#GLS15 Overall Reflections

I’ve had a few days to reflect on the GLS and in the spirit of our youth ministry debrief technique, I offer the highs, lows and weirds.

Highs: So many highlights from the Summit this year. For pure practical leadership and management application, I would rate this the best Summit I’ve been to.

  • Kudos for the video testimonies. Seeing how the Gospel informs business practices and national politics was incredible. Angola, NatureSweet, Duarte, Walgreens, Idi Amin’s son…..all incredible.
  • Surely the Satellite Location Experience is directly linked to the host church’s ability to be hospitable. By that criteria, Crossroads Church knocked it out of the park for us.  Amazing hospitality and great hosting between sessions.
  • The overwhelming majority of speakers brought a combination of passion, clarity and good delivery. Our team came away with copious notes that are implementable.
  • Bill Hybels is aging like fine wine, in my opinion. I always look forward to his annual talk, because he is usually very open about what he is currently learning. Great session on the intangibles of leadership. Bill is smart to openly share his own blindspots and mistakes.
  • Bill is a great example of faithful leadership over a long period of time.
  • I am loath to pick a favorite speaker. It is so subjective, based on expectation, what I had for lunch and who I’ve heard before.  So many of the sessions were excellent.
  • Ok fine. Brene Brown was my favorite. Her ability to be brave, tell a well crafted story seemingly off the cuff and get to the heart of the matter is mind blowing.
  • But wait, what about Horst, Sam, Sheila, Brian, Ed and Liz? All very strong. Jim Collins was his usual strong and is at an unfair disadvantage because he always brings it 🙂
  • Bill Hybels is a living example of his own convictions.  Every Summit, he clearly presents the gospel, knowing unchurched people are there.  He disarms them by letting them know ahead of time what will come, but then he always brings a clear message of the good news of Jesus.  This year was another brilliant presentation of what its all about.
  • While I’m sharing the Hybels love, he is a great example of how to ask for money.  Clear, succinct and concrete in his request, but not a lick of emotionalism.  A good model for us all.

Lows: sorry to pick on a guy, but Adam Grant, what were you thinking?  

  • Most of the benefit of this session for me was in the form of a bad example, as in, “Lord, have mercy, may I never do this to an audience!”
  • Get a voice coach to teach you to modulate.
  • Don’t sting your audience unless you’re intentionally trying to create a combative environment.  You kept leading us down a path only to tell us off when we arrived.
  • Did you contradict your main point or was I just lost?  Givers, takers, matchers.  Was it givers or matchers who end up contributing the most to an organization?   You seemed to suggest both, but by the end, you’d messed with your audience so much, I doubt many of us cared.  Perhaps this was some sort of social experiment?

Weirds: Overall a great conference. Willow Creek brings serious A game after 20+ years.  Still, a couple of weird moments.

  • I think it is time for Bill to hand the interviewing to someone else. Rarely can a primary presenter become an interviewer. I believe a good interviewer must shrink herself/himself to stay out of the spotlight. Bill creates an unnecessary adversarial relationship with his guest. He did this with both Ed Catmul “well, all I know is someone made BILLIONS of dollars” and then again with a very vulnerable Brian Houston. This guy lived through the nightmare of dealing with his father’s worst-case-scenario sin. No need to push him around before the interview.
  • Bill could do to ease back on the selling of a moment.  Let the moment bring its own power rather than telling us in depth how powerful it is going to be.
  • Craig Groeschel brought a talk I first heard him deliver in 2007.  Why bring an 8 year old talk to a leadership summit?  Why yell it at us the whole time?  I think he may have given this talk too many times because his humor was too canned – he could see it coming and we could see he could see it.  Craig is a first class leader worth learning from.  I’d love to hear what he’s learning in the last few years.  This talk was full of good content, no doubt, but I couldn’t tell if I was in an old tent revival, complete with generalizations and guilt inducers, a leadership talk, or a pile driver convention.  Wasn’t a “low” as we all need the reminders, but it was a weird moment for me.

Thanks Willow Creek and GLS.  You guys brought an incredible experience and I’m grateful for the many take aways.

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