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leadership and the power of rubber bands


i'm literally obsessed with nancy ortberg's leadership book, "unleashing the power of rubber bands: lessons in non-linear leadership." i've tried multiple times to move on to the enormous stack of leadership books sitting on my desk but i just can't. instead i keep highlighting, re-reading, and recommending this book to everyone i know.

i think the reason i connect so deeply with this book is because it really is a book about non-linear leadership. for most of my life, i've worked in places where leadership-specifically how to be a great leader-was a very linear track. Do this, then do this, then that and after several years of experience - POOF! you're a great leader! well, that track didn't always work for me. i'm creative and relational and a strategic leader, which often makes it hard to describe me and my leadership development track.

i wish i could quote the entire book but instead i'll highlight the sections that meant the most to me. and visit nancy's site to download a free chapter!
"Great leadership is much more about creating a culture, and culture transforms people in much more profound ways than systems do." (p.xvi)

"The journey of leadership is as much inward as it is outward. Leadership, done well, will continually be a force that drives you back into the center of yourself to find out what you are really made of...Leaders ought to be the most self-aware people in the room." (p.124)

"I think the core of leadership is hope. Leadership is the hope that we can change the things that need to be changed and create what we cannot now imagine." (p.7)

Have you read the book? Has it transformed your leadership or the way in which you view leadership?

May you be filled with hope today as you lead with confidence, strength and inspiration.


my holy discontent - bad meetings

in his book "holy discontent," bill hybels describes a person's holy discontent as the one aspect of this broken world that, when you see it, touch it, or get near it, you just can't stand it.

i'm not sure if this is what hybels meant, but today i am fully acknowledging my holy discontent for sitting through poorly led meetings.

here are a few suggestions for leading a great meeting in which everyone feels empowered to contribute:
1. Start the Meeting on Time. this gets the meeting off to a great start and communicates to the group that you value their time and that you plan to lead as efficiently as possible.

2. Don't Waste Time. it's easy for groups to get side-tracked or distracted, lead confidently by keeping everyone on topic. if you hear someone say, "i know this is off-topic but.." immediately interrupt by asking the person to save the comment for after the meeting.

3. Introduce & Explain Each Person's Role. lately i've been to a bunch of meetings where i didn't know the other people around the table, so i spent too much mental energy trying to figure out why each person had been invited and what their specific role in the group would be. help preserve your group's mental energy by introducing each person at the beginning of the meeting and explaining why each person is sitting around the table.

4. Find the Best Facilitator to Lead the Meeting. and this often isn't the leader of the group. the skill of facilitating a great meeting is a completely different skill than leading a team. find the best facilitator you can by looking for a person who is focused, a good listener, able to steer conversation, call out the best in people, and determine next steps. once you've found a great facilitator ask this person to lead every meeting you are responsible for.

5. Before Calling a Meeting, Ask Yourself 10 times if this Meeting is Absolutely Necessary. often times, we have a meeting - just to say we had a meeting. before calling an official meeting, ask yourself if the work will better be accomplished individually than in a group. I love what Tony Kim says in his blog, "brainstorming is broken"

"...There have been many studies done over decades that conclude the same thing- traditional brainstorming leads to mediocre results. We do it because we are social creatures, driven by guilt, people pleasing, and misconceptions to involve everyone. It ‘feels’ right even though the results are predictable. For example, in the world of inventions, the individual is much more successful than the group. What’s the last invention you can remember accredited to a team versus an individual?"

let's share stories! what's the best or worst meeting you've participated in?


erikson institute

a couple of years ago I had the privilege of working on my master's degree at the erikson institute located in the heart of downtown chicago. i love erikson's vision statement:

"Our vision is that every adult who works with young children or on their behalf will be knowledgeable, aware, skilled, and alive to the possibilities of each child’s life."

what initially drew me to erikson was their commitment to child development from a wholistic approach - they consistently ask the question, "how does a child develop through his family, community, and culture?"

how often do we ask that question as it pertains to a child's spiritual development?


lakewood church


recently i had the opportunity to visit lakewood church in houston, texas.

the time i spent with craig johnson and clayton hurst, and the kids' life team was a highlight of my year! i visited the wednesday night program for kids, and was beyond impressed with the depth of the curriculum, the volunteer commitment and competency, and the organization and strategy of the overall was honestly like nothing i had seen before.


the picture to the right is a picture of the small group time for elementary age kids. the volunteers are trained to lead children in conversation as opposed to following a strict lesson plan. it was amazing to watch the leaders connect with the children on a very deep level.

img_0066the most moving part for me came in the middle of the large group worship time. craig encouraged any kid who needed prayer to walk to the back of the room, find a leader and pray together. it was unbelievable to watch so many kids immediately walk to the back of the room and pray with their leaders. i felt so many emotions as I watched adult men kneel on their knees in order to pray with kids who needed prayer. i often look at this picture and remind myself that this is what the church is supposed to look like!

I think the world of this church and am so grateful for all they are doing to spiritually form children for a lifetime.

what is your security philosophy?

there's a lot of conversation today around security programs for children at church. i love the conversation around the philosophy of implementing security programs. ivy beckwith's book, "postmodern children's ministry" really challenged my thinking about the ways in which security programs often break down community.  after reading her thoughts, i came to my own conclusion that when we offer a safe environment for our children at church - we actually encourage community by engaging our children in a faith experience free from emotional and physical danger.

i'm a volunteer at my own church First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights.  recently, we worked hard to evaluate and implement new security procedures. with the help of the willow creek association, we put together this video series to show our simple journey.


there's nothing fancy about our security - but i'm convinced that our children will have a fresh faith experience because of the secure environment we implemented.

what is your security philosophy?