Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


For about the 6th or 7th time now, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Leadership Summit from Willow Creek. I’ve never been to it live, I always watch it a few hours later on some kind of time delay satellite feed at some church somewhere. Once in San Jose, several times in Walnut Creek, and now 3 times here at Journey where we host it.

Each time I go, I try and summarize my learnings from each of the presenters or “faculty members” as they call them, in a sentence. This year, I’m also taking Tuesday to review and re-think and stew on what I heard. I’m going to turn off my cell, my e-mail, and the world and lock myself in a room to think and pray about what God might have for me. In particular, I’ll be thinking over these one or two sentence learnings:

  • Session #1. Bill Hybels: founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church

Ownership of a vision is more important than the creation of a vision: As a result, good leaders spend significant time and energy involving others in the vision development process rather than simply declaring it from on high and unilaterally hoping for agreement.

  • Session #2. A live stage interview with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP…

“Logic taught me the power of the right question. I have discovered that, knowing the answer is less important than asking the right question.”

  • Session #3. Floyd A. Flake: pastor, former congressman, business man, college president…

(This man was impossible for me to follow. He spoke very fast. Never paused. I couldn’t follow his line of thinking. It was all over the place. Honestly, I learned more about his leadership by watching how he interacted with others in his intro video than I did from his actual words on stage. As I reflected on how this communicator got on such a world class stage, I discovered a truth I’ve seen proven in many an influential leader through the years)

A leader’s public communication skills can be trumped by their interpersonal ones and still result in great success. However, if a leader’s interpersonal skills are poor, no amount of public speaking can overcome them and they are destined to be a mess.

  • Session #4. Marcus Buckingham: world renown author, consultant, and strengths communicator
3 one liners worth stewing on:

Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.

Move the best of your job until it is most of your job.

Good leaders can talk about strengths without boasting, and weaknesses without whining.

  • Session #5. Michael E. Porter: Harvard Business School Prof and a well recongized authority on strategic planning.

When working with a social need (poverty, aids, education, homelessness, etc), don’t see yourself as someone providing a service, instead see yourself as someone trying to add value to another’s life. This will force us to evaluate our results based on it’s influence and aid on the recipient of the service, not on the execution of the service itself.

  • Session #6. Colin Powell: leadership genius… man I wish I could have coffee with once a month…. really bad.

Only people get things done. Mission statements don’t. Policies don’t. Only people do. So, take 1/3 of a given time period as a leader to devise a plan. Then spend 2/3 of the time allowing those who you expect to help do the task to interact with the plan so they can be own and discover a plan for their role in it.

  • Session #7. John Ortberg: Author, master of words, senior pastor of Menlo Park Community Church in CA.
A leader’s greatest fear should be the pursuit of a “Shadow Mission.” The distraction of the devil to devote their time and resources to that which is second best or even flat out evil. Consequently, every good leader must name their “shadow mission” and take specific and regular steps to keep it from consuming their life by it’s natural pull it has on them.

  • Session #8. Richard Curtis: British Comedy Writer, Philanthropist dedicated to seeing poverty literally become a thing of history
As a youth pastor, looking over the sea of students who have come through our doors and either in high school, or in the years to follow, eventually walked away from Jesus, I identified with this statement more than I wished I did. I too feel like my energy is going to waste more times than not…

“The most depressing thing for me as a comedy film writer is a movie rental store. They are all over the place and filled with thousands of dead films. I don’t want to produce just another one of those.”

  • Session #9. Jimmy Carter: Humble man of God, 39th President of the United States, Sunday School teacher of small 35 person church in Plains, Ga. where he and his family have owned land since 1835.

Accommodate changing times while clinging to unchanging principles . Those were and are the passions of Jesus Christ.

  • Session #10. Bill Hybels

Staying motivated or inspired in my job is my job, and no one elses.

Hybels mentioned 10 ways he stays motivated. 3 I held on to as critical for me these days:

  1. Spend time with and around friends who truly inspire me to live and lead well.
  2. Spend time paying attention to my own spiritual and physical needs of rest, excercise, eating, reading, and prayer.
  3. Spend time escaping in a non-work related hobby that re-fuels my spirit.


  1. I went to the Livermore site – it was a pretty good year I think. I too hard a hard time with Rev. Flake but didn’t even think to draw out that little nugget you did. I’d be interested to hear more about what you come up with after your day of reflection on Tuesday.

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