Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Are Your Leaders Practicing Fanatic Discipline and Productive Paranoia?

GLS 8.15.12

(Photo by Flickr user Natural Step Online)

by Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy

What do mega church pastors like John Ortberg (Menlo Park Presbyterian), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church), and Craig Groeschel (LifeChurch.tv) have in common with leadership experts like  Jim Collins (author of "Good to Great"), William Ury (author of "Getting to Yes"), Geoffrey Canada (author of "Waiting for Superman"), and Gary Haugen (president of the International Justice Mission)? 

Each has a relentless commitment to creating highly effective, powerful organizations that transform our world. 


Last week, each of these leaders served as faculty presenters at the annual Global Leadership Summit hosted by the Willow Creek Association. More than 65,000 leaders, representing 6,000 churches from across the country, experienced the summit, either in person at the Willow Creek Church in South Barrington, Ill., or through satellite feeds to hundreds of churches across the nation.

As a partner with Willow Creek Church for this event, Bread for the World sent several staff members, including me. Here are a few of the nuggets of wisdom I took away from this leadership gathering.

Jim Collins, an expert in human potential, shared that top leaders from churches, businesses and nonprofits all over the world need to place big creative bets to make huge impacts. But there are necessary practices in this enterprise.

  1. Fanatical Discipline: No matter what the conditions, do not leave yourself too tired or exhausted to lead. Focus on the “20 mile march” a methodical daily approach that can turn good intentions into great results. 
  2. Empirical Creativity: First use test “bullets” to try ideas. When those are successful, fire cannonballs.
  3. Productive Paranoia: Find out which buffers will allow you to work even when times are tough?

Bill Hybels, senior pastor at Willow Creek Church, emphasized that a leader’s first priority is to energize the culture where he or she leads—through new initiatives and increased capacity. He challenged each of us to identify and then write on an index card the six areas of work we will focus on in the next six weeks. This “six-by-six” leadership style motivates all of the top leaders at Willow Creek Church.

Whether leading a church and bringing people to Christ or functioning within a faith-based nonprofit to end hunger in God’s world, taking time out to learn with other leaders brings new ideas, dynamism, and vitality to the transformative work within our missions and ministries.

Krisanne-vaillancourt-murphyKrisanne Vaillancourt Murphy leads national evangelical church relations at Bread for the World.


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