The Connection Question

“How did I do?”


Did I connect?”

Which question do you more commonly ask yourself after you speak, teach, lead a meeting, talk to your staff? 

A good leader is always evaluating… always seeking feedback to improve.

But those two questions above nuance a distinction that is critical in our motives for seeking feedback.

The first question is about you.

The second question is about them.

Just this past Sunday, I was hosting the services at one of our campuses.  This was the first time I hosted at this campus and I was very attentive to my “performance” (I use quotes because I don’t love that word but it’s accurate for the context).  My first reaction was to get feedback on how I “did”.  Did I do okay?  Did I say all the right things?  Did I cover the correct content?

For the first few moments the stream of thought was all about me and how I performed.

And then… conviction.   My questions were all wrong.  Yes, I needed to evaluate my performance but my evaluation needed to be about how I impacted those I was communicating with.  Did I connect with them?  Did they feel heard and understood?  Did they receive good information?  Were they inspired?  Did I help them see a glimpse of Jesus today?

Is the connection question your first thought when evaluating yourself as a communicator? 

Originally posted on

Screen-shot-2013-03-25-at-4.50.10-PM-150x1502About Jenni Catron: a Founder of Cultivate Her. She loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Your Summit Check List

We are only weeks away from the Summit.  It is time to start preparing you, your team and your church. Here are a few ways how:

Join The Conversation:
Chime into the conversation happening on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to use the official hashtag #GLS14!

Check Your E-mail:
There are going to be a few important messages sent out to those attending the Summit in the next few weeks, including your ticket! Be sure to check your e-mail for important updates and exclusive offerings.

Take Pictures:
Thousands of teams will be gathering around the country for The Global Leadership Summit. Show us your Summit experience and what you are doing to get ready for the Summit! Upload your pictures to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag @wcagls

Ask Questions:
Want a Summit speaker to answer one of your questions? Send us your questions using #GLS14Q and see if your questions gets answered!

Download the App:
The Summit App is a tool for U.S. attendees to view the schedule, learn about speakers, purchase resources, register for 2015 and more. (Available on iOS and Android)

Prepare your team:
The Summit is for serious-minded leaders who want to get better. By attending the Summit, you will benefit in these ways:

Equipped – By attending the Summit you will be equipped with world-class leadership lessons, insights, new tools and practical next steps that can be applied to lead better wherever God has called you.
Inspired – The Summit is not just an event to gather “facts” or a bunch of content. It is an event that engages not only your mind, but also your heart. We all need to be inspired to keep going, pushing past the challenges we face and to be encouraged…the Summit does just that.
Challenged – For many leaders the Summit is the most leadership-infusing experience they have each year. When you attend the Summit you will be challenged to lead better and when you get better as a leader, everyone that you influence wins.

And most importantly, pray with us. Over 190,000 are expected to experience the Summit 2014. Pray for Kingdom impact and for the amazing things God will do!

I Believe People Want to Change

At The Global Leadership Summit 2013, our team asked people to send in questions for the Summit speakers. We had a great response as questions rolled in through Twitter. Now its time to reveal the answers…and they are worth watching.

Watch and learn from Joseph Grenny as he answers your questions: I believe people want to change, but how do I get them to commit?

Do you have any questions for the 2014 Summit faculty? Send us your questions through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #GLS14Q for the chance to have one of the Summit faculty answer it at Summit 2014.

3:00 A.M.

Pyramid23:00 AM.  RIGA, LATIVA.
I’m laying awake in my hotel room. Can’t sleep. As the director responsible for the success of the shoot, I lay thinking through the production details of our shoot the next day on a rooftop terrace overlooking Old Town Riga. We have a complex script for Bill to deliver in a short amount of time – in a freezing cold environment. I pray that between now and then, God would fill him with the perfect words to speak.

Our team has set-up on the rooftop of the Gutenberg Hotel. It’s an international crew with myself and our cinematographer having flown in from the US. A sound man who just caught a flight in from Stockholm. And an amazing local location fixer from here in Latvia named Rihards.

I’m waiting downstairs curbside for Bill to arrive. He’s coming from the Baltic Church Conference 20 minutes away. The streets in Old Town are beautiful. Everything feels a bit like a classic spy thriller – all the fur and sounds of heels clicking down narrow streets. Though it may be cold, there is an elegant beauty to the cobblestone streets and Baltic architecture.

Bill’s car arrives. He steps out with a smile and says “Jesse – I’ve got an idea!” “I prayed you would,” I responded. What happened next was completely different that anyone one had scripted, but as we discovered over the next 3 months of editing – the words that were spoken were exactly what was needed.

Two flights and as many customs searches later. Our team and equipment has migrated south to the warm Balkan Peninsula. We’re here to capture the story of the re-birth of the Christian church since the fall of communism in 1992.

Doni and Mark are the GLS coordinators for Albania and will be our hosts for the next 3 days. I love these guys. Funny. Warm.  Compassionate.

Doni has taken us to meet Ali Kurti. Ali is the President of the Evangelical Brotherhood in Albania, a former Regional Governor, and someone who has seem the full scope of the experience of the Church over the past 50 years. Today he devotes his life to developing the next generation of the church leaders in Albania. “This is the great hope of my life.”

On the drive back to Tirana, Mark and Doni mentioned that there is a pyramid in downtown Tirana. A moment to the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. Perviously covered with marble, it has since been painted with graffiti and is climbed by adventurous young people.  Now THAT sounds like something worth filming.

We call ahead to a young leader named Elgi, and ask him to meet us at the pyramid. Its sunset when we arrive. Our crew immediately pulls out our camera rig with a fancy motion-stabilizer which will allows us to run up the side of the pyramid, following Elgi running up at full speed, capturing a completely smooth shot.

I am afraid of heights. The sides of the pyramid are quite steep.  If you slip you will roll 5 stories all the way down to the bottom with nothing to break your fall but the ground below.

Over the next 30 minutes, the footage we captured was some of the best in our lives – in a very technical and physically challenging environment.

These are just a few of the great stories you can expect to experience via film at this years Global Leadership Summit.

247014_10151622031255491_346853131_n-150x150Jesse Oxford is Creative Director / Principal at J. Oxford Studios a Chicago-based Creative Agency dedicated exclusively to partnering with organizations that are working to do GOOD.

The Church is Not Forgotten in Cuba

The Church is Not Forgotten in Cuba


Earlier in 2014, Willow Creek Association was granted permission to work with local Cuban church leaders to present the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in Havana on June 20-21. The impact of the GLS was immediate and powerful. One pastor said, “I have been a pas­tor in Cuba for 30 years. And this is the first time I have received any training. I’m sure this is true of everybody here.”

 It is the vision of the Cuban GLS team to take the GLS to other cities in Cuba beginning with Santa Clara and Santiago. It is their desire to have GLS sites throughout the island, building up, inspiring, and equipping Cuban church leaders to change their country for Christ.

As we left Cuba, one pastor pulled us aside with a message he wanted us to bring home. “When you get home, please tell everyone how grateful we are that you did not forget the Church in Cuba. Sometimes we feel very alone here; completely forgotten. But you have shown us that you are thinking about us; that you remember us. Please tell everyone how thankful we are.”

Continue to remember the Church in Cuba, continue to pray for church leaders that the seeds planted at the GLS will bear much fruit and be a catalyst for change in this island nation.

Tell us your story! We are continually inspired by the lives of leaders like you who take on the challenges they see in their societies, and lead in the transformation of their communities. We would love to hear your individual story about how you came into leadership, your dream for your community or your country, what you have learned along your journey, and how the GLS has equipped or inspired you. Tell us about you, and we will share each other’s stories in this email to encourage one another. Send your stories to

Meet a Leader – Albert from Zimbabwe

UnknownAlbert Muvanga joined the GLS team, lead by Harold Chilowa, Pastor of Renewal Fel­­lowship Church, and came to the Summit in Chicago for the first time in 2013. The im­­pact that the GLS had on Albert’s life was huge, and he’s never looked back. As a part of the GLS team, he wants to reach even more leaders in Zimbabwe, and allow leaders like him to have access to the training, inspiration, and encouragement that he’s re­­ceived to lead his organization to the next level. He desires to bring the Kingdom of God more into his community.

Albert leads an organization called Smile For Africa, caring for orphans and widows in Zimbabwe. Because of the inspiration that he received at the GLS last year, Smile For Africa and Renewal Fellowship Church partnered with the Donodzo School in the rural area of Chegutu, Zimbabwe. This school aims to care for and educate 325 children—60% are orphans, 20% have lost either their father or mother, and 20% come from abu­­sive backgrounds.

In the picture, you can see the semicircle structure where all the children go when it’s raining. They didn’t have any bathrooms, toilets, or administrative rooms for volunteers or teachers. Because of the partnership formed at the GLS, children’s lives are being impacted. Smile for Africa donated three tents and the youth group from Renewal Fel­­lowship donated two toilets. The goal is eventually to build proper structures for class­­rooms, offices, and a sports field. Because of the challenge Albert and his colleagues received at the GLS, the lives of these students will be touched, cared for, and changed for the better.

2014 Summit Faculty Video Intros

Watch and learn more about the 2014 Summit faculty in these short video intros:

Susan Cain: Watch Video

Wilfredo De Jesus: Watch Video

Carly Fiorina: Watch Video

Don Flow: Watch Video

Erica Ariel Fox: Watch Video

Louie Giglio: Watch Video

Joseph Grenny: Watch Video

Jeffrey Immelt: Watch Video

Allen Catherine Kagina: Watch Video

Patrick Lencioni: Watch Video

Bryan Lorritts: Watch Video

Ivan Satyavrata: Watch Video

The Problem With Balance

I was walking across campus last week right after speaking in chapel when one of the deans asked, “How do you balance ministry and family, especially with all of your travel?”

It’s a question I’ve been asked enough over the years that it warrants me offering a more extended answer than the one I gave to the dean during our quick journey to lunch.

It would be foolish for me to not acknowledge the obvious- the jury is still out on how good of a job I am doing with all of the plates I’ve got spinning.  The answer I give today at forty could be quite different when I’m sixty.

To begin with, balance is way overrated.  Can I be frank with you?  I hate the word balance.  Nowhere in the Bible are we called to be balanced in how we handle life.  If my goal is to be balanced in all things, I will be radical in no thing.  The call to follow Jesus is the call to a life of radical sacrifice, not balance.

Balanced is lukewarm.

Balanced is a jack of all trades a master of none.

Balanced is nominal.

Balanced is cultural Christianity.

Balanced is unappealing.

I want to be radical.

In the garden, God gave Adam a mission before a mate.  Adam was called by God to cultivate the garden.  Clear on his calling, God now assigns to Adam what he calls a helper in Eve.  Eve was not just someone whom he could share bodies and converse with, but Eve was also someone who was called to walk with Adam in his vocation (Vocation comes from the Latin for calling).  Theirs was a holistic partnership in every dimension.

I view my labors as a preacher and pastor as a calling.  I am called to preach the gospel.  It’s not about money.  It’s not about notoriety.  It’s not about getting on and off airplanes or leveraging a platform.  I am called to this.  If there’s one thing I’ve been sure of since the age of seventeen, Bryan Loritts is called to preach.

Nothing frustrates a marriage faster than when a husband feels like he has an opponent rather than a helper.  Now hear me, I’m not painting the picture of some docile, yes woman molded after the fashion of the first proposed wife in Coming to America (“Whatever you like”), but if there’s two things you must be clear on it is: 1) What has God called you to do; 2) Who has he assigned to be your helper (not employee)?

Korie is my helper.  As Adam and Eve walked in vocational oneness as they cultivated the garden daily, so Korie and I labor in ministry together.  While I preach she prays.  Whatever growth I am experiencing in holiness, it’s been because of the grace of God, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and his assistant- Korie!  So however God uses me, it’s not just me, but it’s we.  For all the souls who have come to know Christ, joined Fellowship Memphis, turned from their sins, it’s not just how God has used me, it’s how he’s used Korie and I together.

The writer of Proverbs says that a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before kings.  I’ve found this to be true in my own life.  God has opened doors for me to proclaim the gospel around the world.  Common sense and simple discernment dictates that I not say yes to every or even most things, but I do know that I’m called to many of those invitations.  I’m not called to be at the dinner table every night.  But I am called to be the father of Quentin, Myles and Jaden.  I’m not called to make them the center of my world, but I am called to make God the center of my world, affections and labors.  Which means that I won’t be at every soccer game, school program or spelling bee.

If I feel a little bit of judgment from you after this last paragraph it’s because I’m writing to a culture, especially a Christian culture, who is guilty of the idolatry of family.  I think the desire to be present is not only good, but is necessary.  However, if in your estimation a good parent is at every event, and makes their kids the center of their world, you are setting your children up for a colossal failure.  Continue down this road and you will not launch arrows into the world, but boomerangs- kids who leave the house, and then return because they realized that in the world they are not the center, but at home they are.  So why not return to the one place where they were sold a bill of goods?  Could it be that our “failure to launch” culture was built on the pipe dreams of well meaning parents who replaced God with little Johnny?

Again, I don’t want you to misunderstand me, I can’t lead anyone I don’t spend time with, and I am called to be the husband of Korie and the father to  my children.  Korie and I enjoy weekly dates together, along with trips away, just the two of us.   I am at most of Jaden’s basketball games.  Myles and I have logged hundreds of hours on the golf course together where in between shots we talk about everything from Harry Potter to his dreams.  I’ve stood and watched Quentin take off at a cross country meet, only to make a dash for it to the other side of the course so I can see him finish (why not make the starting and finishing line the same place).  When I stand in the presence of God I will have to give an account for how I stewarded the lives of these four people I am called to lead.

But I also have been entrusted with the gospel, and to by vocation, that is calling, steward it to the people at Fellowship Memphis, and for this season the people of other states and countries.  I feel the tension of wanting to be out at a restaurant on a Saturday night with my wife, but I have to spend time getting ready to preach at Fellowship the next morning.  I am perplexed because on the one hand I want to see Jaden hit another jump shot, but God has called me to preach the good news to a gathering of pastors.  I’d love to say yes to that once in a lifetime preaching opportunity, but Korie and I have agreed to block that week off for some needed rest and family time.

I don’t know how to be balanced.  I don’t want to be balanced.

I want to radically follow Jesus.

I want to radically love my wife.

I want to radically love my children.

originally posted at

2014_Faculty_Bryan_LorittsBryan Loritts is the founder and lead pastor at Fellowship Memphis. He was named among the top thirty emerging Christian leaders in the U.S. by Outreach Magazine and is passionate about multi-ethnic ministry, mistering in an evolving urban context, In addition to pursuing his Ph. D. at Oxford Graduate School, he is the author of four books includingRight Color/Wrong Culture (2014), serves on the Board of Trustees for Biola University and Memphis Leadership Foundation, and is adjunct professor at Crichton CollegeWith a unique ability to communicate the deep truths of Scripture to a postmodern culture, he speaks to thousands annually at churches, conferences, retreats and through his weekly radio program. | @bclorrits on Twitter

Misguided Selflessness

Being a leader is a lonely job. There is no doubt about that. Anyone running an organization – a corporation, a department within that corporation, a school, a church, a battalion or a local business – must accept the fact that the role they have is often a difficult, sacrificial and solitary one.

But that doesn’t mean it should be thankless or unfulfilling. Or for that matter, always lonely. When humble, well-intentioned leaders convince themselves that they are supposed to be completely without needs, they create big problems for themselves and their organizations. Let me explain.

Even the most mature, humble and unselfish leaders are inevitably going to find themselves in a position of need from time to time. What I’m talking about are genuine feelings of disappointment, frustration, under-appreciation, burn-out.

Most really good leaders, believing they are doing the right thing, tend to deal with these feelings on their own. Maybe they have a spouse who is good at listening, or perhaps they have a reliable executive coach.

Other good leaders do what my high school football coaches used to tell us when we were tired or a little injured: “suck it up.” Essentially, they ignore their feelings, reminding themselves that their job is a difficult one and that they should be tougher.

But neither of these strategies is completely sustainable. Eventually, even the toughest, most emotionally durable leaders must address the legitimate feelings they have with the people who are most directly involved with the issues that are causing those feelings. Because when they don’t, they inevitably put themselves in a position to harm their organizations.

When human beings allow genuine feelings to ferment without resolution, they eventually, and often unconsciously, let those feelings leak out in one unproductive, unresolvable way or another. In most cases, they end up behaving in ways that are slightly passive aggressive, autocratic or unnecessarily critical of team members. I know this because I’ve done it a few more times than I care to admit.

Team members, who don’t know what is going through their leader’s mind, can’t possibly understand where this is coming from, and so they’re left to either acquiesce to the sudden autocracy, or to resist the leader’s arguments and criticism. Essentially, they are blind to the real issues at play, which leaves them incapable of responding in a productive or useful way.

The only way for leaders to address this kind of situation effectively is to openly admit to their team that they feel frustrated, or disappointed, or over-burdened, or under-appreciated. Then they’re going to have to let their team members digest that information, and begin the messy process of working through those issues with honesty and humility.

Most good leaders who are reading this are probably thinking, “The last thing I want to do is tell my direct reports that my feelings are hurt.” They’ll be afraid to come across as weak, or even worse, needy. As noble as that may seem, in reality it is a subtle form of pride and invulnerability. Leaders are just as human as the people they lead yet they often refuse counsel from their team. Worse yet, it deprives staff members of the information they need to figure out what actions they can take to alleviate those feelings.

The truth is, when humble leaders acknowledge their humanity, even when that humanity is not necessarily pretty, they are giving their people a chance to understand what is really going on in their leaders’ hearts and minds, and allowing them in that moment to be the stronger party in the relationship. Not only will that allow them to address whatever issues need to be resolved, but it will make the team stronger and more resilient going forward.

For those of you who are parents, I’ve added an additional commentary here about how this same principle applies to the job of leading children and families. Let’s take the fictional example of a father with two teenage boys named Matthew and Connor Lenci- the last name isn’t important. After all, this is fiction.

As the night comes to an end, the fictional father reminds his sons that one of their few chores – putting the garbage cans out for trash day – has yet to be done. The next morning, the garbage cans are still nowhere to be seen, because neither of the boys fulfilled their responsibility. Worse yet, when reminded, they shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal.

Okay, this is a moment of truth. The fictional dad will usually do one of two things – neither of which is terribly effective. Sometimes he will simply go and put the garbage cans out on his own, convincing himself that his sons are busy and that he’s a selfless dad. Other times, he’ll loudly admonish his sons to “get their butts outside before the garbage truck comes and mom has to call the garbage company to have a special trip made which will cost the family money that will come out of their allowances..!”

Neither of these options is usually the best approach. Though sometimes a good parent/leader needs to pick up the slack for a busy child/employee, and sometimes he has to get a little upset and demand action, there is another way that usually works better, but is rarely used.

As a parent, the best thing I can do for my boys, my family and myself, is to sit down with my sons when the situation is not red-hot, and let them know that I feel a little disappointed, disrespected or underappreciated by them. Without passive aggressiveness or stinging guilt, I simply need to ask them to see the situation from my point of view, and invite them to imagine what it is like to be me. In most cases, even with teenagers, the response is one of genuine empathy, understanding and contrition, usually leading to a change of behavior.

But this requires that I, as a leader, set aside my authority for a moment and become a vulnerable human being. Without being pathetic or weepy, I need to be honest about my feelings as a person and treat my sons with the level of trust and responsibility that I believe they can handle. This will give them the information they need to make the decisions that will bring about the best possible outcome for everyone.

The only way for me to do this, however, is to avoid the pride-filled temptations to be a lonely martyr or an indignant tyrant. Ultimately, neither of these provides my sons with the information or perspective they need to become the people they need to be. My vulnerability in acknowledging that I have feelings, rather than being an agent of selfishness or neediness, is actually a gift to them.

And it will probably get the trash out on time too.

originally posted here

patrickPatrick Lencioni is the author of ten business books with more than three million copies sold, including The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.  He is the President of The Table Group, a leading organizational consulting firm, which dvises clients with ideas, products and services to improve teamwork, clarity and employee effectiveness. He was named as one of The Gurus You Should Know, Fortune Magazine and America’s Most Sought-After Business Speakers, The Wall Street Journal. Patrick continues to be one of the Summit’s most requested speakers.