Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, and the chairman of the board for Willow Creek Association. He convened The Global Leadership Summit in 1995, following a God-given prompting to help raise and develop the spiritual gift of leadership for the local church. Bill is a visionary and exceptional communicator, a sought-after speaker and a best-selling author of more than 20 books. Bill received a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity College in Deerfield, IL. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and one grandson.
Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." Just a reminder, who will build it?
I was speaking once, and I was introduced as the guy who said the quote, "The local church is the hope of the world." Fighting insomnia on the flight on the way home, I googled that phrase. 251 million results popped up. Right at the top, I was listed as the originator of that quote.
I started reading the results, and a certain percentage of people disagreed with me. For a fleeting moment I had been a legend in my own mind.
For the first 18 years of my life if I had to give one quote about the church it would have been, "Hopeless." I didn't say it publicly, but every day quietly and privately. I knew every day I would be only minimally engaged in the church.
I was driving with my dad and a friend of his one day who found out his wife had cancer. My dad told me he was thinking about inviting him to church. I sad, "Oh, no dad, don't do that. It would extinguish any spark of spirituality in him." I wanted to protect people from our church.
In the next phase of my life 18-35, my sentiments about the church would be changing. I started feeling a little bit hopeful. My hope meter went from out of hope to quite hopeful. I was hearing with virgin ears in a college classroom that there was once a community of people totally devoted to God, and they were like a family. They took their masks off and became vulnerable. Bold prayers were prayed. The church rocked with the power of God. Dr. B would end some of these riffs about the local church by challenging the students: "Is God still powerful and on the throne? Are the Scriptures still true today? Then why can't there be a community like this today? And why can't someone in this class give up his or her life plan to build one?" I would sit in the back row and fight off the emotion. I didn't want any of my classmates to know that my heart was beating out of my chest.
After a few months I was a goner. I was seized by a vision. A vision is a powerful thing. It is a vision of the future that creates passion in people. Vision propels people forward who would normally be satisfied with the status quo. People live for visions, and more often than you would know, people die for visions.
Have you ever been seized by a vision? If you have, you would now. Proverbs says that without vision people perished. I got seized by what a church could be, might be. I wound up walking away from the well laid out script for my life, and I swore to myself I would not go to my grave without seeing if something could be done in Chicago to build an Acts 2 church.
I left my home and family behind, the business my father had built to take over his heart. I moved to Park Ridge, IL to help a friend with a youth group. I wrote a chapter in a book about that 36 month period called, "The Wonder Years," because God was moving. I taught 15 year olds how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I taught freshmen in high school how to find their spiritual gifts. I taught those high school kids about the beauty of community, how we could be family to one another. I taught them about the explosive power of the message of Christianity and how it can transform people.
We decided to put an outreach night on the calendar and prayed for friends to come. The promise was that after some fantastic music I would spend 25 minutes talking about what Jesus could do. The music was great, and I laid out the core message of Christianity as clearly as I possibly could.
When I gave the invitation, 250 students stood up. I thought, I must have gotten something wrong. So I asked everyone to sit down. I explained it again. I said, alright, we've done this twice. Now, if you want to accept Jesus, stand up. Even more students stood up. We counseled students until nearly midnight.
I walked outside after locking up and nearly collapsed and said, "God, I will keep doing this if you will keep doing that." God whispered back to me, there is so much more where that came from if you will trust me and if you will follow me.
A couple of years after that we saw the birth of Willow Creek in a movie theater in Palatine, IL, then we saw people give not only everything they had but took out bank loans to purchase the land we're at today. You can see why I moved from the church as utterly hopeless to hopeful.
Another move on how I viewed the church happened. This one in only 45 minutes. I was in an airport in south america. Two kids were fighting. One kid is beating another kid. I drag him off the other kid and he starts throwing punches at me. At that very moment, someone from the airline came and said, “Are you Bill Hybels? The plane is waiting for you.” I said, “I can’t go unless you promise me you’ll take care of this.” They promised they would.
I got on that plane and just wanted to read a sailing magazine, but God said to me, “Don’t just turn the page. I want you to think about the future of that kid. Is he going to go on to be a model citizen or if he’s using fists at 9 years old, is he going to be using knives in high school and end up going to jail and going to hell?” But that is hard to think about. So God just said, “What would change that kids trajectory?” Government? Business? University? Probably not.
So on the airplane headed to Chicago, the realization that the. only thing that would change that kid's life is some fired up Christ follower from some fired up church sharing Christ's love with him. Somewhere in a window seat between San Juan and Chicago, I came to the realization that the local church was the only thing that would change that kids heart. That means that...
The local church is the hope of the world.
And all of those pieces came into place in my mind. I remember walking into the kitchen when I got home, and I said, Lynne, do you realize all of this? She said, "Yes, I realize that. Set the table, the kids are starving." She probably knew all of that, but it was new to me.
I can't communicate to you the depth with which this makes sense to me.
When I went to work the next day, I went to work different. If the local church is the hope of the world, then we gotta get Willow to reach her absolute fullest potential. If the local church is the hope of the world, then each of its members fully matters.
The hope of the world is at stake.
If the local church is the hope of the world, then we've got to get people with leadership gifts to lead, teaching gifts to teach, the rich to care for the poor, invite youth into the activity of the church early on. And as God gives us capacity, we've got to help every single church on planet Earth reach it's potential.
For the last couple of years, one more question has been ricocheting around in my brain.
Will the local church, the hope of the world, be able to sustain itself until the end of time?
Don't answer too quickly. Empires and incredible business institutions have crumbled. So what gives us hope that the Church will endure?
Jesus said, "I will build my church?" That is our hope. He is sustaining it, recreating it, reinventing it. He is the sustainer of the church until the end of time. Almost 40 years ago when I was sitting in that college classroom listening to Dr. B., he would say, this is the only thing he is doing. He's not directing the angelic choir or taking naps. The only thing he's doing is building his Church. He knows it's the hope of the world. He understands.
And I hope you will understand. One of the greatest privileges in all of life is when Jesus taps you on the shoulder and says, "Hey, I have a critical role for you to play as I'm building my church in this world. And part of the reason I called you and redeemed you was so you could step in and play a critical role in the church I am building."
Friends, if you have ever felt that tap or that prompting in your spirit, for God's sake, how do you say no to an invitation like that? How do you say, "Hey God, even though you're building your church? I'm busy building my thing?"
Really? Don't be that guy. You'll regret it forever. That's never made sense to me, how someone can say they love God and He taps them on the shoulder and they can say, "No thanks."
In my view, the prayer of every Christ follower should be, "God, I'm awestruck you would include me in your building your church, so today I joyfully offer myself to you again and commit myself to the role you have given me in building your church. I'll bring my best to you."
Have you ever prayed that prayer? Is it time?
How about praying that prayer every day for the next 30 days and see what happens? Could you imagine if all 2 billion people in the world who claim to follow Jesus prayed that every day? Could you imagine if all 160,000 leaders who are part of the GLS prayed it? We would see demonstrations of supernatural power reminiscent of what we saw in Acts 2. I am aching to see this, and I hope you are too.
I prayed for weeks on how to close the Summit, and the only thing I got was, "Bill, call people unapologetically to join me as I'm building my church.
In this gathering all around the world, there are probably more aggregated gifts, more aggregated potential than probably almost any other gathering in human history.
I'm a leader, so I'm going to do what I've got to do. As a leader, you know what you've got to do. Sometimes you just have to call someone to action. So that's what I'm going to do to you now.
Geoffrey Canada is an American social activist and educator. Since 1990, Canada has been president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York, an organization which states its goal is to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization that describes its aim as expanding educational opportunities for all students. Canada also serves as the Chairman of Children's Defense Fund's Board of Directors.
Q: You often use the word "contamination" to describe what's going on. Can you explain that?
GC: There are places in this country people would panic if their dog got loose. Hope is contagious, but so is despair. There are places where young people can't figure out how to make it without drugs and sex and violence. We've got to contaminate them with positive values.
Q: So some people have said you started some schools, but it's more than that.
GC: You can have a great school in a dying neighborhood, and some kids might get out, but other kids will be left behind. You've got to change a neighborhood. We started with one block. Then we went to two blocks. Some people doubted us at first, but by the third block, they said, you know what, this thing may be possible.
Q: You start very young, with young parents who are pregnant, and you go all the way through.
GC: We've tried to figure out what the least amount of money and time we can spend and change kids, and that's just not the way it works. If you raise a child, there is a no time in that child's life you don't need to be a great parent. You can't take it easy when they're three or four or take a vacation when they're nine. We've got to have programs that start at birth and get them through college.
Let's get them young, let's stay with these kids and guarantee they have a good education. Still today in this country that's not a vision, and we've got to change that.
Q: So in addition to education, you offer medical services, what else?
GC: People are like, okay you start at birth and then move them through, but why all of this medical and dental and whatever.
I used to make this argument that it helps them academically, but I got sick of it. I was like, what decent human being would let a kid grow up without good medical care.
It's not exceptional, what's exceptional is that anyone in the United States wouldn't do this.
Q: How can people help in their communities?
GC: In many places a culture begins to take place, and you're trying to tell them to study and work hard, but they're getting 20 messages a day counteracting that. In these communities that's not sufficient. You've got to change that culture. When you have reached 65-75% of that population, you've reached a tipping point. In these communities we are reaching, you've got to reach a tipping point.
Q: You've used the phrase "against all odds" to describe your story. What happened early in your life?
GC: I know there are people here and around the world who celebrate when people get out of these places. Geoff, you got out of the South Bronx, that's amazing! I watched my friends fall into traps that destroyed their lives.
These places where young people are considered extraordinary if they make it out, I think as Christians we've got to confront that notion that we celebrate a kid makes it out. We need to change those odds. We need to give them the same chance as middle and upper-middle class kids.
Q: Who influenced you most as a young boy.
GC: My mother who is 82 is number 1 in this. She made sure I was going to read.
But my grandmother who has passed away decided she was going to save my soul. She decided when I was 6 or 7 we had to talk. I was sitting around as a 6 year old saying, "I don't get this God thing. If there's an all powerful God, how come I have to deal with all of this?" I had this grandmother who returned the lost money to the police station, and she'd say "Stealing is wrong." She knew this concept that most of us never really understand that there's integrity whether you'll get caught or not. She didn't talk to me like a kid, so we had these debates about God and Jesus. And that woman passed away before knowing she saved my soul.
So when you asked who influenced me, you can talk about the academics and all of that, but that woman saved my soul.
Q: So you launched this experiment and you can tell us you saw all of these amazing results right away, right?
GC: My grandmother told me I can't lie. Failure, when nobody knows who you are, you can deal with that quietly and anonymously. When you're public, it's much harder. Here's half of the problem. I was upset because there were these people who weren't rooting for me. There were people saying, "I knew he couldn't do it." One of the most difficult things is to work really hard and fail, and not just fail but fail publicly.
What you want to do is go and hide, scale down the vision, never take that chance again. Going out and saying, I failed, but I'm going to try twice as hard and I"m going to be successful, that's hard.
Q: You had to make some very challenging personnel decisions. You gave them an extra year. Do you regret that?
GC: It was a mistake. But I love people. I believe in redemption. I believe people get better.
Here I think is the toughest part of my business, of our business. Sometimes you feel like you're working for the staff, when really my mission was the kids. The kids didn't have another year. They didn't get a second chance at this. The idea that I could wait for people to get better, was something I had to learn the hard way wasn't true. I'm still rooting for people, but it's different now. It's easy to let someone go who's lazy and disagreeable. It's hard when someone works hard and is trying. I think the way you build a powerful organization is you demand a level of excellence.
Q: Remembering the ultimate person your serving is huge.
GC: If I had a lot of history that said that person who let me down, the next year was overperforming. Typically, it's pretty evident those who can do the job and those who can't.
Q: You've faced pressure from influential donors. How did you handle that?
GC: I have to raise a lot of money. I know that. I didn't get into this business to raise money. People who like me like me less when I have to raise money.
The donor is like the customer who is always right. You're sitting there trying to figure out where the line is, and there's a line. There's a line where the gift detracts from the work. So I'm sitting there with a person who says, "This is great, but you really have to focus on employment, and I have a lot of money to give you." In the end it would have destroyed my program if I had watered down the vision. Sometimes not taking the money is the smartest thing you can do.
Q: How has your leadership style changed over the years?
GC: My compassion has grown as I've understood how difficult these things are, but I also feel a stronger sense of urgency. I think we've lost our way. I don't think we can have another generation on a pipeline from cradle to prison. So I've gotten more impatient as well.
Looking at these really tough problems there's a tendency to say we can't do it. But when we want to do something, we get it done. We put another rover on Mars. It just means that as Americans we have not put our focus on it and decided this is our core mission.
Q: I've heard you speak on succession planning. Can you share about that.
GC: I find this fascinating because I go to Ken (CEO of AmEx). As life would happen, I went to school at Bowdoin with Ken. What do you think about succession? He said, "The day I walked into this job, there was a succession plan. This is a business. The company has to survive, but there is no intention, no matter how good I am for this company to be worse when I'm gone. There are two or three people in the line of succession who I pay a lot of money not to leave."
So I went to my board and said, "I have to leave this organization when it's on it's way up." There's this thought in the non profit world that it's "your" organization. This institution belongs to the young people who need an opportunity. No one on the board wants to come to you and stay, "Geoff, it's time to go." People start to whisper, but they don't want to tell you it's time to go. So as leaders, we have to tell them, "I'm planning to go, and I have already brought in people to replace me." You can't get great talented people to replace you and not have an exit strategy, because then they start looking at you, like, "He's a little sick today." They have to know when you're leaving.
And if we leave on the way down, the person who takes over is seen as worse because it wasn't as good. You can't wait until you're worn out and tired. I love my job, but I am preparing to leave in the next three years.
Q: Geoffrey, you have been doggedly pursuing this mission for a long time. What would you say about staying the course in the times of disappointment.
GC: I have been in the same job for 30 years. And I say, yes, it's nice to be on TV and all of that, but for most of that time no one knew who I was. We are but a moment in a path to victory. If you get to be celebrated, you have gotten more than most. Probably for hundreds of years there were people struggling and saying "One day" about slavery. Some people never see the reward in their lifetime, but they know they are right.
There is something about fighting for the right cause. You will be part of the process of getting towards victory even if it's not in your lifetime.
Q: You know, you could always be a preacher...
How does faith play a role in your life and work.
GC: My grandfather was a pastor. My grandmother was an ordained minister. My mother was. My wife just became an ordained minister.
But I don't want to give you a flip answer because I grew up in the 60s, and I would be in church listening to my grandfather preaching and then walk out of the church and there'd be drug addicts on the streets and kids growing up without parents. And I said, this isn't what Jesus had in mind. This is a con job.
I was going through a rough patch my sophomore year in college, one of my twin sons died, my brother was killed in a car accident two months later, and I found out on my way home that my grandmother had cancer that was incurable. I went to my grandmother and I was angry. I said, "You're the most God honoring person I know. How can you sit there and tell me you have faith." She said, "Geoff, it's easy to have faith when everything is going great. The real test of faith is when you're faced with something that only your faith will keep you believing in God." I looked into her eyes and realized she wasn't kidding.
I realized I had to step back because if there was something so powerful it could keep you through that, maybe I should give this faith thing a second chance.
In the end, if you have faith, it will pull you through anything. My faith has gone 180 degrees from where it was before.
Q: What one thing would you say to leaders?
GC: People are watching us all the time, and this issue of your moral compass, I believe if you're a leader in our business, you've got to bat 100%. You've always got to be on your game. Why is it that folks wait to get to be leaders before they decide to cheat on their wife, steal money, become abusive. I would challenge us all as leaders to get that moral compass right. Every time you have a leader who gains some notoriety who acts up, it causes all of these people on the fence to say, "I knew it wasn't true. They were lying." Get your moral compass right and you'll save not only yourself but a bunch of other people too.
John Ortberg is passionate about “spiritual formation,” which is how people become more like Jesus. His teaching brings Scripture alive and invariably includes practical applications and warm humor. John is the author of many books, including “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” and “The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Growth for Ordinary People”, and his latest book, “The Me I Want To Be“. He has recently partnered with Monvee, an online spiritual assessment tool that helps individuals and churches create handcrafted spiritual growth plans. John is Senior Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, a 4,000-member church in Northern California with campuses in Menlo Park, Mountain View, and San Mateo.
I live 30 minutes south of San Francisco. Why is there a San Francisco? Because there was a man named Saint Francis inspired by Jesus.
I live 30 minutes north of San Jose. Why is there a San Jose? Because there was a man named Saint Joseph inspired by Jesus.
The capital of my state is Sacramento? Why is there a sacrament? Why
If anyone feels inadequate to lead for Jesus, this is for you. Eugene Peterson grew up in a Christian home but was picked on by a second grade bully. "I don't know why he picked on me, but he knew I was a Christian and picked on me. My mother told me this was the way of Christians in the world, and I should pray for him. One day, something snapped. I grabbed Garrison, wrestled him to the ground and sat on his arms. I hit him in the face with my fists. Blood spurted from his nose, a lovely crimson in the snow. I said, 'say uncle' he wouldn't say it. I hit him again. My Christian training asserted itself and I said, 'Say, I believe in Jesus as my Lord and savior.' He wouldn't say it, so I did it again. Garrison Johns was my first convert."
Regardless of what anyone may personally think about Jesus, he has been the dominate figure in western culture for 20 centuries.
Regardless of what you think about Jesus, just look at him objectively and look at his influence. You have to ask, who was this man?
The ancient world was a darker and crueler place than what people know. There was the world that Jesus saw could be. And there was the world Jesus touched.
Too often we talk about Christianity, but we need to marvel at Jesus.
Leaders especially need to expand their vision of Jesus' impact because it is a movement that has reshaped history and is not done. For the next few moments, let's just marvel at Jesus.
It would be hard to choose a less likely candidate to change the world. He never read a book, never travelled abroad. His followers were unschooled, ordinary men.
Yet, it is hard to imagine the world without him.
Jesus gave the world it's most influential movement.
Imagine no Notre Dame, Willow Creek, house churches in China, Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu.
In the ancient world there were tribal religions, philosophical schools, etc. The church was none of these (Colossians 3:11).
There's a place called Disneyland and a ride called Small World where there is represented cultures from around the world. Where before Jesus was there a movement that tried to include everyone? Not only never had there been such a community before, there wasn't the idea of a community.
Who else brings together Jesse Jackson and Jerry Fallwell, Jim Collins and Jim Dobson.
As a matter of historical reality, it began with a poverty-stricken, crucified carpenter.
Jesus changed how we think about history.
Before we thought in cycles, just an endless series of ups and downs. Over time, the power of every Caesar and their grip on the human imagination failed. It was replaced. By the 6th century a monk proposed a new calendar based on Jesus. And it wasn't just a chronological convenience. It was a statement that the world was going somewhere, and Jesus is the central figure in history.
If you had to bet on Caesar or the carpenter having more lasting influence, who would you bet on?
Jesus is the king of kings and lord of lords. Every ruler that has ever reigned is now dated in light of Jesus.
Jesus shaped how we express compassion.
In ancient Greece and Rome, the beautiful, strong, and wealthy were admired. The weak and marginal weren't really valued. Seneca said, "We drown children who are week and vulnerable. Girls were often left to die. there were 1.4 boys for every 1 girl. There was this little group who began to take in children. There began this practice of godparents who would take care of children when their parents died. There's a book entitled, "When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity." Widows who were fined by Rome because they were seen as a drag on society were taken in by the Church.
There were two epidemics in the Roman empire that wiped out 1/4-1/3 of the population of cities. They were literally throwing people out before they had died because they could be contagious. Christians brought them in at risk to themselves because Jesus cared for lepers and the blind and the deaf and the mute.
In the 4th century, the first hospital was founded by Benedict. By the 6th century hospitals were often attached to monasteries.
When you hear about the Red Cross, Easter Seals, Goodwill, The Salvation Army... you see the touch of Jesus.
People who weren't perfect were viewed in the ancient world as people to be discarded. Jesus changed this.
This is not to say there would be no compassion in the world without Christianity, and those of us who follow Jesus often fall far short.
One scholar wrote, if you ask what the impact of Jesus has been on compassion and medicine, if you look at any organization that serves and cares for the sick, it probably has its roots in the Jesus movement.
The Jesus movement shaped education.
Formal education was reserved for boys, not for girls and certainly not for slaves. But Jesus said to go out and teach everyone, so they did, man and woman, slave and free. Monastic communities were for many years the only place for the preservation of classical texts. Most universities were founded in the name of Jesus.
The Reformation and desire for people to be able to read the Bible led to near universal literacy.
Alfred North Whitehead was asked what made it possible for science to emerge. His answer, "The medieval insistance on the rationality of God." This is not to say science wouldn't have otherwise emerged, but it did here.
Clocks were invented because monks needed to know when to pray.
Eyeglasses were needed for monks to read Scripture.
Dom Perrignon was a monk who invented champagne because there were no Baptists yet to tell him it was wrong.
Followers of Jesus created alphabets and written versions of languages to bring the Scripture to peoples.
Who was this man?
The Jesus movement revolutionized art.
Dante, Bach, Mozart, Gregorian Chants. Modern music notation was an invention of the medieval church. No Sistine Chapel without Jesus.
The Jesus movement changed political theory.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar's. Give to God what is God's.
It was assumed that religion was the prerogative of the ruler, but Jesus said, no, the state answers to higher power.
For what it's worth, the church usually follows Jesus worse when it has political power than when it doesn't.
Jesus changed how we think of human rights and dignity.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights..." Where did that come from? No one said that in the ancient world.
People often say they think of a God of love. Why? No one thought that in the ancient world.
One day this man Jesus said God is like a father who is filled with unquenchable love for everyone on the planet.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is the first expression of egalitarianism in human literature.
The abolition of slavery and equality of women were movements overwhelmingly led by followers of Jesus.
Jesus uniquely taught love of enemies.
In the ancient world you helped your friends and harmed your enemies.
There was once a man who said what is best in life is turn the other cheek, go with them two miles, love your enemy. And those weren't just words. When he was being executed he said, "Father, forgive them. For they do not know what they do."
His followers remember this and begin to die the same way. Nero would take followers of Jesus and cover them in pitch and use them as human torches for gladiator games.
Regardless about what you think about Jesus, this is profound.
"The discoverer of the role of forgiveness in the role of human affairs was Jesus." Hannah Arendt
The real question isn't who was this man but who is this man?
He is the king of kings, lord of lords, greatest giver of gifts, he launched the greatest movement the world has ever known.
What might happen if the Jesus impact on your world were to grow greater in the next generation than ever before in history?
Will you be that man? Will you be that woman? Will you devote yourself to that man and the expanded vision of his kingdom.
He is the son of God, the glorfied savior of humankind, the savior of the world.
The world is waiting for a fresh conversation, a fresh vision of this man.
Mario Vega is senior pastor of the Elim Church, located in San Salvador and the second largest church in the world—approximately 11,000 cell groups and 110,000 people attending the cells. Mario Vega is also the principal leader of the international Elim movement which has spawned approximately 125 churches around the world. Mario is the author of several books. He lives in San Salvador, El Salvador with his wife, Cecilia, and son, José. His website is: www.elim.org.sv.
Thank you for your presentation, that was a very good introduction. It was so good I thought it was for another person.
Todays theme I want to base on a scripture, 1 Sam 15:34-16:1:
Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Samuel Anoints David
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
The account that i have just read takes us back to approximately 1000 BC. The age of iron was coming to an end and the people groups of the middle east were transitioning to powerful monarchies. The people of Israel continued to be a nation of tribal chiefs who moved over small territories. This led to a position of weakness before their neighboring enemies, and there had been no clear leader to unify them. Until that point they had relied solely on God for their protection, but the people decided ti was time to become a monarchy and build a mighty army.
This paved the way for Saul. Samuel was God's prophet and played an important role in the appointment of Saul as king. Saul was humble and unassuming in his early years and endeared himself to Samuel, who was extremely proud of Saul.
But on one occasion Saul deliberately disobeyed the instructions of the Lord and allowed himself to be carried away by greed, stealing some cattle from the spoils of war. Saul tried to hide his greed by saying it was for an offering, but God was not interested in offerings but obediences.
Because of this failure, God no longer viewed Saul as a person qualified to continue as king. Some of you may think that God was too harsh in rejecting Saul for a single act of disobedience, but there are defining moments in the life of a man that reveal his character. There are certain actions that people of integrity refuse to engage in. These values have been seared in their conscience. And for them the line that separates right from wrong is clearly defined in their mind.
But when a person engages in dishonest living, they reveal their lack of character. Saul's disobedience was just the tip of the ice revealing his selfish condition. Saul's lifestyle after that act proves GOd had not been too harsh. Saul grew violent and profane. He mass murdered the temple priests. In his uncontrollable ambition, he tried to murder his own son and pursued David as an obsession.
Those who allow themselves the liberty of moral failure open the door for greater failures to come. Charisma and skills were not enough to keep him on the throne of Israel. Integrity of character was far more important.
It was difficult for Samuel to accept Saul's rejection as king, and he grieved over it. This situation brought Samuel to an ethical crossroads. Samuel would now have to choose between his love for God and his love for his friend Saul. In other words between his loyalty to his values and his loyalty to Saul. The moral failure of a leader will challenge the integrity of many others as well.
Samuel knew that appointing another king would damage his influence with Saul, but Samuel determined to remain firm in doing what was right. This is the deep reason that Samuel never again saw Saul's face. Their friendship was forever ruined.
In 1977 I came to know a church by the name of Elim in my country, San Salvador. The church had only been started three months earlier and was only about 25 people. The pastor and I quickly became friends. Two years later I was sent to start another Elim church in another city.
In spite of the difference, each week I would travel to spend the entire day with my pastor friend. And as the years went by we became very close friends. My pastor's church started to grow very rapidly. In one year it went from 3000 to 9000 people. The pastor's ministry was impressive and became a model that many followed. The church continued to grow consistently until we reached our first 50,000 people. On top of this, other congregations were started in and outside of the country.
What had started as one single church had grown to be a denomination. All of this happened in the span of 20 years. This phenomenal growth had not affected my friendship with the pastor. It continued to grow.
In mid-1995, he decided to form a board to lead the denomination. As a trusted friend and the first ordained pastor at Elim, he placed me on the board along with other key pastors.
Shortly afterwards we discovered the pastor had fallen in moral failure. I refused to believe the allegations, but the facts remained undeniable.
Ironically, the first decision the board had to make after receiving authority from our pastor was to have him resign from his pastoral duties. In an effort to protect his image and future ministry, we made the mistake of keeping his failure a secret.
We hoped that he would be spiritually restored and manage to save his marriage and return to his public ministry. Unfortunately, things did not go the way we anticipated. To the contrary, the pastor's behavior became even worse. Clear leadership problems began to surface within the church, and troublemakers began to rock the church.
For the first time the church showed signs of cracking. After two years the pastor showed no outward signs of permission and eventually submitted his resignation, but behind the scenes a division was brewing.
As a result, the board asked me to step up to the place of leadership. For 17 years I had been working in another city. There I had started a church that had grown to 7000 people. I had no interest in returning to the capital city, much less to take charge of a church that seemed about to fall apart.
But God had already been speaking to my heart, and I had the sense that this pastor was not moving to restoration. It was a difficult situation because accepting this position of leadership would alienate me from the pastor who viewed me as his very close friend. I talked with him one last time, trying to make him reflect and think, but he had resolved not to return to the church unless we accepted his immoral lifestyle.
I found myself, with my back against the wall and no where to turn. I had to choose, would I be with God, or would I be with man. I made a decision to choose God with what I deemed was right.
17 years have gone by since that crucial decision. Throughout all these years I have rarely seen my former pastor. When someone's values and life principles are different, life's road begins to pull people apart, and only by accident do their lives cross again.
There were many who thought I had failed my pastor as a friend for stepping up to take his place as leader of the church, but only God knows how much pain, how much anguish, and how much death to self was wrapped up in that decision.
Would you like to know about that difficult process? Then come with me to Samuel's dark night and discover the process that the prophet had to walk through.
The first phase in this difficult process was denial. Samuel's pain was so deep that he could not accept the truth. He could not accept the fact that Saul would no longer be king. He grieved that for so little he had lost the entire kingdom. Everything had happened so quickly, and it seemed like a bad nightmare that Saul had been rejected. He expected that God would change his mind at the last moment, but God's decision was final. The sun went down, and the anguish continued to oppress his heart. His grief was uncontrollable, and he had to confront the new reality.
He entered the second phase of this process. He entered into the phase of depression, the depression that triggers an understanding of his difficult duty, a difficult duty, but one that leaves us with no options. Saul was not who he thought he was. He lacked a healthy fear of God. And the evidence was undeniable. There was no turning back. Integrity lost cannot be fully restored. Samuel searched for an alternative that would not involve firing Saul, but there were no other options.
About midnight Samuel entered the third phase, the process of acceptance. He had to come to terms with the fact that Saul would no longer be king. He felt alone and desolate. If Saul would no longer be king, then who would be. If Samuel was truly the prophet of God, then it would be his responsibility to anoint the new king, but this would alienate him from Saul. And wouldn't this also be a contradiction? Hadn't he been the one responsible for appointing Saul? Would he have to appoint another leader?
The light of the new day surprised Samuel still aching with inner pain, but this process would not be complete until he heard the voice of God saying, "How long will you grieve over Saul since I rejected him as King over Israel?"
The voice of God introduced him to the fourth phase. It was time for action, time to appoint a new king, not time to look at the past but at the future. THe plans of God were still on course. It was time to turn the page over and move into action. The heart finds comfort with every new step of integrity, so Samuel went into action, filled his horn with oil, dried up his last tears, and moved forward. It was time to anoint the new king of Israel.
Leadership rises and falls on the decisions that are being made. Are you facing a difficult decision? Are you allowing your personal bias to influence your decision? Maybe you are going through your own dark night of grieving.
It's difficult when you have to decide over people's lives, but you cannot delegate these decisions. Give yourself permission to hurt, to cry and to walk through depresssion. But never give yourself permission to avoid doing what is right. Never give yourself permission to remain in the valley of depression. Find a counselor if you need help, but don't remain there. Look to tomorrow. God has more for you.
This is the healthiest choice for all parties involved and is the best choice for you. Every right decision that a leader makes will strengthen his influence. You will never regret doing what is just and walking with integrity, and when the years pass by, they will reveal justice and integrity in your actions. In light of these thoughts, be courageous, be strong, live with integrity, the Lord is with you.
Gary Haugen: Leaders lead out of who they are on the inside. Gloriously or tragically, you and I are going to end up leading out of who we are on the inside.
Pranitha Timothy rescues people out of literal slavery. She has led more than 50 slave rescue operations with the Indian authorities and rescued nearly 4000 people from slavery. That's nearly 4000 men, women, and children that Pranitha knows by name. Over and over again, she has stood up in court to expose these very violent criminals, and by the word of her testimony, justice comes, and she walks with those who are former slaves.
This work that she does is dangerous. Every time she says goodbye to her family and goes on a rescue operation, she doesn't really know if she's going to come back.
What does it take to be a leader with that kind of strength and courage on the inside? There's no one I'd rather have us learn from than my friend, clleague and most humble hero, Pranitha Timothy.
I know that the restoration of people is not easy. Two Americans have changed the course of my life. One day at the end of my social work masters while sitting in a chapel, I was crying and asking God what to do with my life. The chapel speaker was reading Isaiah 42, and I clearly heard God telling me this is what I was to do with my life.
1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
What a beautiful mission. I heard God's call to be a light to the nations, to establish justice on earth, for those who are in captivity and darkness.
Weeks later I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was choking my nerves. I had lost 60% of of the strength in my muscles. I had surgery but I could no longer speak.
I went back to Isaiah 42, which says, "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets." I could not cry out, but I began working faithfully. After two years, God gave me this voice, feeble but powerful in his hands.
It's been 15 years. In my job I travel to the most dangerous parts of my own country. BUt this physical pain has never left me. But it reminds me that God's grace is sufficient for me.
But the restoring of my voice was not the greatest miracle I have seen, it was His renewal of my heart. Growing up, my parents were missionaries, and I swore I would never become a Christian. I hated Christ for separating me from my family and making me grow up in boarding schools. I had no morality. I was self-destructive through my addictions.
My nickname in college was CC, cold and calculated. I was eventually expelled from college for my behavior. I had reached a place where nothing good could come out of me. I realized in my brokenness that my only hope was the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I knew that I needed his power to overcome the darkness. At last I embraced it.
The prophet writes, "God took this heart of stone and gave me the heart of flesh." Today I am able to feel emotion. My calling is my response to the freedom I have in Christ.
God has transformed my heart through three truths.
We are called to serve.
God showed me very early in my work with IJM that I am no hero. Time and time again I have heard stories of slaves who cried out to a God they did not know, and He sent our team.
I know I cannot do anything without God, but being humble does not mean God will not require anything of me that requires great strength.
This life belongs to God.
The proper source of strength and courage is not willful determination but to remember that my life is God's and my strength is his.
A few years ago my colleagues discovered this rice mill where dozens were enslaved by a cruel owner who beat them. When we worked with the government to plan a rescue operation, someone tipped him off and he drove them away in a truck. It was no hero's entry. We arrived and no one was there. The IJM surveillance team went out praying for a miracle that only God could bring. Truly by the hand of God they located the truck 14 miles away. We thought it was over, but the authorities insisted they go back to the rice mill to identify their belongings. The laborers knew the owners would kill them. Sure enough, when we drove into the rice mill we were surrounded by a mob waiting to attack us. The women and children began crying. They were afraid they would die. They took away the keys and surrounded us. ALl we could do was pray. It is in these moments we must believe our lives are not alone. I can tell you what happened next. God confused the crowd. And after a four hour seige, the mob cleared a path and allowed us to leave. We were safe, the laborers were save, and we were able to bring laborers out of slavery into new lives of freedom.
There have been many times like this when my life was in jeopardy and thought I would never see my family again, but I remember that my life is not my own.
God is good.
It would be easy for me to tell you only of the victories, the stories that end in the way I hope they would. But our faith must encompass a God who is good even when what we see in the world is not good. When we see the lasting scars, when we see the pain that humans inflict on one another. When laborers are hidden away so we could not find them. When former slaves succumb to illness. Our belief that God is good underpins all of our rescue work and brings us hope that God can transform even the most hopeless cases. We know our God is powerful to do anything. We know he is good. So we have hope.
We are still working with the people we rescued from the rice mill. Their lives are no longer perfect.
This girl who was once cold and calculating was able to help rescue them. God hears the cries of our heart because he is a God who is good.
William L. Ury co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation and is currently a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He is the author of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No & Still Get to Yes (2007) and co-author (with Roger Fisher) of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, an eight-million-copy bestseller translated into over thirty languages.
Jim: So, you've dedicated an entire career to conflict resolution, how did you get into this?
WU: I never understood why in the cold war we were willing to risk all of life itself because of a conflict between two countries. If we were to look back at now, it would be the great global family reunion, the linking of all people groups through communication. And like family reunions, it's not all peace and joy.
Jim: Why do you think this topic is relevant for everyone?
WU: I see negotiation very broadly as the act of back and forth discussion to reach agreement. We all negotiate with family, spouse, kids, parents, colleagues, board, congregation, vendors, constituents, governments. Think about how much time you spend engaged in back and forth communication to reach agreement, no matter how small. We're negotiating literally from the time we get up in the morning to the time we go to bed at night.
Now, how many of htese decisions could you have made unilaterally and how many did you need to negotiate? It's really the core competence for leadership.
Jim: In you're book you talk about how we have flatter organizations and so you don't have authority over the people you need something from, so you have to negotiate.
WU: If we're going to get our jobs done, we need to negotiate.
Jim: You say the goal isn't the elimination of conflict.
WU: Conflict isn't bad. It's natural. No injustice or unfairness gets addressed without conflict. Competition makes business work. In democracy we need differeing viewpoints.
The question is, can we deal with conflicts in a constructive way?
Jim: In your experience, what is the greatest obstacle to success in negotiation?
WU: It's not the difficult person. It's ourselves. We are the biggest barrier to us achieving success. It's a very natural, human, all too understandable tendency to react. When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret. Email is horrible for this. You get angry and hit the rely button. The most important button we never use is that one, "Save as Draft." The key to successful negotiation is to go to a mental, emotional, spiritual balcony where you can get a place of clarity and keep your eyes on the prize.
If I could give you a personal story as an example. A number of years ago I was working in Venezuela and people were on the streets. I was working with the President. At midnight I was brought in to see the President and the cabinet, and I said it seemed like they were making progress. The President started ranting and yelling at me for 30 minutes. I'm about to get in an argument, and then I realized, wait, is it in my interests to get into an argument with the President of Venezuela. After 30 minutes his shoulders sagged a bit and in a weary voice he said, "So, Ury, what should I do?" I said, "give everyone a break, let people go see their families." He invited me to spend Christmas with him.
What I learned is that one of the greatest powers we have in negotiation is not to react. To get centered again.
Jim: What are the skills we need to learn to get better at negotiation?
WU: Focus on the people.
Look at the needs of all.
Jim: Talk about separating people from the problem.
WU: The mistake we make is that when someone is a key customer or congregation member, we end up being soft on the person and the problem. OR we make the opposite mistake. We're hard on the people and on the problem.
Successful negotiators are soft on the people and hard on the problem. You need to listen, put yourself in the shoes of the other side, that may be the most important thing. Understand how they feel. Negotiation is an exercise in influence. You're trying to change someone's mind. The cheapest concession you can make is to give someone basic human respect.
Jim: As believers, one of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. We don't want to be unkind to people, but you're telling us we can be kind to the person without being soft on the problem.
WU: That's it. You're trying to change the game from face-to-face conversation to being side-by-side tackling the problem.
Jim: Focusing on interests, not positions?
WU: What you're actually trying to do is address the underlying interests or fears or needs. What you end up doing is focusing on the positions people are taking, how much money they want, etc. Behind the position, help me understand what your needs actually are.
Jim: Developing multiple options, what's so important about that?
WU: Once you have the interests, then we can get creative about how to solve this.
Jim: I actually find this part pretty fun when you can sit with the organization and find an option rather than just trying to split the benefits in half.
Let's talk about the power of objective criteria and fair process.
WU: What you're doing is taking what is so often seen as a fixed pie and trying to expand it with the creative process, but there are times when you reach a limit to the size of the pie.
Often this becomes a question of will and ego. It becomes, "I'm not giving in!" And suddenly something you could have resolved in an hour drags on for weeks.
Two aerospace companies were going to merge and problems arose. Which CEO was going to be CEO? Which company was going to relocate? So they began to look at what was objective criteria of fairness. The CEO who was younger deferred. They looked at who was closer to the customer base. Well, the company near DC was closer to the customer base.
Because they resolved the big things that way, the individual departments did that too. They deferred to what was right. This company has gone to merge 30 other times, and they've done it on the basis of fairness, so everyone wants to merge with them.
Jim: It's not long if you're reading any books on negotiation you run into the term BATANA. How does that differ from an absolute bottom line?
WU: Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement
What are we going to do if we're not able to reach an agreement with the other side? It's not negative thinking. It's alternative positive thinking.
You're going to negotiate with more confidence if you have an alternative. And you can't effectively negotiate until you know how good or bad your alternative is. If you have a good alternative, you shouldn't take a bad negotiated deal. If you have a bad alternative, even a bad deal might be better.
Jim: You've been completely dedicated to bringing peace around the world and are most interested in situations where people have completely given up. The middle east seems to be just that sort of place. Do you have much hope for what's going on there, and what are you doing to help bring resolution.
WU: There's an old saying that some conflicts are so difficult they can only be healed by a story. For me, the story of Abraham has that potential. We all know the story. Can we revive an ancient way of making peace, going for a walk, side by side, as Abraham did.
We've been trying to open up Abraham's path in the middle east, to allow people to go into villages, receive Abrahamic hospitality. We are one family, children of Abraham in that sense.
The virtue of Abraham was hospitality, kindness. All the way from Turkey where he hears the call to Haran where he is buried, we have opened up places along the way where people can stop in. What I want to do is invite all of you and your congregations to make the path real by walking.
There's an old Spanish poem, "Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking." Our site is abrahampath.org. Our motto is less talk, more walk.
Jim: Any final words to the church leaders to help resolve our conflicts well and usher in peace?
WU: Let me tell you one last story from Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, Abraham was feeling very heavy about how to bind the wounds of the nations, so he was speaking one day in the White House sympathetically about the south. A patriot objected. He said, "Madam, do I not destroy my enemy when I turn them into my friend."
That to me is what getting to yes is all about. It's about destroying our enemies by turning them into our friends.
Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, Inc., a specialized management-consulting firm focused on organizational health. Lencioni is the author of nine best-selling books with nearly 3 million copies sold. After several years in print, his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team continues to be a fixture on national best-seller lists. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job became an instant best-seller in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and BusinessWeek. And his latest work, Getting Naked, was released in February 2010.
This is the most important talk I've given in terms of my career. But this is simple. People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.
Two years ago, almost to the day, I was in Dallas at Southwest Airlines. I'm lucky to count them as a client. I was sitting there listening to these amazing presentations about the great things they do to make their customers happy. I was sitting next to Gary their CEO. I said, "Gary, why don't your competitors do any of this." It was a rhetorical question, but he said, "Honestly, I think they think it's beneath them."
The things Southwest does that makes them great, so many
Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in business. It is virtually free and accessible to any leader who wants it, and yet it remains virtually untapped in many organizations.
To many leaders think it's beneath them, not measurable enough.
The best way to understand organizational health is to contrast it with something we're more familiar with.
In order for any organization no matter the size has to do to be great is be:
Smart - Good at finance strategy marketing technology, etc. I started at Bain as a management consultant to help companies be better in these things, and they're great things. THe problem is it's only half the equation and it gets 98% of the attention today
Healthy - Minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, low turnover.
CEOs I talk to would give their left leg to make their organization healthy, but they don't know how to do it.
We're more comfortable in finance and strategy or in churches with music and theology, but if we really want to change our organizations, we have to make them healthier.
Thirty years ago, the smart things were still largely untapped, but now everyone has access to those, so you can't distinguish yourself with the stuff on the left.
Southwest is a fabulous organization not because they're smarter, they probably have fewer PhDs, etc. They're healthier, and so they use every bit of knowledge they have.
How do you make your organization healthy. There are four disciplines:
Build a cohesive leadership team
The leadership team also has to be intellectually aligned. They have to be on the same page. Mission statements can be great, but so many of them read like the Dunder Mifflin mission statement. What you really have to do is answer six critical questions.
Why do we exist?
Every organization at its core has to know why it exists at the highest, most basic level. This is easy for churches, but for others, not so much.
Mary Kay is a really interesting one because it has nothing to do with making women more powerful. It's about empowering them in business.
I asked a team at a paving company why the company exists. They didn't really know, and finally the CEO said, really it's to employ all of these people who are first generation Americans.
Southwest is about democratizing travel in America so that people can travel even if they don't have a lot of money.
This isn't just fluffy stuff for a t-shirt. It defines how your organization acts. Southwest had to decide if they were going to add bag fees.
How do we behave?
This is one that churches don't have such an easy time with.
Every company has value statements these days, but they tend to be every good thing you could possibly do and be. Love and customer service and community relations...
The truth of the matter is, when we talk about how we behave, we have to get that down to the 1 or 2 or maybe 3 endemic behaviors that make our organization truly different.
We have to avoid confusing these with aspirational values, values we wish we had but we don't.
A core value is something you're willing to get punished for. You'll do it even if it's not convenient or you're going to get punished for it. Humor is a core value for Southwest. They make jokes during the safety announcements. Years ago when Herb Kelleher was still in charge, a woman was offended by jokes during the safety briefing and wrote Herb. Most companies would have written back and said, "We're so sorry." And send a drink coupon or something. Southwest sent her a note that said, "We'll miss you."
When somebody asks you to violate a core value, you lovingly recognize that might not be the place for them.
Violating your core values is like selling your soul. That's why you don't have many of them.
Sometimes you have a core value, people take it a little too far. The rumor is there was a Southwest pilot who spilled coffee on himself and he took off his clothes. Now, they disciplined him and all that, but I'm guessing the leaders laughed behind closed doors later.
Churches really confuse this sometimes because they confuse it with permission to play values. Those are minimum standards just to work at the organization. The hard thing is when you have a church is the minimum standards are critical and huge. And those are important, but it's not enough, because when you have core values, it's not enough to be qualified. You have to be in alignment with the core values. Obviously someone should be welcome to be in the congregation, but you shouldn't hire them for your staff. Sometimes churches struggle to use core values because someone "loves Jesus." But that's not enough.
What do we actually do?
How will we succeed?
This is strategy. What is strategy?
The myriad of intentional decisions you make to run your organization to succeed and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
It boils down to three strategic anchors through which you make every decision. Suddenly decision making becomes a science and not just a guess.
Southwests anchors are: Make your customers fanatically loyal. Don't make your plane late. And keep your fares low. All decisions are made through those lenses. You can show up with a ticket at a different airport and they'll let you get on if they have seats. Try that at another airline! You'll be in line for ever and pay insane change fees. They don't have a strategy.
Years ago I was flying before they changed their seating strategy, and I suggested to this young woman that they put seats in for the folks who were standing in line forever, and she said that would raise costs and cause fares to go up. She understood.
What is most important, right now?
Who must do what?
If we can answer these six questions, we actually create empowerment, and not just as a buzzword.
Overcommunicate the anchors
I wish organizational health were a standard like the smart things. That will change the world, change society, change us as people.
Until that happens it represents a great opportunity for meaningful competitive advantage.
Yesterday Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, shared a piece of her testimony. She had grown in up in the church but as an adult, she had become a woman of faith... just not an explicitly Christ-centered faith.
A central piece of her journey back towards Christ was Bill Hybels' prayer for her when she was a speaker at the Global Leadership Summit and his continuing follow up to encourage her in her faith.
I was certainly inspired by her testimony, but I was also challenged by the actions of Bill Hybels, his willingness to ask someone who didn't have a faith in Christ to pray with him, his willingness to put himself out there, to risk alienating someone in an effort to help them understand the truth of Christ and the Gospel.
Bill's gentle evangelism is a challenge to me to be more intentional about telling those around me about Jesus.
Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a multi-site church based out of Oklahoma and stretching across several states. It is one of the largest and most innovative churches in the United States. Craig is a sought-after speaker and the author of numerous books, including the recently released Soul Detox.
My assignment is to talk to you today about bridging the generational gap. There is very clearly a gap today not only in ministry but in the business world as well. I will speak mostly from the ministry perspective because I am a pastor, but I think you can make a jump pretty easily to the business world.
I would not be speaking to you today if it were not for those who had gone before me. I am here today because of the women and men who have gone before me and invested in me.
I ended up as a regular attender at Pastor Nick's church. One Sunday he said next Sunday is bring a friend to church day. So I thought I'd listen to my pastor. I had just graduated from college where I had been president of my fraternity and still had some influence, so I told them we were all going to church.
Pastor Nick said if you were a friend who was brought or brought someone yourself, stand up. So me and two full rows of hungover frat boys stood up. He said, okay everyone sit down unless you brought someone. So they all sat down and I was left standing. So Nick hired me. And that's how I was called into ministry.
Nick taught me so much. He taught me how to illustrate the Bible with the Bible. How to lead staff meetings. How to do hospital visits.
I was scared to death on my first hospital visit. I was 23. My pastor said, just say what's on your heart. I walked in and said, "Wow, you looked bad." My pastor said, from now on just lie for the glory of God.
He said, whenever you're speaking and forget the next thing you're going to say, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes. He said, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes.
I would not be doing what I am doing today if a pastor hadn't taken a chance on a 23 year old kid.
Tragically, though, there's not enough of that in the world, especially in the ministry world. So what I want to do is talk to the older generation and then the younger generation as someone who stands for a short period in the middle.
If you're not dead, you're not done. God values maturity.
You do not just delegate tasks to the next generation, because if you delegate tasks, you'll create followers. We delegate authority, because then we create leaders.
My pastor hired me on to create a young adult ministry. I asked him how to do it, and he knew, but he told me, "That's what I hired for you for." Within boundaries, he gave me freedom.
To the older generation, especially in the ministry world, I would just implore you, embrace the season you're in. They can smell a fake from a mile away. Don't try to be cool. Authenticity trumps cool every single time. Be yourself. Care, love them. The next generation will line up for miles.
My pastor was like a pastoral father to me, and when I finally hit 40 or so, I still wanted to be the big brother to everyone. But it was when Pastor Herbert Cooper came up to me and said, "You are my spiritual father." I said, "no, no." And we went back and forth. And he said, "Listen to me. I need a spiritual father, and you are mine." And he said, "And I am your black son."
When he said it to me, something switched inside of me and I realized I can be a spiritual father to those who come after me. You can be a coach a mentor to those who are coming after you.
To those in the younger generation, let me talk to you for a moment.
You need those who come after you more than you can imagine.
Dr. Tim Elmore wrote about a survey of executives who were asked about the next generation. There was one word they used to describe them more than any other. The twenty-somethings were surprised to learn it was entitled.
Now you don't even have to win a single game to get a trophy. We protected that generation. Put on your helmet to go potty.
Because you feel entitled, you typically overestimate what you can do in the short run. What Nick said to me was, "You'll overestimate what you can do in the short run, but you'll grossly underestimate what you can do through a lifetime of faithfulness."
I asked my pastor one time, "Why did you let me lead up?" He said it was because you always honored me. Andy Stanley says honor publically yields to influence privately.
I think one reason we don’t honor those around us is because we don’t adequately honor God. Honor values others. Dishonor devalues them. Once we learn to honor God, we will begin to honor those around us.
Some people say, If my pastor, boss, etc. were honorable, maybe I’d show honor to them. Respect is earned, but honor is given. Some of you in the younger generation need to repent because you need to show honor to those above you.
If you ever want to be over, you need to honor those under you.
I want to get real practical and talk about what this looks like in my organization and what it can look like in yours.
For the generations to work together, we have to be intentional. How do you do this?
Create feedback loops between those who are older and younger. Before I teach at our church each week, I sit with those who are much older and those who are much younger. I want to know from a 22 year old single girls perspective, how does this not speak to you and how can I do better. I want to know the same thing for a 55 year old divorced man.
Create specific mentoring moments. Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit with one of the greatest business leaders in our country. I had my pencils out. A few weeks ago I sat down with the sharpest 18-24 year olds in our country. If you are not intentional, it will not happen.
Those of you who are younger, ask someone who is older, “Will you mentor me? Will you speak into my life?” They’ll be flattered. Come and ask them questions like crazy. Don’t try to copy what they do. YOu’re not them, but you can learn how they think.
Create opportunities for significant leadership development. We had what we called a developmental weekend where we wanted to develop new speakers. We said, everyone gets two services on a weekend, and in a weekend we trained 38 new speakers to deliver God’s word. No one got up there without coaching and no one got down without coaching, but it communicated our investment to the next generation.
You create those specific leadership moments where you can develop leaders who can come behind you.
To those who have come before me, I honor you with all of my heart. To those of you who are coming behind me and have served faithfully, I honor you. I honor my mom and dad who sacrificed for me. I want to honor my pastor who took a risk on a kid who knew nothing and literally told the board if you fire him I’m going too. I’m doing what I’m doing today because a man of God invested in a young kid.
Bill Hybels has taken more bullets than most of you can imagine and took them with integrity. For what he did, I honor him, and you should honor him as well.
Those of you who come behind me, I want you to know, there’s one thing I think about you. I’ve been a little hard on you, but that’s because you deserve it. But I will give my life for you because you deserve it. I believe in you more than you can imagine. You are the most cause driven generation in history. You don’t just want a job. You want a calling. When you look at the injustices in this world, you say, “No, not on my watch! I’m not okay with that!” I honestly believe you can do more than my generation can do if you will humble yourselves and learn from those above you.
I'm nervous about this because I have spoken to audiences around the world, but I have never spoken in such a personal manner.
I had dinner with a group of pastors last night who shared part of their stories. And I wondered what I could share that would make an impact. And then today I sat here with all of you and listened to these speakers and asked, "Why did I agree to speak today?" But those of you who know Bill, know that he is a very hard man to say no to.
I met Bill a few years ago at this Summit when he interviewed me, and he surprised me when he asked if I would pray with him. After the interview he asked everyone in the audience to pray for me and my husband. It was an almost physical experience where I felt myself being lifted up.
When I was a child I had faith in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but after growing up my faith began to become more abstract. I still prayed everyday, believed our souls outlived us, and thought good could triumph over evil. I had a picture of God as a some sort of super-CEO. The ideas in the Bible were powerful allegories and profound ideas but not actually real.
Bill and I talked over the course of a year or so and prodded me to question what I believed and why. I couldn't explain his personal interest in me. It was his persistance that kept me exploring the contours of my faith. At a Christmas Eve service I asked God to help me figure out my continuing questions. I awoke on Christmas morning with a clear mind.
I saw the evidence all around me of God, much of it coming from the world of science and technology where I had made my career. I figured, why not an immaculate conception. Every time I turn on my GPS I marvel at it's ability to track exactly where we are. (And she gave a lot of other examples.)
God became instantiated in a weak body, not because he needed it, but because we did.
A short time later, my father died, and while I was sad, I did not have the same experience I did when my mother had died. I was filled with an inner peace.
In 2009 my doctor told me I had an unidentified form of cancer. I battled my way through 11 surgeries, 4 months of chemotherapy, and 2.5 months of radiation. But that sweet peace stayed with me.
I realized cancer had brought blessings: the love of family, the kindness of strangers, the joy of life, the power of faith. All of these things I came to appreciate in a new way.
My ordeal with cancer paled in comparison to our daughters battles with her own demons. Two weeks after I finished my radiation, Lori died alone in her apartment. People at her funeral told me she was in a better place. For the first time I believed it. I realized she had not been truly alone.
Soon afterwards, my husband Frank told me he had lost his faith. He could not believe Jesus loved him and God let such a terrible thing happened. I prayed he would be given a sign and his faith restored.
A few days after Father's Day he came in with a look of relief. He had been in the garage and pile of boxes caught his eye. For no particular reason he decided to open one of them and found four father's day cards from Lori. He opened one of them and found a letter written many years ago when Lori had written how much she loved him and what a fine father he was. In that moment he knew that Jesus loved him, and I knew that God hears us and answers our prayers.
There is an ebb and flow to life. Our life is flowing now. We've moved to Virginia to be close to our family. I am engaged in activities that challenge me and I believe and hope make a difference. I realize that life is not measured in time, but in love and contribution and moments of grace.
In that interview with Bill, he asked about the very last line of my book, "My soul is at peace." Perhaps he realized I didn't fully understand what I had written. I do now. The peace of the Lord passes understanding.