Saturday, August 8, 2009

thoughts on leadership

summit_2009.jpgLeadership summit: David Gergen

"A teacher of leadership can't produce a leader."

"You can make people aware of principles and introduce them to role models."

"The more important question is can you create a culture?"

"You have to learn to get better at leadership."

"Where you really learn leadership is in the arena and continually reading."

Truman: "Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader."

"It's easy as a leader to confuse motion with progress."

"One of the easiest things to do is fool yourself."

[I would like to see Bill's leadership journal that he referenced in this interview.]

"Reflect on the dance that's taking place."

David's book is Eyewitness to Power:.

"Nixon was the best strategist I ever met."

Here's a link to Gergen's book:

"Ford was the most decent President I worked for."

"We have come to prize people who are decent...because they seem to be so rare."

"The quality I most admired in Clinton was his resilience." 

"Reagan was the best leader in the White House since Franklin Roosevelt."

"He had a contagious optimism about life." (about Reagan)

Reagan used to say, "Sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the far-right hand is doing."

"Nixon had demons in him that he could not control. Eventually they brought him down."

"Ford could sometimes be a little naive."

"Reagan would sometimes let others put their hands on the wheel."

"Clinton clearly had cracks in his character. He made mistakes. He made grievous mistakes."

"Not all great leaders are deeply flawed."

"I think all of us is flawed. Maturity is about coming to grips with our flaws."

"With regard to our leaders, we should be more forgiving about their private lives but more demanding about their public lives."

Warren Bennis: "The days of the 'lone ranger' as a leader is over."

"Your role as a leader should be to build a team of other leaders."

"We build things together."

Gergen quoting someone else: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

"Trying to order people doesn't work. We need to persuade people."

[The "go fast" line may be the best takeaway of the entire conference.]

Hybels: "Your brand, I think, is your hair." (about Gergen)

"We are so bombarded with words."

"You're not going to listen to someone who is sounding off. You'll listen to someone who is rooted."

"A speech shouldn't last more than 15 or 20 minutes."

"In the early part of your speech, establish who you are." (assuming they don't know you.)

"Then introduce the emotion."

"Then the message should be the reasoned part of your speech."

"At the end, it's really important to come back to the emotional appeal. You have to have a call to action."

"I think the best preachers bring the argument, but they also bring the emotional appeal."

[Hybels has always been a very good interviewer.]

"Leadership is a very physically demanding part of life."

"You have to be physically fit."

"You have to build time into your day to reflect."

"You have to build time into your day to spend time with the people you cherish."

"Having a moral compass is extremely important to leadership."

"It's important to have good anchors in life."

"Faith and family and friends are great anchors in life."

Friday, August 7, 2009

leadership summit

I just got this email from Tony Morgan who is attending Leadership Summit in Chicago. Tony recaps and sent a live email feed from the conference. The speaker is Tim Keller-- great stuff.
  • Tim Keller has just taken the platform and begun his talk.
  • Tim is talking about the parable of the prodigal son.
  • Both sons loved the Father's things but didn't love the Father.
  • Both sons rejected God--one was moral and one was immoral.
  • "The 'bad boy' is saved at the end of the parable, but the 'good boy' is lost."
  • "Elder brothers are obeying God to get things."
  • "People who believe the Gospel are utterly different."
  • "Older brothers get angry when their life doesn't go well. They believe God owes them."
  • "The one thing elder brothers rarely do is just enjoy God."
  • "It's impossible for elder brothers not to be constantly loathing people."
  • "Elder brothers can't forgive. You have to have a fair amount of pride to stay angry."
  • "Until you have learned to repent for the motivation for your right doing, there's no renewal."
  • [btw...Tim Keller is a watch-face-on-the-inside-of-his-wrist guy rather than a watch-face-on-the-outside-of-his-wrist guy. It's very retro. You rarely see watch-face-on-the-inside-of-his-wrist guys these days.]
  • Love Keller
  • "You, the leader, have to work this into your heart yourself."
  • "If you are a preacher, move beyond biblical principles to the Gospel."
  • "Get a group of leaders and help them through this process."
  • "Work it into your congregation."
  • "Pray for this."

Monday, May 18, 2009


My dad sent me an article from the Barna Research Group this week. The article caught my attention because at New Vintage Church we strive to create environments where people can grow and mature. That is great but how do we know what a mature Christians looks like? We also believe that without a clear target or a clear understanding of what a win looks like, we will define our own win. It's interesting how pastors aren't even clear about the target. Read the article and let me know what you think.

Though many of Christians would like to grow and develop on their path of faith, most are unsure what a "healthy, spiritually mature follower of Jesus" looks like, let alone how to become one.

A new Barna survey revealed on Monday that half of churchgoers cannot describe how their church defines a "healthy, spiritually mature follower of Jesus."

Even among born again Christians – a smaller subset group whose members say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as their savior and confessed their sin – a significant portion was unable to say how their church defines spiritual maturity. Two out of five born again Christians could not answer the open-ended survey question.

When Christians did offer their personal description of spiritual maturity, the views were mostly one-dimensional, according to the survey.

Some defined it as having a relationship with Jesus (21 percent), following rules and being obedient (15 percent), living a moral lifestyle (14 percent), possessing concern about others (13 percent), being involved in spiritual disciplines (13 percent), applying the Bible (12 percent), being spiritual or having belief (8 percent), sharing their faith with others (6 percent), and being involved in church activities (5 percent).

About one-fifth of self-described Christians did not offer an opinion.

In comparison, born again Christians had similar responses to self-described Christians except they were more likely to see having a relationship with Jesus (30 percent) as a sign of spiritual maturity.

The survey also suggested that most pastors struggle with defining spiritual maturity.

Surveyed pastors offered a range of ways to measure someone’s spiritual maturity, including the practice of spiritual disciplines (19 percent), involvement in church activities (15 percent), witnessing to others (15 percent), having a relationship with Jesus (14 percent), having concern for others (14 percent), applying the Bible to life (12 percent), being willing to grow spiritually (12 percent), and having knowledge of Scripture (9 percent).

Most of the pastors who participated in the survey were also vague in offering biblical passages that address spiritual maturity.

About one-third of pastors gave the generic response that the “the whole Bible” described spiritual maturity. Pastors were asked to identify the most important portions of the Bible that gave a definition of spiritual maturity.

Other pastors gave general answers such as “the gospels” (17 percent), the New Testament (15 percent), and Paul’s letters (10 percent). Overall, about three-quarters of pastors gave some type of generic answer. Another one out of five pastors gave a “semi-generic” response, such as “Romans” or the “life of Christ.”

Only one-fifth of pastors offered specific passages that included Galatians 5, John 3:16, Ephesians 4, Matthew 28, and Romans 12:1-2. Just two percent of pastors specifically identified the Galatians 5 passage that describes the “fruits of the Spirit,” which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Seven percent of pastor respondents gave “theme specific” responses, most commonly the Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, and the Beatitudes.

David Kinnaman, president of the research firm Barna Group and who directed the project, partly blamed the faith community not being able to offer a “robust” definition of its spiritual goals for contributing to the spiritual problems in America. Kinnaman calls on faith leaders, in light of the study, to develop new spiritual metrics to measure spiritual growth.

“As people begin to realize that the concepts and practices of spiritual maturity have been underdeveloped, the Christian community is likely to enter a time of renewed emphasis on discipleship, soul care, the tensions of truth and grace, the so-called ‘fruits’ of the spiritual life, and the practices of spiritual disciplines,” Kinnaman said.

The study is based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,005 adults, age 18 and older in August 2008. The survey among pastors included 611 clergy.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


We are doing a series called "It's Personal." It's so personal I can't even talk about it. Just kidding. If you have questions about God, the Bible, how the dinosaurs got on the ark, and how can a good God let bad things happen to good people --- this is for you and your friends. Most people treat God as if the topic is a category. When we realize that God is personal and can be known and experienced, your life will be changed. Make sure you bring a friend to one of our weekend services. See you there.


One of the great heroes in the Bible is king David. In these times of uncertainty, challenge, and economic storms, we desperately need role models worth following. When you read the story of David, you don't see a perfect person, but a person who was "after God's own heart." This past week I have been following and looking at the life of David through our devotional guide found on the front page of the New Vintage Church web site (devotions). The last couple of days I was reading through the story of how David was run out of town by his son who took over the kingdom. Running again in the desert. Hiding. Surviving. This reminded me of Deuteronomy 8:2: "and you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Wow. That is huge. God allows us to go through desert experiences to test what is really in our hearts. To "humble" us which means to have a teachable spirit and the desert is the place where we discover our true loyalty.
I hate going to the desert though. It's so unconfortable. Nevertheless, our spiritual growth has so much to do with desert experiences. When we avoid the desert, we avoid growth. We as Americans have grown accustomed to pleasure, denial, and any way to medicate the pain. This is a dangerous place to be because we are avoiding spiritual growth and depth. My prayer is that when God takes me to the desert, I don't avoid it but embrace it. God, help me to be humble enough to learn the lessons you are teaching me and that I would obey even when it doesn't make sense.

Friday, April 24, 2009


What an awesome church!!  Abba Church is located in a city called Curitiba --- a city about 5 hours south of Sao Paolo, Brazil.  The pastor's name Pio and he is an aboslutely outstanding leader of the church of about 6,000 members.  I had the wonderful priveledge to go to Brazil and speak at his church for two nights describing what God is doing in New Vintage Church.  They have a ministry called "Friends of God" that invites friends to come and talk about what God is doing in their part of the world.  What a great idea. The concept is that friends tell friends what they are doing and friends try to help friends become better and grow stronger.  Isn't that what friends do?  I thought I was going to Brazil to help a friend but the opposite happened to me.  Wow did they encourage me and help me get a bigger picture of what a church could be.   Abba Church has built into its cultural fabric a process of developing leaders and mentoring one another.  That is what friends do -- they help each other.  Let's be friends.  Check out some more pics here

Friday, April 10, 2009


I did not realize what an impact a sign can make.  I started getting phone calls and text messages letting me know that we were on the big sign on 101.  Traffic was stopped for miles and people were forced to look at it---God has a sense of humor.