This critique is on Bill Hybels who spoke on March 12, 2010 at the Southeastern University Leadership Forum.
The speaker’s main purpose in this presentation was to help the audience understand that often God speaks in a whisper, and we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to hear it.
Bill Hybels presented two ideas that really captivated me. The first was his story of how he started Willow Creek Community Church. He talked about how they used a small local theatre and they would clean it in the mornings and get it ready for the church service. The shocking part of the story was that on Saturday evenings they would show horror films and those in the theatre would often vomit, then the workers of the theatre would leave it knowing that Bill and his volunteers would clean it in the morning because they had to if they wanted to have a clean environment for church. Mr. Hybels told us how he felt some mornings at six a.m. cleaning vomit off the floor, wondering how he had found himself in this position. What most people don’t know is that Bill hybels’ father was extremely successful and wealthy, he had offered the business to Bill, but Bill turned it down in order that he might pursue the ministry. So Bill was cleaning vomit with this taunting memory of himself turning down the family business haunting him in the back of his mind. It was at this point that Bill shared how listening to the “whisper” of God is sometimes painful and doesn’t make sense to us at our present moment. I was not aware of how Will Creek Church had started, and I was definitely not aware that Bill had turned down such an amazing offer, simply to follow a whisper. Needless to say that whisper has led him on an amazing and very successful journey.
The most helpful part of the presentation given by Bill Hybels, was his sincerity. He was very calm and collected as he shared his journey, you could see the passion, pain, joy and so many emotions in his eyes throughout the entire conversation. It was inspiring to sit under a leader and hear him share his story with such joy despite all the troubles and hardships he has faced. Following a whisper is not always easy, it is often costly and difficult, but following that whisper can change your life and make you into a great servant leader.
“ Sometimes God calls people to hard things, that takes someone with strong shoulders to bear it.” This is a beautiful quote from Bill Hybels, it is full of such inspiration and challenge. He wanted the audience to understand that leadership is very difficult and sometimes God will call us to bear something quite heavy and extremely challenging, but the reward for doing so is always worth it and is always life changing. Bill Hybels had so many stories and each one was filled with passion and thanksgiving, because it was clear that everything Bill Hybels has achieved, he gives God all the glory and honor for it. This was a true example of servant leadership.
This critique is on John Kotter who spoke on March 12, 2010 at the Southeastern University Leadership Forum.
The speaker’s main purpose in this presentation was to discuss the issues surrounding “Leadership and Change.” With the economy failing and leaders all offering new ideas of hope and change, it seemed quite appropriate for John Kotter to discuss these ideas through life examples and also business principles.
John Kotter presented two ideas that really captivated me. The first was idea came in the form of the story of how Mark Kay was created. He discussed how when this organization had started, he rushed down to one of the local business meetings that was being held by the owner and founder of Mary Kay. He described her as a very sweet southern girl and how the people were just captivated by her. He pointed out that she had what seemed to be a “board” of people that handled different aspects of the company. He ended up meeting one of the women that works on the business end of the company and asked her to answer some questions as to how the company runs. She answered his questions brilliantly and broke the company down into four or five main people showing where they would all be on a business chart. This story was extremely intriguing and I never knew that the company was so well organized and strategically planned out. The idea was that through delegation, Mary Kay has become a huge success and a model of a true American dream of starting something from scratch.
The second idea he shared was the story about a Japanese leader who grew up poor and founded many companies that we ourselves use probably daily. He told the struggle that this leader went through and how he had to overcome hardships and struggles. Through all of it, he was always the first to throw himself on the chopping block, he always took the brunt of the “blows” that his company and workers faced. His companies still stand to this day and are huge monuments and models of how an origination has to change with the times, and how it can be made up of honesty and loyalty and still succeed.
The presentation was very inspiring to me, I was given the opportunity to sit under a Harvard professor and learn from him for just over an hour. He is truly a brilliant man and creatively showed us what leadership looks like, and how those leaders must change to constantly advance. It was an inspiring presentation.
“People come to work everyday determined to exploit real opportunities and avoid real hazards.” This was taken from the notes given in his lecture; he was discussing what false and true urgency look like. He was discussing the issue of complacency; many people become complacent and don’t chase after the extraordinary because they are afraid. When true leaders step up to the plate, they must be willing to do things differently, and explore the unknown regions. Over all John Kotter was extremely interesting and his style quite different from the other speakers, it was an privilege to sit and hear him speak.
The speaker’s main purpose in this presentation was to explain the differences between strengths and weaknesses. Often leaders become very frustrated with themselves because they can’t seem to perform at their best, Buckingham went into great detail, of why this is.
Marcus Buckingham presented two ideas that really captivated me. The first was this question of “why do we focus on trying to do or be better at weaknesses?” This question came as a shocking revelation; most everyone spends huge amounts of time trying to improve in areas that they are not good at. Buckingham was challenging the leaders in the audience to re-evaluate this way of thinking; he wanted the audience to consider the possibility that improving weaknesses are actually counter-productive.
Another great point that came out his discussion was closely related to the first, “we think that our weaknesses have the most opportunity for growth.” This is in fact completely the opposite of the truth, but most people look at their weaknesses and see tons of opportunity, when in fact it is actually wasted energy. The flip side is that in our areas of strength lies true opportunity for growth. In someone’s strengths/giftings, there is a multitude of opportunities and successes waiting to be had. This is a complete contradiction of society, where there are books on every subject for “dummies,” there are tons of programs and television ads that encourage you to improve in this area or that area, but maybe in fact the things you want to improve are truly areas you should work around. Great time spent in strengths equals great victories. This of course isn’t saying that people shouldn’t work on some areas of their life where they struggle against moral issues and such, but it actually applies and makes sense even in those areas too. If you struggle with certain “sins,” it would be better to find ways to avoid acting upon those urges, opposed to trying to face those sins and failing, it would be better to admit weakness and avoid being caught in those distresses.
I told Marcus Buckingham that this was one of the best presentations on this subject that I had ever heard. It is hard to pick one or even two things that truly inspired me from this presentation, but I will attempt to choose one regardless. I would say for me the most helpful part of this presentation was Buckingham’s points on “weaknesses.” I have spent countless hours and years trying to improve on areas that I am just not good at, and realizing that I am not good at them and accepting that is a truly liberating feeling. I have yet to reach this point but because of Buckingham’s inspiring words I feel that I am one step closer to lean on my strengths instead of my weaknesses.
“Your strengths aren’t what your good at and your weaknesses aren’t whatever your bad at.” This statement was incredible. At this point in the presentation Buckingham showed us how to break down a list of strengths and weaknesses and then create statements to live our life by. Often you can be great at something, but if you hate doing it, then it is actually a weakness. There are things in my own life that I am good at doing, but I don’t like doing them, therefore when I do them with a motivation of “have to,” then I am actually being counter-productive. Many leaders would greatly benefit from engaging in this practice of evaluation, I can’t imagine how many leaders spend years of their lives attempting to be great at things they were never meant to be great at. How much more effective would each person in this world be if they simply did what God created them to do and stopped trying to be “great” at something that is truly a weakness.
Brian Houston’s main purpose for this presentation was to convince a group of current leaders, that as they move forward, they must continue to respect and honor their previous leaders and the foundations they laid. He presented the idea with a simple sentence, “servant leaders think generational.”
Brian Houston presented two ideas within his presentation, to which I was unfamiliar with. The first one seems so simple upon reflection, but is often overlooked and not put into action. “Influence doesn’t come from doing things the way they have always been done.” This statement could change a lot of leadership styles within the church if it would simply be accepted and put into action. More often than not, many leaders especially in the church are afraid to think outside the box because they don’t want to fail, or they don’t want to upset people within the church. If a leader is truly going to be great, they are going to have to do things differently from how they are always done, otherwise they will simply become a copy of someone else.
Another great idea that Houston presented, to which I had not thought of, was that “books hold the danger of pointing back to what’s already been done.” This is completely opposite of what most leaders are taught through their educational years. It is a dangerous way of thinking, but in context it actually holds a lot of value. What Houston was saying, was that books are a great thing, but often we never look within for creativity, God has given each person an ability to create. When leaders rely simply on books and other people’s ideas, they are not creating anything new or unique.
Brian Houston was very passionate about emphasizing the idea that to be truly great, means that you must honor the leaders before you, but lead in a new and fresh way in the present. This to me was the most helpful thing that I pulled out of the presentation. Often it becomes so easy to rely on other leaders’ ideas and concepts and not be faced with the pressure of being original. This way of thinking will not make for the catalyst of change that people desire. Leaders have to be original and one of a kind, it is here that people following them will lean how to find their own identity.
“Culture makes a great servant, but a terrible master.” A lot of people fall victim to what is expected of them by their culture, family, history, etc… If these fears and doubts were overcome, than more leaders would be free to explore what is out there and to strive to be great. As mentioned before, Houston mentions that even your heritage does not define hold you back; a perfect example would be Martin Luther King Jr. He was able to use his heritage to become a great leader; it did not use or control him. To truly become a great leader, you must be willing to go where no other leader has gone before, while still honoring and respecting those that have gone before you.
Right from the beginning, Craig Groeschel wanted the room full of leaders to walk away from the presentation aware of one thing. Groeschel said it once and reiterated it through each example, “a leader’s constant companion is pain.” Groeschel was able to take this idea and make it tangible and real to the audience. Everyone in that room who was a leader, immediately perked their ears to this statement and became intrigued why someone in such a level of tangible success would make such a statement.
I really was enlightened on this idea of “purposeful pain,” that Groeschel kept referring to. Throughout the presentation Groeschel explained that a lot of leaders are scared of any kind of pain, and that often it cannot only effect their public life, but also their private life. Groeschel explained that as a leader you will face a lot of criticism. Most people want everyone to like them, but the reality is there will always be someone who does not like what you are doing. The speaker challenged us to “increase our threshold of pain in rejection and criticism.” Criticism is healthy in a lot of ways, because it keeps you accountable, dependent upon God and genuine. A lot of leaders today do not have enough accountability and as a result they fail emotionally and spiritually, when all they needed was someone to watch them and tell them what they were doing was unhealthy. As leaders it is vital that we have a dependability on God, if we start thinking that we can do everything without him, and that we are as good as we think we are, then we are headed down a slippery slope. Lastly leaders need to be genuine. Leaders today run the risk of fake personas more than ever because of twitter and facebook and so many social outlets. It’s easy to pretend to be one person and then turn out to be another. Eventually without that criticism both good and bad, a leader can lose his/her identity very quickly.
Another thing that Groeschel said that struck me as unfamiliar was the quote, “if you blame yourself for the decline you’ll take credit for the increase.” This statement is really powerful. Most leaders want to wallow in self-pity and don’t want to look at “pruning” that may be taking place. They want to take everything bad and hide it and try not to admit that they are weak and do fail. Then when they have risen above the trouble they credit themselves instead of God. A true leader recognizes errors and mistakes and tries to learn from it, thanking God that there is a lesson to be learned instead of simply looking at the problem as something to hide and run from. Most leaders do not like this idea because it entails what most would consider “weakness,” but it is better to admit you are wrong and be perceived as weak then to hide from wrong and grow in false pride.
The most helpful part of this presentation for me, was Groeschel’s ability to explain pain as something good opposed to always being bad. There is “growth” that arises out of “purposeful pain.” Groeschel kept explaining that you have to “lead through pain, not stupid pain.” Pain is meant to be something that we grown and learn from, needless and stupid pain is pain brought on by ourselves in our own selfishness and pride. God doesn’t want us to go through the pain of pride and adultery and other detrimental acts. God allows us to go through healthy pain because with it there will come growth and movement. This is not to say that leaders who make mistakes such as money laundering, adultery, or other acts can’t be reconciled back into God’s wonderful plan for their life. It’s simply saying that life holds enough pain and trials through human connection, why add needless pain?
“Often the difference between where we are and where God wants us to be is the pain we are unwilling to endure.” This is powerful, Groeschel was challenging the room of leaders to stop avoiding the “tough decisions.” Leadership has a lot of duties some are fun and some are terrible, especially when it deals with the confrontation of another individual. A leader is someone who is not afraid to confront someone when they are wrong, or harming the company/organization. Sometimes God has a great plan in store for us, but we are unwilling to let go of the thing or place we currently feel we are in possession of. Leaders become comfortable or even scared to move forward into the unknown, even when it is something as simple as confronting someone. Sometimes one person within an organization can become so unruly that they can hinder others from reaching their “purposes” as well. The leader must be willing to confront these people, even when it is uncomfortable, and demand change in action form this individual. When a leader becomes stagnant in one place and never looks forward, they will drag everyone under them down the same “pipe.” Leaders have to endure the pain of the “unknown,” without it they struggle with the idea of faith. On that note, I end with this quote, “sometimes a leader will be stung (hurt/ injured) and be hesitant, they will lead to avoid pain, instead of by faith.
This critique is on Erwin McManus who spoke on March 10, 2010 during the Late afternoon.
Erwin McManus wanted to touch on two major themes throughout his presentation. The first idea was a statement which he felt needed to be driven into the core of our Christianity, “we have to stop acting as if we’ve earned the right to be heard and start doing things that are beautiful and compelling…” The second major idea to which he spent the most time addressing was the questions, what is the meaning of life?
Erwin Mcmanus provided two bits of information which I was not previously aware of. The first statement which really struck out to me was, “if your just working to pay the bills, your life will be meaningless.” This statement is powerful, because most people go through life simply just trying to survive. They want to make money and can’t even give a reason as to why they need to make tons of money. McManus told a story of his son and him having a conversation about meaning and purpose one day. His son talked about working for Erwin and how he wanted to make lots of money for his father. Erwin responded with, “why do we need lots of money?” The son replied, so that they will be able to do more things. To this Erwin replied that, “What things can we not do now?” After thinking about it, the son responded with a new answer, “I want to make money so I can help others realize their own specific purpose and meaning in life.” Money should not be our motive for “doing” life, money is simply one of the tools to enable us to live out “our purpose” which is that, “…everything we do is to bring meaning to others and the world.”
The second statement which struck me as unfamiliar was that, “Solomon was wrong.” This seemed crazy, even McManus admitted that when he first came to this conclusion it was scary and seemed “blasphemous.” In context however, it makes perfect sense. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about how there is “nothing new under the sun.” This is wrong and Erwin went on to show why he believes so, in the Bible, Jesus talks about the wineskins bursting because of new wine, and when God said, “I’m doing a new thing are you even going to be aware of it?” There are tons of examples even out of the Bible, such as traveling to the moon, ipods, cameras, television, vehicles, the light bulb and so many more. McManus was so passionate about explaining why this is untrue, because we as Christians, have become un-original and seem to think that the old way and old ideas are the only right way to go about life.
The most helpful part of this presentation for me was the idea of, “earning the right to be heard.” In our culture it becomes to easy for many people to simply believe that because they are in a certain class level, or have a certain title, that everyone should listen to them. Christians are especially guilty of this because we are responsible for spreading the “truth.” A lot of Christians just believe that because you’re right, you’re also healthy, but in reality “just because you’re right, does not mean you’re healthy. A lot of Christians know the truth, but are very cynical and judgmental in their approach to spread that truth. This type of approach is not helpful to anyone and is actually counterproductive in the goal of loving people. I will not forget this quote because it really inspires me to remain genuine and loving in my approach to help others.
“We need to find the ‘A’ place for every person and make every job meaningful.” This is so vital in not just the church, but also public companies as a whole. Every person working within your church or company needs to feel as though they are not only wanted, but needed. When people within your company feel like they are wanted and appreciated it raises their motivation and their sense of purpose.
When people feel this way they work harder and become viable assets to a company. On a spiritual level, these people will start to realize that there is more to life than just being successful at work, that there is more out there. They will feel good and be more open to the truth that money is not everything and that a life with God is far more valuable than any promotion. When others succeed because we in some way helped, we actually succeed as well, because we are all on the same team. Those who don’t know Christ are always searching for meaning and purpose to this life, it is the job of every Christian to show these people that purpose.
Spring Break for me was really interesting. I spent the first few days chilling and pretty much doing nothing. As the week continued I prepared myself for the events of Wednesday afternoon.
From Wed. to Friday I spent countless hours (all amazingly worth it) sitting and listening to some of the greatest leaders in our time. I heard from Erwin Mcmanus, Jim Collins, Joyce Meyer, and oh yeah….President Bush. These were only some of the many speakers I was privileged to listen to. I learned so much that it is impossible to write everything down, except I kind of need to because I actually did the forum for three college credits!!!!
As I work through all the material and discussions I intend to write a series on my blog dedicated to the forum and leadership. I hope all of you will enjoy it and you can be looking for it in the next few weeks!!!