I was hoping to get these done while I was out there at the end of each day, but my roommates were just so adamant about sleep that I felt like I should turn off my computer and go to bed, so… Oh well. Seriously, we had some great discussion and I didn’t want to sacrifice that in order to write stuff down here. “You can’t fake presence.” (one of Erwin McManus’ statements) was definitely in play. So, the following are some thoughts from Thursday’s sessions:
Andy Stanley opened the morning with some thoughts about leading in uncertain times. His main idea is that uncertainty is why we need leaders. If everyone in the church is certain about where we’re headed and how to get there, then we don’t really need leaders. It’s in those times of uncertainty that God shows up and brings leaders to the surface. I wondered, as he spoke, “Why do so many in leadership positions spend so much effort trying to eliminate uncertainty?”
As I think about this more, I recognize that not all in positions of leadership are truly leading. Also, there is a ton of leadership that happens outside the constructs of our leadership structures.
“It’s ok to be uncertain – but not ok to be unclear.” We need to be clear about the vision for our ministries. What is it that God has called us to do? What was that first spark that started the fire of leadership in our lives? “We’ll never be more than 80% certain.” None of us knows how every little thing will unfold, so we need to be sure to keep track of that anchor that is the original vision and keep moving forward into uncertainty. (I’m just remembering some great thoughts from Leonard Sweet’s AquaChurch about using anchors to move forward and even change direction; they’re not just about keeping the ship in the same place.)
“Many churches are dead because they’ve long ago abandoned the vision and fallen in love with their plans.” When a church loses sight of why they started a particular project in the first place, that project loses a great deal of value. We need to be flexible with our plans as we stick to the vision.
The second speaker of the day was Guy Kawasaki. Rodd and Jimmy are both Macboys, so the man-crush vibe was a little strong, but he was really fun to listen to and had a lot of great stuff to say about the art of innovation. His thoughts about putting out a version 1.0 were especially helpful to hear. Sometimes, “Don’t worry – be Crappy…” should be our motto. Put some wheels on the idea, get it going, get it out there, then fine-tune and fix it. Some of his stories of the early mac-days particularly flesh this idea out. He called one of the products they were shipping when Mac was first growing out of Apple a “revolutionary piece of crap”, but they made exponential progress when they tweaked on great ideas “with elements of crapiness to them”.
In the next session, Jud Wilhite talked about how our distorted self image need to be replaced with God’s image. We need to live out of God’s view of who we are: We are loved. We are chosen. We are part of a plan. Ravi Zacharias followed Jud’s reminder of who we are with some thoughts about the pillars that should define our lives: Eternity, Morality, Accountability, and Charity. Ravi is a great thinker and communicator. “You can mess around with infrastructure, but the foundation must have integrity.”
The last session of the night was the Aussie session. Brian Houston of Hillsong Church spoke about the church as the house of God. This is a guy who is madly in love with the church of Jesus Christ! I think he could make people want to get up and go be the church, even if they don’t know what that means yet. A haunting question he asked, though – “If they can’t flourish, why would they stay planted?” If people can’t grow and develop and live life that is really life in our ministries, why would they stay?
Nick Vujicic spoke after Brian and talked about believing in the greatness of God. This was one of the recurring themes that hit me during the week. “I’d be dishonoring God if I didn’t live my life believing I can change the world.” I have to admit, I haven’t been thinking of myself in those terms lately. I used to. I used to all the time. But lately I’ve just been ‘getting ready for Wednesday’ or ‘working on stuff’ or ‘planning stuff’… I want to go back to ‘changing the world’. God is big enough!
“An excuse is a skin of reason stuffed with lies.” A notable quote from Nick. How many times do we stop short of God’s vision for our lives because of excuses? There may be a covering of reason (good stewardship, not offending people, can’t afford to lose members, avoid the controversy…on and on) but within the reason, is the lie: “it’s not worth it.” Hey, if you’re not changing the world I guess it’s not worth it, but if the struggle is into God’s vision, it’s worth giving everything. Nick is definitely not buying the lie and is changing the world – without arms and legs. He was born without them.
We need to stop making excuses.
Sorry this is a bit long, and the shotgun method may not be the best, but I wanted to get some of this on here while it’s still fresh. Oh, the free Chick-Fil-A was awesome at lunch and Claim Jumper for dinner was a great choice by Rodd!