Introducing John Ortberg

Laura Ortberg Turner Laura Ortberg Turner is a writer, speaker, and employee of Fuller Seminary. She lives in Palo Alto with her husband and writes at

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”—Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak

John OrtbergWhen I was growing up, my favorite days were Donut Run days. Every once in a while, my dad would rouse us out of bed early in the morning with little direction–just to come downstairs quickly, to get in the car; yes, we could stay in our pajamas, yes, we could go back to bed, but only if we wanted to miss something great. We would groan in feigned exhaustion, but we knew we were in for something special. And it wasn’t just the chocolate long johns or the pink-frosted numbers, but the goodness of being with someone in our pajama-clad, bed-headed smallness. Someone who had other, important things to do but chose to be with us.

When someone has shown you tenderness of heart and great care, you will do anything for that person. You will remember their sacrifice. You will be shaped by their generosity of spirit. There is a certain tenderness of soul that a good leader must have, a way of understanding the people and dynamics around them that builds trust.

The best leaders I have ever come across aren’t the flashiest or the most well-known. They are kind and generous in spirit. They are thoughtful, humble, and committed to sharing the truth in love. They care for the hearts of the people around them.

I am especially lucky that, for me, my father has been chief among those who have cared for my heart.

As I grew up, Donut Runs morphed into lunches and long drives, conversations about career and the future, and a new kind of friendship. Our relationship has gone this way not because my dad has continued to lead me (which, now that I am an adult, is exactly what he shouldn’t be doing), but because he has shown me how to lead myself.

Love yourself, encourage yourself, and hold yourself to high standards, he has told us.

Sometimes we still go get donuts together on Saturday mornings at our local Krispy Kreme. And there are moments when, sitting across the table from each other, I can hardly believe my gratitude at the example of this imperfect, kindhearted, vulnerable person. It has been said that people will walk through fire for a vulnerable leader, and it is true. But we will also walk through life with them. Love yourself, encourage yourself, hold yourself to high standards. Learn from those who love fiercely and sacrificially. And then, go and do likewise.

Hear from John this August at The Global Leadership Summit and watch for his new title, releasing soon, Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus

Proud of our faculty!

Every year we work to bring the best and brightest in leadership thought leaders and practitioners – check out these headlines about our past faculty members from recent weeks and months:

Mama Maggie prayer
Mama Maggie (2011) was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 2012

Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker rescued a neighbor from a burning building

Good African Coffee founder Andrew Rugasira (2009) launched an online store

Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson (2008) passed away

Gary Haugen (2008) and International Justice Mission received $8 million grant from Google in the fight against slavery

Richard Curtis (2007) wrote 2011’s blockbuster War Horse

Tennessee Volunteer Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt (2004) retired

And check out all these new releases:

Seth Godin (2011): We Are All Weird

Wess Stafford (2009, 2011): Just a Minute

Craig Groeschel (2008, 2009, 2010): Soul Detox

Patrick Lencioni (2003, 2006, 2009): The Advantage (along with accompanying app)

Marcus Buckingham (2004, 2007): Stand Out

Jim Collins (1997, 2003, 2006, 2010): Great by Choice

Wayne Cordeiro (1999, 2006): Sifted

Watch for more new books in coming months from Erwin McManus (2003, 2011), Christine Caine (2010), Steven Furtick (2011) and John Ortberg (1997, 2001, 2002, 2007)

Leading From Both Kingdoms

Bob HampBob Hamp is a pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, he’s also a speaker and author of several titles, including Think Differently Live Differently. Visit his site, and follow him on Twitter.

One of the greatest challenges faced by all believers is understanding and operating in the Kingdom of God while simultaneously living our earthly existence. This challenge is multiplied when we begin to engage the issues of organizing and leading from the place of dual citizenship.

Christianity is a belief system based on a worldview that most westerners do not naturally embrace. The entire Biblical narrative clearly unfolds against the backdrop of a visible, natural world and an invisible, supernatural world.

We see this interaction in the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6:15-18. Elisha’s servant reports to the CEO that they are entirely surrounded by enemy armies. With a Jedi hand swipe, the servant’s eyes are opened to the greater, invisible reality, and he realizes that a larger angelic army surrounds the human army he sees.

An organizational or leadership decision, based on the first view of the battlefield, might be completely contrary to a decision based on the second view. As a result, to be an effective spiritual leader we must learn to lead in both realms simultaneously.

Secular leadership models can be helpful as long as we know when they do and do not apply to the context of Kingdom leadership. A leader who has developed their expertise in the natural realm only will not be able to recognize, much less operate in, the spiritual realm. Here are some of the dynamics that are critical to effective spiritual leadership:

  • The Presence of God: Throughout the history of Israel, it became clear that if God was with them they could not be defeated— regardless of logic or odds. No city or army could withstand a human army that followed God’s Presence. As a leader, Moses learned the simple, yet crucial prayer: “If you will not go with me, I will not go.” Similarly, no spiritual leader today should ever consider an initiative, no matter how logical or statistically sound, until they know that God is with them.
  • Prayer: Prayer is the tool by which we remain connected to the presence of God, and it is the primary strategy of any spiritual leader. Lead people to their knees. Be the first to listen for the Voice of God. Without meaningful conversation with God, it is impossible to lead in the Spiritual world. It would be like trying to lead people through the jungle while wearing a blindfold.
  • Fasting: We should never forget fasting, the powerful cousin to prayer. The denial of our flesh, though never pleasant, is designed to make us more sensitive to the Spirit. However, a leader who only leads in the physical realm does not recognize the wisdom and power in fasting. In John 3:10, Jesus emphasized the importance of spiritual leaders knowing the difference between Spirit and flesh.
  • Spiritual Warfare: Not all opposition faced by leaders and organizations can be handled through simple, rational problem solving. In fact, Paul lets us know that flesh and blood is never the real opposition we face. Without being spooky, we must recognize that if we operate in both realms, we will also face opposition in both realms.

I am convinced that it is possible to make decisions that are effective in one realm, yet destructive in another. To be truly effective spiritual leaders we must learn to lead with a foot in both kingdoms.

Can you think of a time when your best understanding of God’s direction didn’t make sense at first, yet produced surprising results?

Lead Differently

Mark Miller is a business leader, best-selling author and communicator. Mark began his Chick-fil-A career in 1977 and today serves as the Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness. In addition to bringing us the world’s best chicken sandwiches, Mark is also passionate about helping church leaders. You can read more from Mark at his blog Great Leaders Serve and follow him on Twitter at @LeadersServe

Lead Differently ManifestoI’m excited that Change This has published my first manifesto entitled, Lead Differently. If you’re not familiar with Change This, their mission is to support and spread great ideas. They’ve published work by Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Chris Anderson to name only a few of the authors they’ve featured in the past. I’m thankful they chose to share my ideas with the world!

My manifesto is a FREE 18 page downloadable PDF in which I summarize the key principles from The Secret, The Secret of Teams, and Great Leaders Grow. I hope it will help you Lead Differently!

Take some time to read Mark’s manifesto and let us know how you’re planning to lead differently.

Thoughts from Craig Groeschel

Groeschel, Soul DetoxCraig Groeschel is Senior Pastor at, a multi-campus church known for innovation and creative technology. He’s also the author of several books. You can follow him on Twitter and enjoy this preview of Soul Detox, Craig’s newest title releasing next week.

Soul Detox

I was raised in a house filled with smoke. Both my parents smoked, and I was never bothered by the smell. I found it strangely comforting because it was what made home smell like home. While the health risks of smoking were well known, it was a few years before the American Medical Association came out with its findings on the dangers of secondhand smoke, especially for children. No one’s parents were trying to poison their family and cause health problems. Nonetheless, they unknowingly put all the people they loved—including themselves—at risk.

It seems funny to me now in a sad, ironic kind of way. Parents lovingly warned their children: “Look both ways before you cross the street.” “Put on your coat so you don’t catch a cold.” “Wash your hands so you don’t get sick.” “Don’t get in the water until thirty minutes after you’ve eaten.” (I still don’t get that one.) Though they did everything within their power to keep us safe, many parents were unknowingly poisoning their kids with secondhand smoke.

For the first eighteen years of my life, I lived in a cloud of secondhand smoke. I didn’t blame my parents; they didn’t know secondhand smoke is practically as dangerous as inhaling it firsthand. But their ignorance didn’t change the reality of the situation.
I’m convinced many of us are living in this same kind of dangerous trap with our spiritual health. We know something doesn’t feel quite right, that we’re not growing closer to God and following Christ the way we would like, but we can’t put our finger on it. Even though we believe in God and want to please Him, we find it hard to serve him passionately and consistently. We want to move forward spiritually but we feel like we’re running against the wind. We want more—we know there’s more—but we just can’t seem to find it.

Why do so many well-meaning Christians take one spiritual step forward, then slide back two? Why do we long for more of God in our lives and yet feel farther and farther away from him? What’s holding us back from growing in this relationship that we claim is our main priority?

While many factors go into answering these questions, ultimately I believe our spiritual enemy blinds us with a smoke screen of poisonous distractions. Just like I lived unaware of the smoke in my home, many people aren’t fully aware of the forces stunting their spiritual growth. Without realizing the impact of their faith, people embrace harmful relationships, consume toxic media, live with addictive habits, and remain oblivious to the long-term effects. We think the way we live is perfectly fine, normal, harmless, or even positive. Some people don’t want to take an honest look at the way they live, claiming, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Many who inhaled secondhand smoke—not to mention all the millions of smokers—have suffered permanent and painful physical effects. The truth is this. What many people don’t know is not just hurting them but killing them spiritually.

Everything we allow into our minds, hearts, and lives—everything we spend our time and money on—has an impact on how we grow, or don’t grow, spiritually. As the old computer adage reminds us: garbage in, garbage out. Just as we are what we eat physically, we are also what we consume spiritually. If we don’t monitor and adjust our diet accordingly, our souls are in danger of absorbing more and more lethal poison.

The Bible consistently reminds us to check our spiritual diet for toxins. Proverbs 25:26 says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.” How muddy is your water right now? Is your well polluted by all the cultural toxins seeping in? Or does your spiritual well draw on Living Water as its pure, thirst-quenching source? Maybe you’re a Christian—you’ve been made righteous by Christ—yet you’ve become a muddied spring or a polluted well, and you don’t even know it.

You might believe, “My thoughts don’t matter. As long as they stay tucked away inside my head, they’re not hurting anyone. We all think about things that we’d never do, right?” All the while your negative thoughts are silently poisoning your soul, pouring lies into your spiritual water supply. Unfortunately, our thoughts don’t just stay in our head, disconnected from our words and our actions. Unhealthy thoughts often lead to unhealthy words. Without even knowing it, you might be talking yourself, and others, out of God’s best.

If you’re tired of the stain of sinful habits discoloring your life, if you long to breathe the fresh, clean, life-giving air of God’s holiness, if you would love to detoxify your soul from guilt, fear, regret, and all the impurities that pollute your relationship with God, it’s time to come clean.

Examine the various pollutants that often corrupt your spiritual desire to know and serve God. Some can be avoided as you become more discerning and remove them from your surroundings. Deep down, you know there’s truer way to live, a deeper, purer way to love, and a larger impact to make on the world around you. Open your eyes, your heart, and your mind to the cleansing power of God’s truth.

His Word is filled with stories of men and women who needed to come clean, who longed for more. One of my favorites is David, who’s described as “a man after God’s own heart” but, as you may know, was far from perfect. Shortly after he committed adultery and murder, David experienced a soul sickness that affected him on every level—physical, emotional, and spiritual. He knew his sins of lust, entitlement, and deception were killing his heart. He knew the only way to be restored and experience a joyful, fulfilling life again was to come clean before God. In his prayer of repentance, he wrote:

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

–Psalm 51: 2,7,10,12

Wouldn’t you like to come clean? To feel your Father’s love wash over you like the cool, crystal waters of a spring-fed stream? To leave the smoke-filled room where you’ve been hiding and come into his life-giving light? To breathe in fresh spiritual air?

It’s not too late.

Adapted from Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel, founding and senior pastor of Soul Detox, published by Zondervan, releases May 1, 2012.

A voice for the voiceless

Pranitha TimothyPranitha Timothy is changing history. The International Justice Mission’s (IJM) director of “After Care” in Chennai, India has the courage to lead teams into life-threatening situations and the perseverance to free victims of modern-day slavery—no matter what the cost. Visit the IJM site to to stay up-to-date on their work in India.

“There are 27 million slaves in our world today,” she says. Even though a brain tumor left her with what she calls a “strange” voice, she is proud to be a voice for the voiceless—including the millions who toil under burden of harsh manual labor. Working in bondage to Brahmin slave masters, millions struggle from dawn to dark in places like rock quarries and brick mills, even though bonded labor was made illegal in India more than 30 years ago.

IJM is on a mission to free slaves and restore them to a life of dignity and wholeness.
In April, 2011, government officials, IJM staff, and police entered a brick kiln to liberate laborers held by force. They estimated it would amount to 200 people. They were wrong. More than 500 workers assembled to hear freedom was at hand. Facing the throngs of slaves, Pranitha Timothy shouted, “Who wants to come out?” Hundreds of hands shot up.

The owner of the brick kiln was arrested and four trucks were arranged to transport the laborers to a nearby school where their releases could be processed. Four trucks weren’t enough, so a truck belonging to the former slave master was confiscated.

More than 500 men, women, and children are now living in freedom thanks to the largest anti-slavery operation in IJM’s history.

Read the full story in this article in the Times of India.

Does Pranitha’s story touch your heart? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (use the hash tag #wcagls). Sign up for the Summit to hear Pranitha speak in August.

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curiosity + conversation + action = change

In the spirit of keeping the conversation going, we want to share Blake Mycoskie’s 2010 GLS interview. Here he talks about the heart of Toms and challenges each of us to a more giving lifestyle. Shortly after this video was made Toms announced they surpassed the 1,000,000 mark. All from one guy’s idea to get shoes on the feet of kids around the world.

Blake reminded us of the simplicity of Toms and One Day Without Shoes. The beauty is that it doesn’t cost anything to take your shoes off but the difference it will make in countless lives is truly transformative. By sparking conversations in 50 countries, on 500 campuses, in offices of all types and on countless street corners action will be inspired and change will happen.

Enjoy Blake’s story and let us know how you might take steps to live a more giving life.

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April Webcast: Charles Jenkins

In case you missed this month’s webcast, or in case you need to watch it again, we’re glad to post it here for you. In this webcast, Charles Jenkins, senior pastor at the historic Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, talks with Jim Mellado about thriving in change. You can read more on the topic in Pastor Jenkins’ book Thriving in Change.

Here are a few of our notes. We’d love to see your favorite quotes in the comments below or on Twitter (use the hash tag #wcawebcast to see the whole stream).

    “There is applied change and basic change – basic change is just change for change’s sake. Applied change is change with a needed necessary end result.”
    “I knew I needed to start at the concept…what’s the destination? I couldn’t get people there if the destination wasn’t clear.”
    “Honor people with one-on-one conversations. It’s critical to help resistant people process the changes. The goal with early adopters is to create advocates, but with the resisters your goal is to help them find neutrality.”
    “When it comes to change, often leaders make change to problems only they see. You’ve got to make everybody see the problem so they know why the change is necessary.”
    “For a senior leader, it’s like Shakespeare. Play your part and then exit the stage. For a successor, be comfortable in your own skin – David can’t wear Saul’s armor.”

More on Marc Kielburger

One Million Children Helping Children
Marc KielburgerAt the age of 12, Marc Kielburger’s brother, Craig, read about a 12-year-old boy who was murdered while working as an enslaved laborer in a carpet factory. The boy, a Pakistani, had been a child laborer since the age of four.

Craig began researching child labor and wrote a school paper on the topic, which inspired the founding of “Twelve-Twelve-Year-Olds,” made up of his school friends. The group eventually became “Free the Children,” an international organization that has built 500 schools in Latin America, Africa, and Asia—schools that provide education to more than 50,000 children. Working with more than one million kids each year, Free the Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education.

Craig’s brother, Marc Kielburger, 35, is chief executive director of the organization. Together the brothers founded Me to We, an organization committed to the cause of ethical living by providing socially responsible lifestyle products. Marc, director of Me to We has co-authored the New York Times bestseller Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World, The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care And Contribute, and a syndicated column carried by The Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, and Huffington Post. The World Economic Forum selected Marc as one of the 250 Young Global Leaders.

Watch this clip of Steven Colbet interviewing Marc (at 3 min 45 sec). Sign your team up for the Summit to hear more from Marc!

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On Landing Planes

Blaine Hogan is a creative director at Willow Creek Community Church and author of Untitled. Visit his blog, and follow him on twitter @BlaineHogan.

Plane LandingThe thing about big projects is they tend to be less like one, giant to-do list, and more like landing planes—lots of planes. Jet liners. Twin prop Cessnas. Helicopters. They just keep coming. With large projects there are always things flying through the air that you must carefully get on the ground.

Some planes need to be coordinated one at time, and others come at you all at once.
Some come down nice and easy, and others have turbulent landings.

The thing about landing planes is that you never really feel “finished” in the same way you do after checking everything off your to-do list, because you know that there is always another plane on the horizon.

Airports don’t shut down and neither do big projects. The planes just keep coming.

In my area of ministry, big projects look like Christmas programs and Easter programs, and Anniversary programs, creative videos, and…well, you get the idea. Once we’ve settled on content, there are auditions. After auditions, there’s wardrobe. Once the wardrobe is finished, everyone needs to be walked through their paces. Once we’re on set, everyone needs to be directed. And then once we start shooting, there are dozens and dozens of changes that must be made to bring it all together.

Plane after plane after plane.

For a long time I felt defeated by the onslaught of planes. It seemed like nothing was ever really getting done. If by some off chance I was beginning to feel like I could breathe again, or like we were actually getting somewhere, inevitably another problem would occur. And then I thought,

This is the creative process. Stop complaining! It’s messy! It’s rarely mappable! It is always dynamic and ever-changing!

Obviously you make plans, but factors outside of your control change all the time. Locations fall through. People don’t deliver. Life happens. So instead of holding my breath until “things are done,” I’m starting to breathe while I’m “doing the things.”

I do my stretches and I turn into an air traffic controller. And I do it with joy and excitement because, I get to land planes!

As Seth Godin says, we should be grateful we get to solve interesting problems.

Landing planes means we’re not on the sideline of ideation but we’re executing, which means we’re getting closer to making our visions come to life.

It will always be hard, but it should also be fun.

Whether your planes are Christmas programs, weekend messages, team building, or strategic planning for a ministry year, know this: Every landed plane deserves some kind of celebration. Even if it’s just a high five, you absolutely must celebrate along the way.

One last thought on landing planes.
As you put those puppies on the ground, know that you have a choice.
Landing planes can be exhausting and defeating, OR it can be exciting and hopeful.

Each new plane coming your way can feel like it’s driving you deeper into the ground of despair as you cry out, “No, not another one!”


You can see these planes as yet another amazing chance for you to be better, to grow, to try, and to get you one step closer to making your dream a reality.

Breathe. Do your stretches. Don’t freak out. Land those planes. Celebrate each one that hits the tarmac.
Then repeat, repeat, repeat.