - Third Culture Leadership #tls09


    These are some of my notes from the first part of the fifth session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  Thanks to Louis who helped me with this session while I answered a pager call.

    Sometimes things aren't quite the way the appear to be.

    Third culture is about adaptation.  Third culture is pain and discomfort because we interact with those who are different.  The Great Commandments are about third culture.

    Third culture leaders go after the misfits more than the masses.

    • Your failure, your pain, is your platform to humanity, it is what the World connects to you on it is what gives quality to your voice for the generation to connect to you
    • Most of the world doesn’t understand America’s success, but they will understand suffering, maybe suffering is success
    • Do we set aside time to listen to people’s story?
    • Gifts are important and skills, but our narrative is key
    • Walk slowly, see the people
    • Do I see them?  Do I have the eyes of a follower?
    • Weakness will guide us more than our strengths
    • We often worry about how to quantify a vision... DON’T we already have a vision?  LOVE GOD LOVE NEIGHBOR
    • You can’t have great vision without a great relationship with God
    • Jesus only did what he saw his father doing (JOHN 5)
    • We need more relationaries not visionaries
    • People to walk for a while people to talk for a while, where you feel the vibe
    • Best discipleship happens with life on life not a process or program

    Third culture leaders have a different set of metrics.

    • Hang out with people different than us
    • Read people different than us

    Third culture leaders know that obedience is more important than passion.

    4 Acts of Obedience of a Third Culture Leader

    1. Deeper Collaboration
    2. Communal LIving
    3. Prayer
    4. Radical sacrifice for the outsider

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    Jessica Jackley: KIVA - a Leadership Case Study


    I'm not going to write much on this interview, even though Jessica Jackley was great.  She was very articulate and is clearly passionate.  Some of the best things at the Summit are these interviews, particularly with younger women who have done some extraordinary things (cf. one of my favorites, Catherine Rohr last year).  I think it's awesome that Willow highlights young woman and gets behind their leadership at least in this way.  I'd like to see some more women keynote speakers, and not necessarily your standard Nancy Ortberg and Lynn Hybels (even though I like them.) I just think we have a lot to learn from some of the emerging young female leaders in the church today. Also, just want to say that KIVA highlighted in Jessica's talk is great, and micro-financing and micro-loans in particular is something that has taken far too long for the church to take notice  (I remember hearing first about these back at an Urbana Conference sometime possibly in '99 or '01) This is one of the best ways to get at financial and justice issues in terms of poverty and development globally that really doesn't fit in either the category of trade or aid (the big debate in development).

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    Tim Keller: Leader People to the Prodigal God #tls09


    These are some of my notes from the third session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

    Pastors are suckers for anything that promises spiritual renewal for the church.  The thing that shocks us is the amount of spiritual deadness in our congregations.
    A Diagnosis of Spiritual Deadness
    • Parable of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15
    • "Prodigal love for the prodigal Son" sermon by Spurgeon
    • The parable was not really written to younger brother types
    • Two groups of people around Jesus - sinner types, and religious leaders/ Pharisees
    • Jesus then tells 3 parables: Lost Sheep - Lost Coin - Lost Son
    • The parable is for the religious.  But both the older and the younger son are lost and the father has to go out and invite them into the party.
    • The younger son is concerned about the money more than the father.  The elder brother is concerned about the money more than the father.  Both are concerned about the money.  The younger tries to get the money early and run with it.  The elder tries to get the Father's things by living such a good life that he deserves blessing.  There are two ways to be your own savior - one is by being irreligious and one is by being very religious.  The difference is the claim by the older brother that he does love the Father, but underneath is the same reality.
    • Shocking ending:  the good boy is lost... the bad boy is saved.  The good boy is not lost despite his goodness, he his lost because of his goodness.
    • The gospel is not goodness or non-goodness, morality or immorality.  It is something much bigger.
    • Elder brothers are obeying God to get things.  They are using God as a means to an end.
    • Gospel believers believe God to get more of God.
    The source of spiritual deadness: elder brothers, because they are trying to make God through their being good and righteous believe they are getting leverage over God and think they have a righteousness over others, have a gospel that is based on performance.
    • Elder brothers get very angry, furious when things don't go well with their lives.
    • When elder brothers get criticized, they respond with viscious protection/ defensiveness or they respond with complete devastation.
    • Elder brothers pray mostly petitionary prayers, and when thing sare going bad you pray a lot.  Elder brothers rarely just enjoy God, adore him, and contemplate him.
    • It's impossible for elder brothers to not be primarily doctrinal people, and will loathe those who don't agree with them.
    • Elder brothers can't forgive and remain with ongoing bitterness because they feel superior to others.
    • Elder brothers are merciless in condemning others.
    A Prescription for Spiritual Renewal That's Not Too Programmatic or too Vague
    A new level of repentance
    • Not just repentance for your wrong-doing, but repentance for the reasons for your right-doing
    • Until you can understand the reasons for your right-doing, then you aren't truly repentant.  What are the motivations for your right-doing?  Do you belive that you are doing God a favor?
    • It's typical to read the story of the prodigal son and ask "what is the moral of the story?"  To which we answer, "Repent of wrong-doing and come back to the Father." However, we need to be moved by what it cost to bring back the prodigal son.  It was at the expense of the elder brother that the son was brought back.  The other half had been lost!  For every 2 fatted calves, for every signet ring, there were now only 1.  A true older brother would've gone and gotten his younger brother back.
    • The Father can only bring the younger brother back in at the expense of the older brother.  What kind of older brother do we need.  We have an older brother who has sacrificed to let us come back home.  Look what it cost our true older brother.
    • Church/ spiritual renewal
    A new level of rejoicing
    5 Things about Getting this Biblically Repentance and Rejoicing more Deeply Into Our People's Hearts
    1. You the leader need to work the Gospel into your heart.  (Stop trying to save yourself through your ministry).
    2. All of your preaching must be gospel centered.  If you're a preacher or a teacher, always move beyond biblical principles to the gospel.
    3. Get leaders together, and take them through the book Prodigal God.
    4. Work it into your congregation the slow way (through the leaders on their own spreading) or do the whole church at once.
    5. Pay attention to what happens.  Notice that you'll start to have disagreements and you'll You'll see religious people coming to you because they realize they are not Christians.

    "The Gospel is not religion or irreligion but something else."

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    Gary Hamel: Manage Differently NOW #tls09


    These are some of my notes from the second part of the second session of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

    The Christian Brand is taking a beating.  We are experiencing the de-churching of America.  We live in an increasingly secular society.  People say their spiritual but not religious.

    Questions:  Is the gospel failing us, or our organizations?  Is it God’s message, or our methods?

    Our churches have not been powerful magnets for attracting people to God.

    Unprecedented changes call for unprecedented innovation

    Institutions lose their influence when internal change lags behind external change.

    Our problem is inertia and organizational entropy.

    Success is often a self-correcting phenomenon.

    Every organization is successful until it’s not.  We’re all susceptible to denial.

    Pattern of Denial Response:

    • Dismiss
    • Rationalize
    • Mitigate
    • Confront

    When an organization misses the future, its usually not because it’s unknowable, it’s usually because it’s unpalatable.

    In turbulent times, humility is not just a good character trait, it’s essential.

    Make sure you’re listening to the renegades and the dissidents.  Do we welcome dissent?

    The future has already happened, but it’s unequally distributed.

    We have to come up with new strategies, new models.

    It’s the responsibility of every leader to convince people that change is more exciting.

    Avoid the temptation to conquer denial.

    We are very unlikely to create something new until you are able to deconstruct your current plan

    What hasn’t changed for 3-5 years?  Why not?  Because it’s working? Because we haven’t found anything better?  Or are we doing it because we’re all reading the same books, listening to the same consultants, and drinking the same bathwater?

    How can we radically innovate?  How can we come up with more radical unconventional ideas?

    The longer you’re in the trenches, the easier it is to mistake the edge of your rut for the horizon.

    Are you more committed to radical redemption than to your programs?

    Loss happens when the mental models of the leadership team are depreciating, but they still have all their power.  They then hold the institutions capacity to change captive to their own (un)willingness to change.

    Gore-Tex company:

    1. You get to be a leader when people ask you to be their leader.
    2. Commitment is always voluntary.  You can say “no” to whatever you want.

    “I’m working exactly on what I want to work on, and I’m working flat out.”

    Most management models were not built to be dynamic.

    Natural hierarchies with natural leaders.

    I find it ironic that most churches are trying more and more to become like corporations while more and more corporations are trying to become movements.

    The early church was spiritually powerful but institutionally weak, and most of our churches are exactly the opposite.

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    Summit: Session 2


    from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 2, Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission, Just Courage: Charging the Darkness I can't remember when I first learned about Gary Haugen and the International Justice Mission.  I heard him at The Urbana Missions Conference back in 2000.  He was inspirational then, and has continued to be in my life.  Haugen wrote a book years ago now called The Good News about Injustice, which has been meaningful and foundation text in my life.  I haven't seen the most recent version, but when I read it, it was foundational to God's plan for dealing with justice in the world.  (see Gary's talk below)  I had the privelege once to meet him in Ann Arbor at small talk he did to law students at the Law Quad at the University of Michigan sponsored by Intervarsity and James Paternoster, I think.

    Leadership Matters

    Leadership that matters to God deals with issues that matter to God.  So, we need to ask ourselves the question, "Are Jesus and I really interested in the same things?  What is God passionate about?"

    Two fundamental, and unfamiliar passions of God

    1. God's passion for the world. (John 3:16)  The whole incarnation was motivated by God's passion for the world.  What's the hardest thing for our world to believe?  That God is good in the midst of all the pain.  What is God's plan for making it believable?  We are the plan, and God doesn't have another plan.
    2. God's passion for Jusice.  The Scripture is replete with passages about God's desire for justice.  (cf. Psalm 11; Micah 6)  "What if justice is not my thing?"  Then God says, "You're not my thing."

    But the work seems hopeless, scary and hard.  How do we lead in times when these are the circumstances?  Here is what IJM has learned in these times:

    • What have we learned with the task seems hopeless?  By recentering the basis of our hope.  When we focus our eyes on what we do, it leads to dispair.  Hope is recovered when we remember who God is.  If God is passionate about it, he's responsible for it, too.  Jesus asks when he feeds the 5000, "What do you have?" and then invites them to give it to him so that he can do the work through what they have.  Sometimes God is asking you to lead in a situation that seems hopeless and give Him what he have, and that the miracles are His job.
    • What have we learned with the task seems scary?  Jesus didn’t come to make us safe, he came to make us brave.  If my life isn’t scary, I might check if it’s really Jesus I’m following.  Jesus is asking us to lead out of lives of triviality through his passion for justice in the world.  The church today is too often like spending your day in the visitors center, safe, but missing the vigor and life of the real mountain.  "I sense among many of my Christian friends that we're on the journey with Jesus but we're missing the adventure."  God invites us to follow him beyond what we can control, and we will experience Him and His power, and His wisdom and His love.
    • What have we learned with the task seems hard?  God wants to take our strengths on a more demanding climb in which we will actually need Him.  Effective Leadership comes from  four choices:

      +Choosing not to be safe - this will be evidence in our prayer life because our prayerlife will demonstrate that we are out of control and actually need God.  We don't need God at the visitor's center.

      +Choosing deep spiritual health - the more demanding climb requires a higher level of spiritual health.  We can't do hard things without it.  Our devotional lives are boring in the safe, suburban suburb of the safe Christian life.  Our spiritual disciplines, on the demanding climb, have a desperate purpose.  Discipline turns into desperationObedience turns into urgency.  If you want to ignite purpose and passion in the people you lead, lead them to a place that is unsafe in which they need to depend on God.  Real justice in the world is that place.  Nothing will get done unless we take an hour doing nothing but seeking God.

      +Choosing excellence - the church is generally not known for excellence today.  That wasn't always the case.  In years past, the opposite was true.  As Christianity in the last century has moved into climate controlled cul-de-sacs, something has changed.  Rigourous of thought and excellence in execution matters, and in areas of justice it is often a matter of life or death.  Enough of the Christian adjusted scale of mediocrity.  It is bad for those we serve and for our own souls.

      +Choosing to see the joy - Dallas Willard:  "The first thing to disappear when spiritual health declines is laughter." [paraphrase]  It is humorous that God deploys such flawed and humorous people as us for His plan and his appeal to the world.  That's hilarious!!  Jesus came to bring us his joy, to make our joy complete, and to fill us up to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.

    If you think about what Hybels said about axioms, here is Haugen's leadership axiom: If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.

    This all reminds me of a CS Lewis quote that talks about our contentment to make mupdies on the yard in exchange for what we could have - a vacation at the sea.  We are near-sighted, and we exchange the glorious, beautiful, amazing things that God has for us.  So, here's my own personal question:  why do I settle for comfortable, controlled-environment cul-de-sac Christianity instead of seeking the adventurous battle of hopeful, meaningful, and passionate journeying with Jesus as he ushers in his Kingdom of love, justice, and joy?

    "Your courage asks me, 'What am I afraid of?' Your courage asks me, 'What am I made of?'"

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