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Memorable Quotes from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2011

global_leadershipLast Thursday & Friday a group of CHRI staff had the opportunity to attend Willow Creek's Annual Leadership Summit.  A 2 day, jam-packed, conference put on by Willow Creek Church in Illinois.  The conference is definitely worth attending no matter what your leadership or spiritual position is.  They do a great job of challenging you wherever you are in your life and provide a balance of Jesus, business & combining the two.


The speakers always include a variety of church leaders, businessmen, authors, educators, non-profit pioneers, and celebrities. Some past speakers are Terri Kelly of Gore-Tex, Jack Welch of GE, Christine Caine of A21, pastor Harvey CareyPatrick Lencioni of the Table Group, authors Chip and Dan Heath.


The 2 days were a whirlwind of learning & stretching my brain.  I'm still processing all that was said & we haven't even done a group break-down yet!  I've compiled my favourite quotes from the 2 days in the hopes of giving you an overview of what we witnessed & to show you the quality of leadership that speaks at the conference.


Memorable quotes from Bill Hybels, the Founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church:

  • Say what I told you to say. Don't make me come down there. --God
  • When the leader stops learning, the leader should stop leading.
  • An organization's future is tied to its ability to attract and sustain good leaders.
  • If you don’t deal with challenging people in your organization, you discourage and demotivate your best people.
  • Churches are in the life transformation business. 

Memorable quotes from Dr. Henry Cloud, Psychologist and Author :

  • I read one of my own stupid books...
  • A wise person changes when faced with the truth. He adjusts himself to match the truth.
  • Talk to a wise person. Coach him. Give him feedback. Resource him.
  • When you shine a light on a fool, they adjust the light. They try to dim it, to adjust the truth.
  • Do not confront or correct a fool, lest you incite insults upon yourself. Stop talking. Limit your exposure to the problem and protect your vision.
  • Fools change when the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.
  • Evil people have destruction in their heart and they want to inflict pain. Have nothing to do with them. 

Memorable quotes from Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey:

  • You are the result of a grand conspiracy of love. Now what will you do?
  • What you see in the world is less about circumstances but how you see them.
  • The world you see outside of you will always be a reflection of what you have inside of you.
  • Before you tell me what you teach and preach, show me how you live and give.
  • Who you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear a word you say. 

Memorable quotes from  Seth Godin, Author:

  • We're seeing the death of the industrial age. Is this the end of the job? There's something after the job--the artist.
  • You have a chance in this post-industrial age to do things differently.
  • It is impossible to do art and always succeed.
  • If failure is not an option, neither is success.
  • Every revolution destroys what was there before, then it creates something new.
  • Too many people are walking around holding on to something while it rots.
  • Make art. Give gifts. Lead. Make a difference. 

Memorable quotes from Erwin McManus, Filmmaker and Author:

  • We have an oppressive worldview that tells us there is nothing new under the sun.
  • God is entirely the God of the new.
  • We are God’s instruments to create the future.
  • Evil people don’t wait for permission from God to create the future they have in mind. But good people sit idly by waiting for God to create a better world.
  • We need to become the cultivators of human potential.
  • There has never been an ordinary human being ever born yet most of us die painfully and tragically ordinary.
  • If we do something extraordinary and beautiful the world will ask us what fuels our motivation.
  • Be the narrators of the human story. Whoever tells the best story shapes the culture.
  • We’ve taken on a false narrative in the Church that we were terrible, chose to follow God, and now everything is perfect until we die. We are afraid to tell who we really are. We need to be honest about the fact that we still struggle with the evil inside us.
  • Sometimes the truth is lost in a bad story and the false is perpetuated through a good story.
  • It’s not that hard to bring people to Jesus when you tell them a story they find themselves in. 

Memorable quotes from Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools:

  • We focused on human capital: talent.
  • I would much rather deal with anger than with apathy.
  • Change is an essential part of leadership. Incremental change isn’t an option when drastic change is necessary.
  • As an elected official, if you turn your head to the people who are yelling the loudest you’ll be turning your back to the children because they don’t vote.
  • There is no national organization that is lobbying for the children.
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. 

Memorable quotes from  Mama Maggie Gobran, Founder & CEO, Stephen's Children; Nobel Peace Prize Nominee:

  • True love is to give and forgive. Give until it hurts. Forgiveness is not between you and another. Forgiveness is between you and God. God holds our accounts.
  • When you die to yourself you discover the beauty and power within yourself.
  • When one has nothing God becomes everything.
  • When I touch a poor child I touch Jesus Christ.
  • When I listen to a poor child I’m listening to God’s heart beating for all humanity.
  • We build a church in the heart of every child we reach in a country where it’s not always possible to build a church.
  • To be in silence is to be fully inside your own self.
  • The silence is the secret – the first step – to finding treasure.
  • Silence your body to listen to your words.
  • Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts.
  • Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating.
  • Silence your heart to listen to your spirit.
  • Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit.
  • In silence you leave many and be with the One. 

Memorable quotes from  Dr. Reginald Bibby, Sociology Professor, University of Lethbridge:

  • People are not looking for a church, they are looking for good ministry. Meeting needs, not building structure.
  • 50% of unchurched Canadians would be open to greater involvement if they perceived it to be worthwhile.
  • There has not been much of a decrease in organized religion since 1985.
  • If Canadians ARE receptive, there is great opportunity, and we have great responsibility.
  • How do/can we reconcile theological diff between Catholocism & protestantism to reach out in greater ways?
  • Denominational barriers need to drop. There are still walls that need to be removed.
  • Those who value Christian faith must be working together which includes Catholic and Evangelicals coming together.

Memorable quotes from  Tim Schroeder, National Pastor, The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada:

  • It happened on my watch, I am responsible. No more!
  • You cannot live off of someone else's call! They can be an inspiration but they can never be a substitute!
  • Start looking for leaders that have a fresh call from God.
  • God uses those willing to engage.
  • Take the time to process your call. What is God whispering to you?
  • It is about meeting people's needs not putting bums in seats.

Memorable Quotes from  John Dickson, Director, Centre for Public Christianity:

  • Humility is the noble choice to forgo your status and use your influence for the good of others before yourself.
  • Humility is to hold your power in the service of others.
  • Humility will not make you great just as greatness will not make you humble. Humility makes the great greater.
  • Expertise in one area counts for very little in another. What we don't know and can't do far exceeds what we do know and can do.
  • To preach well to my church I have to listen to the wisdom sitting in the pews.
  • It wasn’t Jesus' teaching but his crucifixion that changed the way people thought about humility and greatness. Humility became connected to greatness at the cross.
  • Humility generates new knowledge and abilities. The humble place is the place of growth.
  • The most believable person in the world is the one you know has your best interest at heart.
  • The real power of effective leadership is maximizing other people’s potential. 

Memorable quotes from Patrick Lencioni. Author and Business Consultant :

  • One of the ways we manifest humility is by being vulnerable.
  • Vulnerability requires transparency, openness, sacrifice and selflessness.
  • Vulnerability runs counter to the dominant value in our culture – to avoid suffering at any cost. It’s counter-cultural.
  • There are 3 main fears of vulnerability: losing the business (client, ministry, friendship, etc.), being embarrassed, being inferior.
  • It takes courage to enter into the danger with people and tell them the kind truth.
  • Editing yourself to manage your own image doesn't inspire trust.
  • The best leaders are the ones who are open about their shortcomings.
  • When we acknowledge our humanity it’s attractive, people want to be around us.
  • Be more interested in the other person than they are interested in you. 

Memorable quotes from Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor, Elevation Church:

  • How are we going to get from inspiration to implementation?
  • If all you have is good ideas it doesn't make you a visionary. It makes you a day dreamer. The difference is having the audacity and courage to act.
  • One of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.
  • We can’t expect God to show up in our work unless we do our work God’s way.
  • If you will do what you can do, God will do what only he can do.
  • We can position ourselves, learn and get training. But only God can make it rain.
  • Faith doesn't wait around for water, it digs a ditch. If you will dig the ditches, God will send the rain. 

I am so happy I was able to attend the conference.  Not only did I walk away with material for spiritual growth and to strength my leadership style but everything I learned bubbles over into my personal relationships as well.  The 2 days are a grooming for anyone (& I  mean anyone) who wants to lead a team, a church, a family or for leading & living a Godly life.  Spread the word.  The Leadership Summit will be back next year!


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