Leadership Insights & Stories of Impact. WCA hosts the annual Global Leadership Summit, a top-notch, adrenaline pumping call to lead where you are. We’re convinced that leadership is critical to church and organization vitality. A church’s effectiveness in pursuing its God-given mission is largely dependent on the character, devotion and skill of its leadership core.
We are honored to welcome T.D. Jakes back to The Global Leadership Summit stage. Named “America’s Best Preacher” by TIME Magazine, Jakes’ powerful influence reaches across the globe. The article below is a great example of Jakes at his finest—practical and inspirational—calling people to step into God’s best for their lives.
T.D. Jakes uses his gift for connecting with people to inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves. He unlocks the door to personal growth, not only for the tens of thousands of members of his congregation at The Potter’s Housein Dallas, Texas, but also for the millions who seek out his wisdom through his books, films, television and social media.
These 10 quotes from T.D. Jakes will inspire you to a relentless pursuit of your passion and purpose in life:
1) Our current circumstances should never limit us from reaching our true potential. We must turn our struggles into the vehicles that spur our transformation.
Don’t stop at where you are as if it were the destination, when in fact, in reality, it may be the transportation that brings you into that thing you were created to do.
2) When we “move,” we bring about the growth we desire. Tragedy hasn’t stopped you, heartbreak didn’t defeat you, failure does not define you; use this hard-earned wisdom to grasp your purpose and shape your future.
Everything you’ve gone through is preparation for what’s about to happen in your life. The LORD has already given you a word, MOVE!
3) The surest way to lose yourself is to focus on other people’s voices instead of your own. Jakes calls on us to walk into our destiny and embrace our true purpose in life. Stop conforming!
We need to be who we were called to be instead of contorting ourselves into what other people want us to be!
4) This powerful quote from his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, speaks to the clarity to be gained from the search for our truth. If you are in a job that drains you, it’s time to galvanize your forces and take the necessary steps to move on. The road will be taxing, but the promise of fulfilling your true purpose will fortify your conviction.
It is time for us to find the thing we were created to do, the people we were meant to affect and the power that comes from alignment with purpose.
5) Purpose resides in us; we must be directors in the script of our lives. In his work Identity: Discover Who You Are and Live A Life Of Purpose, T.D. Jakes reminds us that as you get to know more about yourself—your likes, dislikes, values and triggers—you will have a greater sense of whether or not the life you lead suits you. Life’s noise can be deafening. When is the last time you sat in complete silence and listened for the messages from your heart?
Here is the problem with how many people approach the question of purpose: Many are looking outside of themselves for their purpose, destiny or meaning in life. The very key to knowing your purpose is discovering and celebrating your personal identity.
6) From his electric sermon, The Starving Prince,from The Potter’s House Sunday service, Jakes challenges us to believe in our purpose. The “big thing” we were meant to do is coming. As you search for your true purpose in life, do not waver in your faith to overcome your current adversity.
God is about to plant you in a big thing. Your eyes have not seen, your ears have not heard, neither has entered into your heart what God has in store for you!
7) We are called to embrace change. Turn your tumultuous relationship around, heal the wounds that hold you back, dare to take a step toward your dream career. Your actions will loosen the ties that bind and will move you closer to where you are supposed to be.
If we are called to be the salt of the earth, we have to get out of the saltshaker. Get out of your comfort zone, enlarge your territory.
8) Passion and purpose are joined at the hip and move together, lock-step, toward destiny. Where there is passion, connect it to your purpose. Then set your goals higher than you think humanly possible. You will find your reward.
Your Passion is your conviction about it, your Purpose is why you do it, your Destiny is where.
9) Consider an athlete or a famous musician. They thrive in the skill that defines them, and the energy flow is seamless. We can all tap into our own inner excellence and radiate this same energy. Were you meant to counsel others? Do you have a way with numbers? As Jakes discusses, find your genuine purpose and never settle for false comfort. Ignite your passion and your purpose will reveal itself!
At any age, you can still ignite your passion through finding your purpose!
10) You need to find the wheelhouse of what you were called to do. T.D. Jakes calls on us to shed our toxic distractions and share our divine spark on a daily basis. He reminds us that as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have the ability to flourish.
When you know your purpose, you know what isn’t your purpose, so you can stop being distracted trying to do something that is not in the wheelhouse of what you were designed to do!
T.D. Jakes is a visionary, provocative thinker and entrepreneur who serves as senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church. Named “America’s Best Preacher” by TIME Magazine, Jakes’ reach and presence spans film, television, radio and books, including his most recent New York Times bestseller, Soar! Build Your Vision from the Group Up, and his latest film, Faith Under Fire.
More than a decade ago, God called me to found A21. When Nick and I first starting meeting with officials and working through obstacles, I felt so unqualified and unprepared. I had no idea how to run such an organization. I had no training in how to rescue slaves. I didn’t know the right people. I didn’t have all the resources I needed. I had no idea where God was leading us. I was the mother of two children under age four, already working a full-time job. I was not looking to do something else. It was truly such an unexpected call at such an unexpected time.
Despite how I felt, I was willing to walk by faith and not by sight, to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, reaching out to others like leaders should. I knew there were biblical precedents for God unexpectedly calling people like me to lead, people who considered themselves unqualified, insecure and incapable. That’s how God receives all the glory!
Isn’t that what he had in mind when he called Moses? Highly unqualified, he was on the back side of the desert, tending sheep, when God unexpectedly asked him to go back to his homeland of Egypt to rescue three million Hebrew slaves and lead them to freedom. What an unexpected call at such an unexpected time—just like me.
I was passing through a small regional airport when God unexpectedly drew my attention to posters of missing women and children. He was asking me to help find tens of millions of slaves scattered around the world and to rescue them. How could I not, at the very least, experience the same emotions as Moses, to raise the same three objections he did— ones familiar to us all—especially when God calls us to lead unexpected assignments we never considered before.
1) Who Am I?
Moses felt insecure, and so did I—and I pointed this out to God just as emphatically as Moses did. But God told Moses that who he was didn’t matter as much as who was with him, so what mattered was who was with me and who had called me. I chose to trust in that truth every time I met with an official or an expert who had so much more knowledge than I did.
2) Who Are You, God?
Moses didn’t yet know God as intimately as he would come to know him in the years ahead. So it is with all of us when we begin to fulfill our purpose. Every new and unexpected initiative God has called me to start has deepened my relationship with him—whether it was driving around the back side of Australia leading youth, forming Equip & Empower Ministries, establishing A21, initiating Propel, writing books or launching a TV program. I continue to learn that it is never about who I am not, but rather, it is always about who He is in me.
3) I Am Not Eloquent of Speech.
How could I speak to experts in law enforcement, government, community groups or the media about slavery? I had experience speaking publicly, but I had never spoken to people about human trafficking. I did not know the right terms to use, nor did I have the right education to qualify me for this type of work. I felt like Moses going before Pharaoh, telling him to let the slaves go, when God assured me just as he assured Moses: I made you, and I will help you. I will teach you what to say.
My guess is that you can relate to every one of Moses’ fears and questions, especially during the times when God has called you to unexpected assignments, promotions or initiatives. How tempting it is to let our fears lead us away from our purpose and our destiny, to focus on what we are not, rather than who God is.
I’m not good enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not educated enough.
I’m not resourced enough.
What if I fail?
By the grace of God, I kept moving forward, knowing that any success Nick and I would have in helping to abolish slavery everywhere and forever would have nothing to do with us or our limitations, but everything to do with God’s great power at work in us—and every one of our team members.
What about you? What has God unexpectedly placed in your heart to do? What has he unexpectedly called you to do that you have yet to start? What team has he called you to recruit, train and lead? Sometimes it seems far more logical to give up than to keep having faith that something will happen. The idea, dream, promise or plan God has placed in your heart may not be logical. You may not have the resources. You may not know much about the mission. You may not even know where to begin.
Trust me, there will always be opportunities to falter, slow down or give up. But there is an assignment carved out for you—one that is most likely very unexpected—and God wants you to fulfill it. Years from now, I’m sure the results will most likely be very unexpected as well. And by unexpected, I mean wildly better than you ever hoped or imagined—just like A21.
A21 is a nonprofit organization fueled by the radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They are the abolitionists of the 21st century. They work with people around the world to free slaves and disrupt the demand.
“Attending The Global Leadership Summit made me realize that I can actually do something worth living for, even at my young age. The past three years, I experienced the best moments of my life. They left a landmark I will not soon forget. What excites me most is the fact that I did not only help kids academically, but also made a meaningful impact in their personal and spiritual lives. I thank God for granting me the opportunity to serve them and help them realize that they are beautifully and wonderfully created in the image of God.” – Nathan, Zambia
I produced a short video called, Nathan’s Life Journey. The purpose of the project was to illustrate a day in the life of a young Zambian living in a low-income community. I was captivated by Nathan’s humility and servitude. I was struck by his gentle spirit and how his circumstances always come second to his deep desire to make a difference. His desire is motivated in part due to inspiration he received at The Global Leadership Summit when he realized he could be a leader and make a difference, even at his young age.
As I look at the photo of this 22-year old, I can say his physical appearance hasn’t changed, his love for service hasn’t changed, but I’m glad to share that his circumstances surely have.
Education has always been his passion, and he was so grateful to be able to graduate high school with honors, thanks to the monthly support he received from Ridgepoint Community Church. However, he was heartbroken to realize many young people in his church weren’t graduating from high school.
He attended The Global Leadership Summit, and realized he could make a difference in these kids’ lives, so he came up with an idea.
Nathan decided to start an after-school tutoring program at his church where he tutored vulnerable children in the educational sponsorship program. What started out as a tutoring program turned into a place where kids asked for life and spiritual advice as well. This made his experience with each student an absolute joy. He loved the opportunity, but knew he also needed to continue to grow as a leader in order to best serve these kids.
That’s when he decided to join Junior Parliament, a Jubilee Centre initiative started out of inspiration from The Global Leadership Summit, empowering and equipping emerging leaders, and teaching them people advocacy through research and debate. It wasn’t long before Nathan became the speaker of Junior Parliament, in charge of all the deliberations.
Last year, he led the junior parliament on an exchange program to Seychelles. While they were there, they made such an impact that they appeared in the national newspaper on three separate occasions.
When he returned to Zambia, he continued tutoring his students. They all speak commendably about him and consider him not just a tutor, but a mentor they respect and love. He successfully tutored 25 9th graders and 15 12th graders, and all but one of those 40 students passed their major exams, which determine the advancement of their education in Zambia.
Nathan was finally able to go to University like he’d always wanted after receiving an acceptance letter and scholarship in November 2017 from one of the best universities in Zambia. He started his semester in January and the young man couldn’t be happier.
The Global Leadership Summit continues to inspire young leaders like Nathan, helping them realize that no matter their age, they too can make a difference.
David Temfwe is head of media for the Jubilee Center in Ndola, Zambia, and has been a part of the team bringing The Global Leadership Summit to Zambia for the past three years. He studied communications at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and later returned to Zambia with his wife, where he loves to capture stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Rev. Joan Cornelison grew up in Kenya. In 1996, she moved to the United States to continue her education when she felt called to ordained ministry. In 2000, she received her Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary. Her career includes service as a college professor, a pastor and president of Esther’s Hope Ministries, an organization she founded to see young women receive access to transformational and life changing education in her native country of Kenya. Through The Global Leadership Summit, she was inspired to face her fears with her ministry, and go all in to become a public non-profit organization previously serving 10 girls to now serving 100 girls at three schools.
Education, kindness and generosity laid the foundation of my future.
From an early age, my parents encouraged my siblings and me to pursue education and to work hard so that we would excel. They would often remind us, education was the stepping stone to a successful life. My dad and mom also taught the languages of kindness and generosity. During my childhood, there was always a guest in our home who was down on their luck, and our dining table always had room for someone who needed a meal. This tradition of sharing had been passed on from my grandmother to my mother.
My mother was one of 11 children. A Salvation Army missionary encouraged her to pursue her education and helped sponsor her so she could stay in school. She worked her way from a home-economics teacher to senior government official, which was quite a feat for a woman in her day. Along the way, she never forgot the generosity that gave her a chance at living a meaningful and fulfilled life, and she continued the tradition of kindness by educating other children quietly and without fanfare. (Story captured in my self-published book: Esther’s Hope.)
Since education was such a value in my family, I pursued my education, and graduated with a Master of Arts in Literature in 1991. After teaching for a few years, I began to experience a call to ordained ministry.
God prompted my soul for the next season of my journey.
I came to the USA and graduated with my Master of Divinity in 2000. I got married and served with the non-profit organization Hope Network for 13 years. God blessed me with a son in 2007, and unfortunately my marriage ended in 2009. It was about that time when I began to feel the Spirit’s gentle prompting in my soul. By 2017 God was leading me to leave my position to work full time to establish what He had put on my heart 10 years earlier.
On my mother’s deathbed in 2006, she asked me to continue her work, giving voice to urging I already felt inside. As I reflected on my mother’s life, I wanted to find out why she had such a passion for helping women. My research revealed the incredible obstacles young girls (particularly in developing nations) face as they pursue their education. As I began to comprehend the disparity between female and male education and began to look at the effects on the quality of life for these young girls, I felt an urgency to do something about giving these young girls a chance.
The Summit helped me face my fears.
Gary Haugen’s talk at the Summit in 2017 reminded me that safety is not the antidote to fear; that often fear is God’s way of inviting us to be brave. I confronted my fear and gained the courage I needed to pursue my dream to launch Esther’s Hope Ministries.
God had planted the seed in my heart through my upbringing and my mother’s legacy, but if it had not been for the Summit, I would still be negotiating the “But how, Lord?” I would have settled for safe. I would still be sitting in my corner office, sporting my title and receiving a steady paycheck, and all the while, I would have had to live with the agony of not taking that leap of faith. I would know the sorrow of not saying “Yes, Lord.” The Summit has given me the courage to take the first step, and trust God to lead me forward one step at a time. The Summit has given me the wisdom to be steadfast even when the going is rough. The Summit has taught me to reach out and ask for help. And most important, the Summit has encouraged me to wait patiently, for that one connection that could catapult the mission forward.
Esther’s Hope sponsors and mentors 100 girls in three schools in Kenya.
My dream for Esther Hope Ministries is to see young women receive access to transformational and life-changing education, and to see these young girls embrace the mindset that we are not our own. We are Christ’s and he blesses us, so we can be a conduit of blessing to others. If every one of these girls can teach these values to just one other girl, and encourage them to do the same, then my dream will be complete.
What if I missed this?
Had it not been for the “nudge” at the Summit, the miracle of these girls would not have been possible. I would never have experienced what it feels like to truly walk by faith, relying wholly on God, and see him working miracles in my life, one day at a time.
Attending the Summit is like a personal revival.
Not only have I found the atmosphere at the Summit uplifting and inspiring, with ample opportunity for networking, I also feel as though God has spoken directly to me through every presentation and challenge. He has invited me to go deeper still, and not settle for safe or as one speaker put it: “Don’t let anyone fool you with a title and a paycheck.” To me, each Summit has felt like a commissioning to go forth boldly, confront my fear and serve people passionately. The Summit and the stories I hear remind me that every time I feel like quitting, I am not alone in the vineyard. If I can persevere and work my space while they work their space, together we’ll create a beautiful tapestry of Christian service in the world.
Leaders must know that their invitation to the Summit is a divine appointment to experience the incredible stories of those who stepped out by faith and allowed God to use them in new and extraordinary ways.
The threads of history are woven together by the incredible stories of women and men who created remarkable change in our world and inspired us to believe the impossible could be possible.
When we hear these stories, we often feel something stir within our chests, and we begin to wonder, “How can I create real change in the world?”
As I have wrestled through that question, there is one story I have returned to over and over as a roadmap to living a life of impact.
William Wilberforce lived in the early 1800s and was an English politician, philanthropist, theologian, and a leader of the movement to end the slave trade in England. He was also a man who loved God so deeply and knew Him so intimately, he was driven to devote his life to fulfilling the divine calling placed on his life.
During the time of William Wilberforce, England had torn over 11 million slaves from their homeland, packed them onto small ships, abused them, beat them, treated them as cargo, and then sold them as slaves in order to make a profit.
But this all ended because an unlikely group of individuals were used by God in a remarkable way.
Although many people have heard the name of William Wilberforce, he wasn’t the only one leading this fight. As we journey deeper into this story, we discover the radical tribe of world-changers who linked arms to abolish the slave trade together. They were called, “The Clapham Sect.”
There was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a network of friends and families in England, with William Wilberforce as its centre of gravity, powerfully bound together by shared moral and spiritual values, by religious mission and social activism, by love for each other, and by marriage. Their greatest and most celebrated achievement was the abolition of the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire and beyond.1
Wilberforce is the name we most often read about in our history books and watch on the movie screen. He never attempted to abolish slavery on his own. Rather, he intentionally gathered a tribe of passionate activists known as the Clapham Sect, who would partner together to create real change.
The Clapham Sect was a group of social reformers in the Church of England. Because of their unity, their commitment to each other, their compelling vision and their faithful collaboration, the world was never the same.
Collaboration is one of the most important elements of creating positive impact in our world.
As leaders in our world today, collaboration may be more important than ever. If we desire to see change in our culture, we must make an intentional commitment to collaboration.
Let’s examine the workings of the Clapham Sect to identify three ways we can foster collaboration in our organizations.
1) Work to Establish Unity
Wilberforce… wanted to found a society, with the highest backing possible, to improve the morality of British life, through the courts, local government, censorship, legislation, prison reform, by every means possible. There was huge support for the society, across quite a broad spectrum. It was not just an evangelical movement. By making this his first major campaign, Wilberforce won the support of a powerful coalition.2
How often do we miss out on the chance to use our leadership to create positive impact because we are unwilling to reach across lines of division? If we want to foster collaboration on our teams to maximize our positive impact in the world, we must intentionally work to establish unity.
2) Be Willing to Sacrifice
It was costly for them. They gave it, in different ways and to different degrees, their lives, their money, their careers, their time and their health. Few people can make a more persuasive claim to have been doing the work of God in the world.3
Collaboration is birthed out of sacrifice. We must sacrifice time, energy, pride and our own personal agendas. Great leaders must make sacrifices to collaborate with others if they desire to see change take place in our world.
3) Craft a Compelling Vision
The abolitionists made a tactical decision to confine themselves to the abolition of the slave trade, and until that was accomplished to avoid even talking about the abolition of slavery itself.4
People don’t buy into a complicated vision. They buy into a clear and compelling mission. If we want to see greater collaboration in our organizations, our churches and our world, we must craft a compelling vision that will motivate others to partner with us.
The Clapham Sect had a big vision to abolish the slave trade, inviting people of all backgrounds to join them in the pursuit of this compelling goal.
The heroes of our history rarely accomplished their great feats alone. Rather, they collaborated with individuals who made it possible to accomplish what often seemed impossible. They chose unity, sacrifice and vision, and this led them to truly change the culture and the world.
Which of the three elements of collaboration do you need to focus on in this season of your leadership?
Hannah Gronowski is founder and director of GenerationDistinct.com, an organization that exists to inspire and equip the next generation to discover their passions and fight for justice, in order to make God’s name great in this world. She has a passion to empower the next generation to become leaders and difference makers in a way that sparks a global movement. Hannah is an author, blogger and speaker who lives in the Chicagoland area.
“The fires were moving so fast, people barely had time to get out of their houses, and couldn’t stop to take any valuables,” says Kevin Finkbiner, lead pastor of NewLife Church in Sonoma County, California, whose church building became a shelter for 300 evacuees of the recent wildfires. “We had guests showing up at our church in their pajamas and barefoot. There was no time to get shoes on if they wanted to save their lives.”
Since it is in the DNA and vision of NewLife to exist for its community, their response to the disaster was natural. Of course, they would open the doors to people displaced by the fires.
As evacuations were being announced, the pastoral staff and volunteers of the church responded without hesitation or question. They flocked to the church before 5 a.m. to serve those in need. “They just knew that because of our vision and mission, we would provide shelter for guests who had been evacuated,” says Kevin.
Because their vision as a church is to exist for the community, they wanted to do more than just house people and provide meals. “We knew we were not simply providing a meal and a bed,” says Kevin. “Our vision was to host guests who have been displaced by the fires.
We shared with our guests how welcome they were in our home.
“That paradigm shaped everything our leadership team and volunteer base did throughout the week,” said Kevin. “We worked hard to create an environment that was stimulating for children because we knew how hard it would be for kids to sit in a room all day for eight days; we showed movies and had children’s theater troops come in to perform shows every afternoon. We knew that many of our guests would be going to work every day, so each morning, we prepared to-go lunch bags. We also realized that the majority of our guests were primarily Spanish speaking, so we worked diligently to have translators on site 24 hours a day.”
These events galvanized in very tangible ways the church’s vision to create irresistible environments where people can engage with God. “It allowed us to wrap flesh around the love that God has for our community in Sonoma County,” says Kevin. “Over and over, we heard comments from guests, city officials, law enforcement and other governmental agencies that our evacuation center felt different than other centers. They said it was full of warmth and hope. I think this is because everything we did flowed out of our deep love for Jesus, which compels us to show our growing and tangible love for others.
“I think it’s changed the perception of church in Sonoma County.”
Stories of hope out of the ashes
Family enters relationship with Jesus
Two days into housing guests, Kevin was approached by an interpreter who let him know that a family of four would like to talk. Through the interpreter, the family shared they’ve never attended church and don’t have a relationship with Jesus. They said the ways they’ve been loved by the people who were serving them made them want to know more about Jesus. The family said they wanted to enter into a relationship with Jesus. “It was a beautiful moment,” says Kevin. “I went home that night and burst into tears, both from the depth of pain I was seeing in our community and because of the hope that was rising from the ashes.”
Retired volunteer firefighter finds community
Throughout the week, the volunteer base (about 500 people) consisted of 50/50 New Lifers and non-New Lifers. “My core belief is that the more new New Lifers rub shoulders with people in our community, the more people in our community will want to meet Jesus,” says Kevin. “I was thrilled when we welcomed non-New Lifers into every area of serving during our time as a shelter.” On the last day, a retired fire fighter came up to Kevin told him he had retired from the fire department years ago. He said, “When I served, they were my tribe. I’ve never really gone to church, but I’ve been volunteering at New Life this week, and I want you to know that New Life is now my tribe.”
Opening up the NewLife facility to serve the community was so natural because it was right in line with the vision that God’s given them—one that was birthed out of attending and hosting The Global Leadership Summit for so many years.
“The influence of the GLS was key in the purchase of our church property. The leadership team decided the property we purchased should be a blessing to our larger community,” says Kevin. “We decided to build our building as a community center that could be used by schools, dance troops, Cub Scouts and other community groups. This is one way that we’re striving to bless our community. We also decided to make the building an emergency shelter equipped with showers, a full kitchen and space for care. God sparked all of this through the GLS.
“The Summit gives us common language and training around our vision. Leaders have been equipped with tools necessary to lead and a vision to reach our community, which helped us quickly convert our space to a center to house guests who were displaced by the fires. I’m so thankful to the leadership development work of the Summit to hundreds of people who call New Life home.
“Our pastoral teams’ biggest takeaway from the Summit is that great leadership enhances vision and streamlines our ability to love, serve and lead our larger community throughout Sonoma County. We’ve learned through the Summit that thriving churches are led by growing leaders who have a vision to lead well in our areas of influence.
Erwin McManus is not only the pastor of MOSAIC,a church known for its innovation, creativity, diversity and social entrepreneurism; he is also a cancer survivor, igniting a movement of leaders living lives with no regrets. We’re excited to have Erwin back at GLS 2018.
Read this interview, originally published by Relevant Magazine, to learn more about his insights on how to live a life with no regrets.
Q: For people who haven’t had a chance to read The Last Arrow yet, tell us a little bit about why you wanted to write this book.
McManus: I’ve seen people with incredible talent, potential and promise sort of crash and burn, and some of them just disappear quietly into the night. I started thinking about the characteristics of people who never settle—people who, somehow, have the internal resilience to overcome a lot of failure, a lot of disappointment, a lot of difficulties.
And I wanted to be able to write a book you could read as if you’re at the end of your life, before you’re at the end of your life, so you can live your life without regret.
Q: How did the experience of being diagnosed with cancer change your perspective, especially as it pertains to some of the messages you’d been researching for this book?
McManus: What I think is really important for me about the book is, I wrote it as if I were dying. I finished the manuscript, and then they told me I had cancer. The cancer had expanded further than they’d hoped, and it was more advanced than we would want.
I had to face the reality that this might be my last Christmas with my wife and kids, and I needed to finish this book. The title, The Last Arrow, may have been a pretty powerful foreshadowing that it was my last book.
When I went back and started editing the book, what really struck me was, I didn’t feel the need to change anything in the book. Having this overwhelming realization that I could be dead didn’t change the perspective of the book.
Q: There are people who are comfortable getting into a rhythm and playing it safe. Then there are people who are comfortable taking risks and never really settling. What are some things you observed about the latter group of people?
McManus: I think people who observe from the outside do not live their lives for themselves. They live their lives for others. If you live your life for yourself, you can create a pretty comfortable experience, and you don’t really have to risk a great deal. To live a level of comfort and security is really a minimal requirement on your life.
The moment you start to live your life for others, it moves you into risk mode and moves you out of safety and security mode. You ask the question, “What’s the most good that I can do in the world?”
Q: I feel like some of the barriers I’ve seen for people who can’t shift their attitude are fear and regret. How can someone move beyond these past transgressions so they can start a new chapter, living a different kind of life?
McManus: I write a lot about fear and regret in the book, because it’s paralyzing. And you have to have a particular posture with your past. You have to realize that your past will be your future unless you have the courage to create a different one. People who accomplish a lot in life, people who live without regret, people who never settle, it’s not because they didn’t fail or they don’t have a backstory of disappointment. They just don’t let it define them.
I think that’s the huge thing—you can’t fix what happened before in your life, but it doesn’t have to fix you into a pattern for life. I have failed often in my life. I know I’ve been disappointed and have disappointed many people. But the whole point of it is that if you don’t risk, you don’t really have a lot of failures on your resume. If you’re gonna risk a lot, you’re gonna fail a lot.
And that’s why it can’t be about your ego. If it’s about your ego, you’re going to protect your story by not taking huge risks. But if it’s not about your ego, then who cares if you fail? Who cares if other people think you blew it or you messed up? You understand that what you’re living for is more important than your reputation. I always tell people, what you fear establishes the boundaries of your freedom.
So, if you’re afraid of heights, you stay low; if you’re afraid of people, you stay alone. If you’re afraid of the outdoors, you stay inside. That’s one of the reasons you need to lean into your fears. Your fears really become the material in which your life is limited. Most of these things that we’re afraid of never come to pass. We tend to be more afraid of shadows and possibilities.
Fear is a pessimistic act of faith about the future. Fear and worry say the worst possible scenario is gonna happen. So, in a sense, why allow faith to operate your life from the dark side? I tell people, you don’t know how it’s gonna play out, you don’t know what the future holds, you don’t know if you’re gonna succeed or fail.
What becomes important is giving yourself to something that matters, whether you succeed or fail. Worry is really trying to control things that are outside of your control, which actually sucks the energy out of your soul. Stop worrying about the things that are out of your control, and start focusing on the things that you actually do have control over.
Q: Just as a cultural observation, I feel like fear, worry and anxiety are really prevalent among a lot of millennials, probably for a variety of factors. What would you say to a millennial who is on the cusp of settling into a rhythm that could define them for adulthood or taking a risk that could change their lives?
McManus: My son is 29 and my daughter is 25, so it’s the same thing I would tell them. Part of the reason that anxiety, fear and worry have an overwhelming effect on a person in their 20s—I know this sounds weird—is because you haven’t failed enough.
See your 20s, even your early 30s, as your opportunity to fail a lot, often and creatively. Don’t even look at it as a time when you have to prove you’re an expert. A lot of the problem is that we live in a culture where we measure ourselves against people who are prodigious. So, they’re great at something when they’re 15 or 16, and we actually believe that if we haven’t found fame by the time we’re 24, we’ve missed our window. We need to stop measuring our lives against people who are adorations to the story.
I wrote my first book when I was 40; I started a fashion company when I was 50. I don’t think you need to put yourself in this category of “I have to prove I’m great at something by the time I’m 28.” Just do a lot of things that you’re bad at now.
Get it out of the way, so by the time you hit your stride at 32, 34, you know, “Hey, I’m not good at all that other stuff, but I’ve found a couple of things that I’m pretty good at. And if I work really hard, I could actually be great at it.”
Erwin McManus is senior pastor of MOSAIC, a church in Los Angeles known for its innovation, creativity, diversity and social entrepreneurism. A thought-provoking communicator, McManus has spoken to more than a million people in 50 countries on leadership, creativity and culture. A recent cancer survivor, his latest book, The Last Arrow, is about leaving nothing undone and living with relentless ambition and no regrets.
One of the hardest things a leader will ever do is lead in the midst of chaos. Difficult seasons can pull out the best, or the worst in someone and their team.
Bishop Walter Harvey has led Parklawn Assembly of God Church in the heart of Milwaukee for the last 25 years. Little did he know how God would use the Summit to prepare him and his team before a series of events led to the August 13, 2016 Milwaukee riots.
Difficult seasons in leadership are unavoidable. So how do you prepare for it? And what are the outcomes in leading well through chaos?
Bishop Walter shares what he learned from leading his church through the Milwaukee riots, and how the Summit came at a strategic season in the church’s ministry.
1. Invest in your leadership and develop the leadership capacity of your team
One of our church values is investing in leadership. And the GLS provides a tangible and practical way to do that.
For example, I am committed to reading one book each week and listening to 5-10 podcasts or messages each week. My leadership team also signed on to read and listen to podcasts regularly. We each submit a summary of our takeaways at monthly gatherings. It is more than a task for us; it’s a journey and covenant to greater development. We know those we lead will benefit when our leadership bucket is full.
2. Clarify your mission
My biggest takeaway from the Summit has been around clarifying my mission. I have a personal mission statement: “Live Full—Die Empty.” It means I must maintain a full capacity of passionate leadership, which I am depositing into younger leaders, so when I pass, I have no regrets, nor do I cause the next generation to wish they had received more from me.
God has placed on my heart the dream of a place where streets are safe, neighborhoods are clean, families are united and resourced, employment and entrepreneurship are fair and free-flowing, children are educated and held in high esteem, government (police and elected officials) are taking leadership from and in partnership with the citizens in an environment that is not antagonistic or partisan, churches are building people holistically and the young adult generation is positioned to regenerate this dream to the next group of emerging leaders.
Without a clear mission and vision, we cannot accomplish this dream.
3. Be present and show up, even in your imperfection
Despite poverty and a sense of hopelessness inside the city, I am not discouraged. I’m actually encouraged, and I try to see my city through spiritual eyes.
The August 2016 riots erupted a few blocks from our church, revealing our scars and imperfections. They highlighted the deep sense of frustration and disenfranchisement of many poor and spiritually impoverished people in our city.
They also highlighted the church in both its broken and healthy states. At our worst, we are segregated, in competition with one another, too committed to our denominations and prideful doctrines than we are to the people in our communities. At our best, we came together in our imperfections and displayed our scars to each other.
Scars tell a story! We walked among the people who gathered around the scene of the riot. We talked with them, prayed and began to develop relationships with them. We loved, listened, learned and then we were allowed to lead many of them to light. The light meant taking them to church, inviting them into our homes and lives, connecting some with educational opportunities and jobs. It was definitely not a one-way transaction. We, the local church received just as much. We received
Rebuke for not being there before the riot occurred.
Guarded trust that had to be stewarded to gain more.
Acknowledgment that we did come, in spite of our imperfections. Our scars were revealed and not covered up.
My prayer is that many would declare a personal faith in Jesus as their Lord and their God.
4. Open your heart and your doors for God to work in and through you
Prior to the riots, our church had been led to create space in our hearts and schedules for what we called a “surge” of souls—our church theme in 2016. We introduced people to Christ, welcomed them into discipleship programs and invited them to serve in the church and community. A year earlier, God had whispered to me to “to prepare for the surge.”
And on August 13, the surge was outside our doors.
The greatest outcome was seeing many other churches follow our lead, and join us. These relationships are still intact and growing stronger. Together, we continue to provide leadership and partnership with the government. We provide mentoring and assistance to the public schools we adopted.
Most of all, we continue to provide the gift of presence where previously there was pain and anger.
5. Look outside your walls, and realign your focus
If I had not attended the GLS, I would have been an observer during this time of crisis, rather than being an instrument in God’s hand, rewriting human and heavenly history. The church I lead would have continued to focus on the inside condition rather than on the surge outside.
Our church has realigned our focus outside our walls. We don’t want to be churches that only draw attention during moments of crisis and then fade away. Here are the ways we realigned our focus:
We developed an “adopt a block” program that continues to clean the neighborhoods as well as provide the gift of presence in the park where children play.
We organize a pastors group to partner with us in adopting neighborhoods, schools and connect people spiritually to God.
We realigned our church budget, strategy, staff and programs to facilitate youth and community outreach.
We sponsor community events, youth game nights and sporting events.
We even changed our midweek service from being church-focused to being community focused.
We are re-purposing our church kitchen into a food incubation space for entrepreneurs.
Finally, we have strategized for economic development in order to sustain these changes with financial resources.
6. Don’t wait. Don’t stop. Dance!
Don’t wait until crisis happens. But if it does, go among the people safely and wisely. Lead by serving in a way that honors God and is consistent with Scripture.
Finally, don’t stop loving, listening and learning. Be consistent. That is the place where the Holy Spirit is dancing. Since August 13, we have been following His lead as He takes us in His arms to dance. Let Him lead you, spin you, dip you, toss you—even catch you. He won’t drop you!
We are grateful for leaders like Bishop Walter Harvey who lead churches that bring healing and hope to broken communities through restoration, and showing the servant heart of Jesus in tangible ways. May difficult seasons in your life bring out your best leadership.
Steve Lawson says that when it comes to public speaking, we all need a “Mount Rushmore” of communicators. In my 27 years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an essential concept in my own personal growth for two main reasons:
1) There’s an old proverb that says, “In a multitude of counselors, there’s wisdom”
Learning from an eclectic tribe of mentors, even within the same field, has proven incredibly helpful for me. Whether it’s leadership, parenting or public speaking, listening to and leaning into varied voices has born great fruit in my own growth and development.
2) When it comes to communicating, there are basically 4 kinds of speakers: explainers, illustrators, applicators and ‘all of the above’
The best kind, of course, is the last kind—‘all of the above.’ What you want to avoid at all costs is an imbalance toward any of the first three in that list. This is hard because we are all naturally weighted toward either explaining, illustrating or applying.
Explainers will give great content, but they will bore you to death. The presentation typically goes something like this: “It means, it means, it means… Thanks for having me!” The audience is left thinking, “What just happened here?”
Illustrators will keep you on the edge of your seat with their stunning stories and analogies, but they will give you minimal content.
Applicators run the danger of fudging on content in order to move you, and boy will they you leave inspired. (They’re known to overstate facts and be a touch deceitful.)
All of the Above—The most potent communicators are those who strike a perfect balance between content, stories/analogies and inspirational application. That’s the bullseye we’re aiming for.
When looking for your own personal “Mount Rushmore” of communication mentors, you not only want people who do it well, but you want to look for all four kinds of public speakers if at all possible
When I started speaking at age 17, I wasn’t smart enough to say, “Okay, I need to find an explainer right now.” But that is exactly what ended up happening, and I’m so grateful for this. I spent many years apprenticing under an explainer, learning the tools of how to mine great content.
Not long after that, I interned for another man who was a phenomenal illustrator. He used to tell me, “Learn to think illustratively.” To him, everything was an illustration, and he even gave me exercises that forced me to come up with my own illustrations.
Finally, I spent three years working for a great applicator.
Meanwhile, in the course of all my learning, I was afforded opportunities to speak. If you had heard me speak during my time with “Dr. Explainer,” you would’ve gotten, well, a lot of explaining. The same is true for the time I worked with “Dr. Illustrator” and “Dr. Applicator.”
Over time, however, my own voice started to emerge, and the balance between the three gave way to me becoming more and more of the fourth type of communicator—‘all of the above.’
While not every message I give strikes the balance perfectly, I feel like I’m on a great trajectory because of time well spent with my “Mount Rushmore” of communicators.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn here.
Bryan Loritts is the Lead Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Silicon Valley, California. He also serves as President of the Kainos Movement, an organization committed to seeing the multi-ethnic church become the new normal in our world. In addition to these positions, Bryan serves on the board of trustees for Biola University. He’s been a featured speaker at The Global Leadership Summit and a host of other events.
Is leadership something we’re born with, or is it something we learn?
Yes. Both, and.
Some people seem to be born with leadership skills. These people may be more charismatic, sometimes more extroverted, more affirming. Maybe he or she was president of their class and captain of a team in high school. Their voice holds the room’s attention, and their ideas catch on throughout an organization.
You Have to Learn Leadership
But, in my experience, natural leaders often rely on instincts. Instincts work for a while, but eventually they fail. They do not scale up to tackling new or more complex leadership challenges—to creating plans for strategic leadership or for effecting system-wide change. That takes processes, strategies and tools that don’t always come with instinct or experience.
Other people are dropped into leadership positions without natural leadership gifting. Maybe it’s the wise, compassionate woman who is asked to lead her Bible study. Maybe it’s the pastor who loves theology or biblical counseling, but who feels overwhelmed when faced with leading a congregation.
That’s the situation I was in during my second year of a church plant years ago. We’d successfully launched the church, counting 234 people in attendance for the first Sunday. But then we moved past the frenetic energy of the launch, saw our numbers settle at around a hundred and slid toward rhythms of regular church life. And I realized I did not know what to do next. I was stuck, and leadership was the lever I needed to get through.
I am not a natural leader. I am a nerd, thank you very much. While some of my good friends were leading student government in school, I was reading the encyclopedia for fun.
This love of learning became a powerful tool when I got stuck after our church’s launch. I was in the middle of a DMin program during the launch, and I focused my dissertation on leadership and influence.
Through that process, I learned tools of leadership. I learned how to apply ethical principles of persuasion to lead our church to where God wanted us to be.
You Can Learn
Let me repeat that: I learned leadership. Studying leadership principles provided the tools I needed to get unstuck and lead my church well.
That experience showed me that we can learn leadership skills. If you are placed in a position of leadership and you don’t have a natural gift for leadership, you may need to express leadership that’s not in your natural gift set.
You will need to fall back on tools and processes to do that—tools and processes that can be learned.
You do not have to be a natural-born leader to become a strong leader. You can learn how to lead, to move toward strategic goals and to change your church for God.
Furthermore, leadership is different depending on who you are. Some of the best leaders I know are introverted. I’ve seen great leaders who are men and I’ve seen great leaders who are women. I’ve seen them young and old. But, they all know, you have to find the way of leadership that works for you.
Leaders are Learners
There is an old phrase, “Leaders are learners.” I think that is true, but would add you can learn your way into leadership. Most pastors I know have had the same experience over and over. They’re not learning, but just repeating the experience of the last year or years.
So, get some books. Do some reading. Get a mentor. Leadership can be learned if we will be learners.
This article originally appeared on ChristianityToday.com, here.
Ed Stetzer is the executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College. He is a prolific author, and well-known conference and seminar leader. Ed has planted, revitalized and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is former executive director for Lifeway Researchand is a contributing editor for Christianity Today and a columnist for Outreach Magazine.