Solomon Goes to the Summit

Solomon would have attended the Global Leadership Summit.

How do I know? He wrote in one of his bestsellers, “Let the wise listen, and add to their learning” (Proverbs 1:5). If he had known that Willow Creek produces the most powerful leadership training anywhere, he would be on the front row.

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It’s astonishing and mind-boggling that over 300,000 people attended the GLS either on-site at Willow Creek Community Church or live at one of the 459 satellite sites scattered throughout North America. Now that the summit has ended, the talks and interviews will be presented in 675 additional cities throughout 125 countries in 59 languages.

4 Indispensable Ingredients of Leadership (Can you find them below?)

You’ve heard the question, Are leaders made or born? Why do people ask it? Are they hoping beyond hope that there might be hope for someone who should be leading and isn’t? Are they wondering if they themselves have leadership potential?

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Here is the answer to the “made” or “born” question: There are two categories of people when it comes to leadership: those who have the seed or potential for leadership, and those who don’t. When we cut through the fog and get honest, we know that there are some people who aren’t going to lead if they attend every seminar, read every book, shadow effective leaders, and live for a thousand years. They don’t have the desire, energy, wiring, or character to lead. They can be contributing members of the team and even serve somewhere, but their leadership potential will always be limited to driving the ice cream truck and recruiting someone to fill in when he’s not feeling good (no offense to ice cream truck drivers!).

One Bedrock Truth That Improved My Leadership

If I had a scoop of ice cream for every time I heard John Maxwell say, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” I could cruise around the neighborhood in my own ice cream truck spreading glee far and wide.

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It is true. Everything absolutely rises and falls on leadership.  E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. This is not a cliché; it is a rock-solid reality. Place the right leader in the most daunting situation and he or she will find a way for the cause to prevail. Settle the wrong person into the most favorable climate and the project flounders and often fails.

3 Leadership Lessons from David 20 Minutes after He Became King

In the Valley of Elah, David took a deep breath, sneered at his fears, and defeated Goliath. In the city of Gath, he lost his mind along with his courage and pretended to be insane.

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Like most everyone who is trapped in a human body, David was not consistent. He rode the personality rollercoaster — with his hands in the air — before there were rollercoasters. In our day, we bet on American Pharaoh (the latest Triple Crown winner) or on the Super Bowl. Back then, bookies set the odds on which David (the brave one or the insane one) would show up on any particular day. No one knew. Including David.

3 Lessons from David 20 Minutes after His “Dirty” Dancing Affair

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Aspiring politicians dread moments like these. They’re campaign and career killers. They can destroy years of hard work in a few regrettable seconds. A moment when you forget the third part of your three-part plan (Hello, Rick Perry!). Or you shriek with delight to the dismay of your strongest backers (Quiet down, Mr. Dean). Or you send a scandalous text (Sorry; not enough blog space). Or you decide to do a half-naked celebratory dance in front of the entire nation …

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Well, at least that one seems like a career killer. Strangely enough, though, among the big mistakes King David made during his life, deciding to turn a worship service into his own Dancing with the Stars audition did not end up damaging his career. Instead, he only gained more fame, more power, and more respect from the people he was leading. How could something so outrageous become such a savvy political move?

3 Leadership Lessons from David 20 Minutes after Uriah’s Body Assumed Room Temperature

David woke up from his late-afternoon nap and strolled out onto the roof of the palace. As his dreamy eyes scanned the city below, he couldn’t help but notice a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. His brain went back to sleep; his emotions came fully alive.

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Hit the pause button while we gather some facts.

3 Words of Wisdom from David to Saul 20 Minutes after Saul Tried to Pin David to the Wall

His face was decorated with constant fury. His life as Mr. Nice Guy was gone.

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Saul was no longer godly and wise (and all those wonderful things that a King of Israel should have been known for). He no longer prayed that God would make Israel strong and prosperous. Instead, he was consumed with envy and anger. It ate him up every moment of every day. “Come hell or high water,” Saul decided, “I will kill David.”

3 Leadership Lessons from David 20 Minutes after He Killed Goliath

David’s steps rhymed with his breathing. He needed a break in his routine and his brothers needed supplies, so his feet hurried toward the battlefield.

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Everyone knows what happened next.

David delivered the food. Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather, who held eleven world titles and was undefeated with a 48-0 record, (AKA Goliath) strutted out and jeered at Israel’s army. Saul and the other soldiers ran like terrified squirrels in front of a fox.

David volunteered to attack the giant. After a spirited discussion among the experts about whether David had a fighting chance, they all crossed their fingers, held their breath, and prayed while David descended into the valley and gobsmacked the giant. David sawed off Goliath’s head and held it high for all to see while the birds above did laps and waited for their meal.

God achieved a great victory; David was His instrument. Twenty minutes later  before the adrenaline rush wore off — David penned these leadership lessons:

  • Always compare the size of your giant to the size of God.

Everyone is tempted to view people and circumstances through human eyes. After all, everyone happens to be human. But when something in the world needs to change, when God stirs a holy discontent in your heart, it’s a cop-out to dismiss the call because the problem is too big. It’s a lack of faith. You are letting down God when you attempt only things that you can do without Him.

When I was a young pastor (that goes back a while), I was listening to Rick Warren at a pastors’ conference. “I don’t believe in the word impossible,” he announced with a full-fledged smirk on his face, “because with God, all things are possible. In fact,” he continued, “I deployed a pair of scissors, and I cut that word out of my dictionary!” I don’t remember whether anyone else applauded, but I did.

David saw what no one else could see: that the size of the giant is irrelevant when compared with the size of God.

What giant is God prompting you to defeat? How big is that giant? How big is God?

  • Don’t let criticism keep you from God’s call.

Let’s be honest. It’s easier to criticize someone who sets a big goal than to stick your neck out and try something crazy. Most people are intimidated by people with unreasonable faith so they try to cut them down to size. Who should have challenged Goliath? Saul, the biggest guy on Israel’s side of the creek and the so-called leader of Israel. So when David stepped up and volunteered, Saul’s knee-jerk response was, “You are not able. You are a 98-pound weakling compared to this terrifying warrior.” (See 1 Samuel 17:33.)

Saul was looking out for David; he had David’s best interest at heart. He wanted to protect him from humiliation and defeat. As the wise, experienced sage, Saul framed the context. He put the situation into perspective. But he didn’t factor in God. So he was wrong.

David was fully aware that the stakes were high. If he failed, he would be bird food. He expected for God to come through, but if God didn’t, he was okay with that. It was simply not acceptable to him to sit back and let this giant mock God.

Hang this on a hook inside your mind: Whenever you decide to do something audacious for God, your biggest critics will not be atheists; they will be Christian people who “know better”. They don’t want you to get hurt. They love you and care about you. They are trying to protect you. Here’s a reality check: Hopefully someone will rally with you and cheer you on, but be ready for the older and wiser crowd to try and pull you down.

What impact does criticism have on you? Does it inspire you to prove the naysayers wrong (with God’s help, of course)? Or does it send you into meltdown mode where you’re paralyzed into inaction?

  • Use what you have, and leave the results to God.

In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell argues that David actually had the upper hand in his encounter with Goliath — because David used what he had. David didn’t attempt to fight Goliath on Goliath’s terms. (Gladwell’s conclusions are somewhere between fascinating and convincing. If you haven’t already, be sure to read his book.)

Wearing Saul’s armor made things worse, so David looked at his inventory and chose the weapon that fit this situation. Since he didn’t have video games or iTunes to pass the time while watching his dad’s sheep, he wrote and sang songs and he practiced hurling stones at a target. He wasn’t just good, he was darn good. He could bury a stone in a pomegranate from 50 yards away, and he could take down a lion or a bear. When David later won over his sixth wife, he might have used his harp to entertain and woo her. But that was unlikely to work with Goliath, so he used the weapon he knew best: his trusty sling.

David walked toward the loud mouth, the spear, and the armor, grasped his sling in one hand and the stones in the other, and shouted, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands. I will strike you down and cut off your head (so do you want to hand me your sword now, or do I have to take it away from you?).”

God doesn’t call people to action without simultaneously equipping them to succeed. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize all of your assets, but find them and use them. And get ready to be part of a miracle.

What cause is God calling you to tackle? What do you have that He might be able to use? When will you get started?

How Does a Leader Prevent a Failure Like This?

If I am right — and it’s an irrefutable fact that I am right every time I’m not wrong — this is a big deal. It’s enormously important: The leader is responsible for an organization’s DNA.

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In my previous blog post, I related a disastrous story. Subsequently, I received more feedback than ever, probably because everyone can picture themselves sitting in that circle and feeling that pain. And anyone with a brain and a heart wants to make sure that he or she bears others’ burdens, not adds to them.