21 Unforgettable Quotes from the 2017 Leadership Summit

Every year, the two days I spend attending the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit with my fellow staff members is the highlight of my year. The Summit is two amazing days filled with refreshment, recharging, learning and inspiration from top-notch leaders from the realms of business, church, activism, media and government.

I hear so many brilliant and inspiring thoughts each year, I try to tweet them all. But, because I can’t keep up, last year I wrote a blog on the 21 most unforgettable quotes from the Summit. This year is no different. Here are 21 unforgettable quotes from the 2017 Leadership Summit.

“Your organization’s culture will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.” – Bill Hybels

“Leadership development is both the individual and organization’s responsibility.” – Sheryl Sandberg       

“Listen to outsiders. Outsiders aren’t bound by our assumptions.” – Andy Stanley

“Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = human achievement. Talent counts, but effort counts twice.” – Angela Duckworth

 “Leadership begins with a dream. Fear silences dreams.” – Gary Haugen

“Sometimes, where you are used to being is not where you belong.” – Sam Adeyemi Continue reading

Book Review: Sticky Leaders

Reviewing Sticky Leaders, by Pastor Larry Osborne was a joy because the insights in this book are inspiring, important, and easy to understand. As a church consultant, I’ve read many wonderful books on church leadership, and Sticky Leaders does not disappoint. I highly recommend you read it. Here are four areas Osborne emphasizes that are worth considering.

Innovation
Osborne introduces the concept of “serial innovators” – leaders who try new things, think outside the box, and take careful, calculated risks. He says, “Healthy organizations…can’t just focus on the past. They must also think about creating the future…” This calls for flexibility and innovation.

He says a genuine innovation must work and be widely accepted. The author gives the example of the Segway – the personal, two-wheeled motorized vehicle. Segway’s work. But they never became widely accepted,…except if you’re a mall cop. He states that if a “better” solution isn’t widely adopted, it’s an invention, but not an innovation. Continue reading

One Word That Will Help Focus Your Ministry

As church leaders, we often hear many good ideas to further the mission of the church. And most of them probably are good ideas. The trick is determining which ideas are the best.

In the church, opinions and options seem endless. Everyone has a brilliant plan or groundbreaking idea that should be implemented right away. However, author Chris McChesney said, “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute them.”

It’s easy to say yes. But how do you decide when to say no?

Author Larry Osborne gives us a clue. In Sticky Leaders he says, “If something doesn’t take us toward our mission, it takes us away from our mission, even if it’s a great idea.” If we say yes to too many good ideas, we quickly lose focus. Too many options overwhelm people, divide attention, and dilute impact.

Saying no can be the most difficult, yet most critically important part of ministry.

So why don’t more churches say no? Why is saying no so difficult? Below are two reasons church leaders find it difficult to say no.

They don’t want to be the bad guy

Christian leaders are supposed to be nice, right? Yet it somehow seems “unchristian” to deny a person’s sincere request or good idea.

Leaders need to decide if they’re called to be nice and fulfill everyone’s wants, or called to be focused and direct people to what they need. An alcoholic wants a drink. But a drink isn’t what he needs. He needs rehab and should be directed there.

It’s easy to misunderstand the difference between needs and wants, and many churches confuse the two. Continue reading

21 Unforgettable Quotes From This Year’s Leadership Summit

195fbff6e89aa01b89abca97c01ee06e“Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” This is just one of many though-provoking truths I overheard at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Every August, for the past 21 years, the Willow Creek Association puts on a 2-day conference from Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, highlighting the best leaders from the world of business, politics, athletics, entertainment, education, philanthropy, and the church. The W.C.A. believes that leadership is vital for church vitality. I whole-heartedly agree. So for the past 11 years, I’ve invested into my own leadership to attend one of the 230 U.S. sites that simulcasts the Summit. And every year I’m glad I did.

Many years ago I heard Dr. John Maxwell say, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” These 6 simple words became foundational to my thinking and ministry. Dr. Maxwell was one of this year’s faculty at the Summit and every August, I attend and fill my notebook with notes and quotes that serve to inform and inspire me throughout the year. Here are 21 of the most unforgettable quotes I heard at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Continue reading

4 Things That Make a Great Executive Pastor

The most significant relationship in the church is between the Senior Pastor and the Executive Pastor. It’s almost a given that these two influential leaders need to be unified regarding vision, complement each other’s strengths, and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. While their roles are very different, each plays a unique and significant part of your church’s ministry. Therefore, having the right Executive Pastor on your staff is critical. So if you are looking to hire one, or you currently are one wanting to increase your effectiveness, here are four things that make an exceptional Executive Pastor.

Reflect the heart of the leader
img3The chief aim of a great Executive Pastor is to reflect the heart of the leader. Getting to know the Senior Pastor’s passions, goals and priorities is vital. The Executive Pastor should be the Senior Pastor’s chief representative, main confidant, and most reliable associate. This relationship must be characterized by trust and transparency. And that takes intentionality. It won’t happen by simply sitting in meetings together or working on the same project. Instead, it will require relational interdependence that comes from common experience and shared passion for the mission of the church.

Recognize your role
An exceptional Executive Pastor recognizes his main role is to make the Senior Pastor successful. Once the Executive Pastor knows and reflects the heart of the leader, he can begin to re-cast the leader’s vision, – not his own. When it comes to defending the leader, a wise Executive Pastor knows he must support publicly, yet confront privately. Again, the relationship must be healthy enough for the Executive Pastor to challenge, question, and give direction to the Senior Pastor. But all these conversations must be done in person, and in a private environment.
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Delegating Versus Releasing Authority: What’s the Difference?

Several years ago, I learned an important lesson about the difference between delegating tasks and releasing authority. I was in a ministry situation where I was selected to be on a small team to plan a special training event for our staff. We were each given different aspects of this task and each of us worked very hard to deliver great results. But as we progressed, it became evident that the leader of our team was running just about every detail past our senior leadership team for approval.

The event came and went, and by all accounts, it was fairly successful. But I learned an unexpected, valuable lesson from the experience. I thought our team had been given authority for the event. But in reality, we had been merely delegated tasks.

After reflecting upon that experience, I came to a greater awareness of the difference between the two. Here are four insights on why releasing authority is better than delegating tasks.

Multiplies effectiveness
When a church begins to grow, the senior leader must begin to delegate tasks. The sheer number of duties in a growing church quickly outnumber the leader’s capacity to perform them all.

px220088But as a church continues to grow, senior leadership needs to do more than assign duties. They need to begin to release authority.

Dale Peterson, the Executive Director of Ministry Multiplication at Eagle Brook Church in the Twin Cities, said that their senior leadership team came to a watershed moment when they learned to release responsibility, not just delegate tasks. It’s when their church went from being a growing church to a multiplying church.

Broadens responsibility
When leadership is shared, it divides the load and multiplies the effect. But if all authority lies with one person or committee, it can slow the decision making progress to a crawl. Bottlenecks begin to emerge. Progress is hindered. And tensions rise.

See Acts 6 and the widow crisis in the Early Church as an example. Their solution? Spread out the responsibilities! The leaders appointed deacons and said, “We will turn this responsibility over to them.” People got fed, widows were cared for and the Church took off.

Today, if a variety of people are actually responsible for different areas of ministry, growth is developed, needs are met, and frustration is minimized. Continue reading

Three Kinds of Church Staff Members

I once heard someone say, “There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who know how to count…and those who don’t.” In fact, many divide people into three different categories. You know: Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who say, “What happened?”

Categorizing people, while typically based on generalizations, and having the potential to lean towards stereotyping, often makes sense. It helps us simplify things. So it is with employees at your church. Here are three kinds of critical church staff people, and thoughts on how best to utilize each type.

Experts
Experts get things done. They are those extremely competent staff people who are highly trained and very skilled at what they do. If you want something done, give it
to them. They tend to be a bit more task oriented than people focused, but they get the job done efficiently and professionally. They produce exceptional results. Continue reading

The Power of Focus

Today I’ll look at probably the most difficult aspect of implementing a simple strategy for church health. It’s called focus. Focus is difficult because if you focus on one thing, you have to say “no” to something else. And we don’t like to say “no.” We don’t want to hurt feelings, reject ideas, or crush dreams. But many churches will remain largely ineffective until we embrace the concept of focus. So take a look at the idea of focus, by considering this simple acrostic, F.O.C.U.S.

Forsake
The power of focus is not just in what you focus on, but on what you don’t. The object of your focus should be the only thing you pay attention to. When couples pledge themselves to the other in marriage, they promise to “forsake all others,” and let their spouse be the focal point of their attention. In order to focus on someone or something, you have to forsake everyone, or everything else.

Optical
Focus is a vision word. It deals with optics, the scientific study of sight. Try this quick experiment. Hold up your finger six inches in front of your nose. Focus on it for five seconds. Now, keeping your finger there and without turning your head, focus on an object on a wall directly across the room. Now focus on your finger again.

focus_1When you were focusing on your finger, the wall on the other side of the room was technically in your field of vision, you just didn’t see it. Likewise, when you focused on the wall, you didn’t notice your finger. The point is, you see what you focus on. If you want to see clearly, focus is a non-negotiable.

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