Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mama Maggie Gobran Stole The Summit From Steven Furtick

Summit Doodle #1
I didn't think anyone could top yesterday's Global Leadership Summit speakers but someone did. And she did it before she spoke her first word.

At the beginning of the first session this morning we were handed a chunk of a broken clay pot and told to just hang on to it, we'd need it later. I love experiential worship and I've done the writing on the broken clay piece thing before so that was cool.

The first speaker of the morning was supposed to have been Rev. Stephen Sundar from India but he wasn't able to get a visa for the trip. Wess  Stafford from Compassion International filled in for him. I've heard Wess speak at a previous Summit and he has a powerful story and a genuine love for the children he has devoted his life to. His topic was missional, of course, and was a good reminder of how complacent and even lazy some American Christians are compared to those in countries such as Ethiopia where at one time just owning a Bible could cost you your life. One group of Ethiopian  Christians divided up the only Bible they had and each person memorized their section then destroyed the text. When they would gather, they would have a complete Bible among them but it was in the hearts and minds of the people instead of their hands. Some Americans have several Bibles sitting on a shelf that might not even be looked at for weeks.

Wess was followed by Jesus. Yes I meant to say that. I'd never heard of Mama Maggie Gobran before this morning but I will never forget her. Known as the Mother Therese of Cairo and nominated this year for the Nobel Peace Prize, Mama Maggie has devoted her life to helping the poorest of the poor in Cairo's Garbage City through her ministry called Stephen's Children. We were shown a short video clip of some of the work Mama Maggie is doing then she approached the podium to begin speaking. I don't know how long the standing ovation lasted but it was several minutes, during which time Mama Maggie radiated a kind of peace and humility that I've never seen before. She bowed her head then knelt to kiss the ground to ask that God bless it and its people. The woman hadn't yet said a single word and already there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

She spoke barely above a whisper with neither a smile nor a frown on her face. She had an expression of one who has seen unspeakable atrocities as well as unimaginable hope. She was the embodiment of peace. Jesus personified. Her session was 10 hours ago and she's still all that Jayson and I can talk about! And we didn't even see her in person, we were watching via satellite!! Every word that came out of Mama Maggie's mouth was a memorable quote but I'll try to squeeze it down to my favorites.

Memorable quotes from Mama Maggie Gobran:
  • 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.

At this point they really should have just ended The Summit or at least given everyone a half hour to recover. That little 80 pound woman packed a Holy Spirit punch like nothing I've ever seen. Instead, Bill Hybels launched into a classic Willow Creek moment that was specifically crafted for the Holy Spirit to show up but He'd already been there and gone. Seemingly oblivious, Hybels went on to talk about Jeremiah, having a tough calling, and how sometimes to be successful in the eyes of the Lord means to look like a failure in the eyes of the world. Then he smashed a clay pot and we all wrote on our clay pieces and we listened to music and I'm willing to bet the only thing on everyone's mind was still Mama Maggie Gobran.


Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, was interviewed by Jim Mellado about the radical education reforms she instituted during her 3-1/2 years of service there. Rhee fired hundreds of teachers, principals and administrative staff, closed dozens of schools, and pretty much pissed off everyone in Washington, D.C. She implemented new testing procedures, new teacher evaluation processes, and began basing salary and bonuses on student performance rather than just teaching experience. You know what happened after she did all that? Kids started learning stuff. They started testing on grade level. The district's enrollment increased for the first time in 40 years. Teachers were held accountable for their students' performance. Rhee's solution to the problem was radical and unpopular but it was necessary and effective.

Memorable quotes from Michelle Rhee:
  • 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.


Psychologist and author Dr. Henry Cloud was up next and his session focused on how to deal with different types of people when it comes to truth or feedback. He talked about three categories of people (wise, fools, evil) and gave practical suggestions for how to deal with each one. He told a story about how he was confronted with the truth when he hired a trainer to help him get back into shape after gaining weight during a busy season of traveling. She was extremely hard on him but after a time he began to see progress. At one point during a workout he suddenly stopped and said, "Oh no!" When the trainer asked him what was wrong he told her that he was disappointed because he forgot to take a 'before' picture. She said, "Oh no there's still time." That made me laugh :)

Memorable quotes from Dr. Henry Cloud:
  •  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.

I'd never heard of John Dickson before today but I liked what he had to say. It's hard to describe what he does because he does a little bit of everything. In his latest book Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership he investigates the role humility plays in a leader's life. He went over what humility is not (humiliation, low self esteem, hiding your talents) and described five characteristics of what humility is. Humility is common sense, it is beautiful, it is generative, it is persuasive, it is inspiring.

Memorable Quotes from John Dickson:
  • 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.

Summit Doodle #2
I rarely talk about anything controversial or important here but I have to say a couple of things about homosexuality and Starbuck's CEO Howard Schultz's decision to cancel his Summit appearance due to an online petition. You can read the petition and Bill Hybel's response to it for yourself.

What I will say about Schultz is that I'm disappointed in him and it was hard for me to even consider doing what Hybels suggested to show him some good "Christian support". Anyone who knows me knows that I love Starbuck's and will continue to go there any time I have a craving for a $5 cup of coffee. But I will not buy his book because I have lost respect for him. I didn't lose respect for him just because he caved to pressure and cancelled his appearance. I lost it because he didn't take the time to investigate both sides of the conflict himself. Starbuck's officials met with Hybels to discuss the problem but Schultz wasn't there. I don't know if Starbuck's has attempted to have a conversation with the petition organizers but Hybels has and knowing him he will probably continue to do so until they accept :) Schultz stepped back and let his staff do all the dirty work and make his decision for him. That's why I've lost respect.

I guess I should make it clear that even though I consider myself to be a liberal fundamental Christian (I'm not sure what that means either but it seems to fit) I love gay people. Well that just sounded bad, but what I mean is that I'm not a judgmental person by nature. I like everyone equally: sinners, saints, bikers, soccer moms, gay, straight, drug addicts, even Junior Leaguers! Just about the only people I discriminate against are those who abuse children in any way. I think all pedophiles should be shot dead on sight. In those cases yes I am judgmental and very not like Jesus so obviously I've still got some growing to do.

Recently Blake Mycoskie of Tom's Shoes got himself in some hot water by speaking at an event held by the notoriously anti-gay Focus on The Family. You can read Mycoskie's response on his blog. For the record, I do believe that he had no idea that FOTF was so anti-gay because I had no idea until I read about this. If he had known and still chose to be affiliated with them how would I feel? Honestly I have no idea. FOTF could be an excellent vehicle for him to reach more people who need shoes and that's what he's all about. I don't believe that working with them makes him or Tom's Shoes anti-gay but I doubt a lot of people would see it that way. Some people believe you are the company you keep. I don't agree with that because Jesus kept company with thieves, tax-collectors and prostitutes and he was none of those things.

Personally I don't like FOTF, I don't support them and won't have anything to do with them simply because they are much too conservative and exclusive. I see them as modern day Pharisees and that's not who I want to hang with. I am more likely to hang with Hookers for Jesus or Bikers for Christ because they're more real to me.

I think it sucks to be Blake Mycoskie right now and I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, no pun intended. This is tough. I have decided that I will take the money I was going to spend on Howard Schultz's book and will instead buy a pair of Tom's Shoes.

Even though I was looking forward to hearing Howard Schultz, I couldn't be happier with his replacement. Author and business consultant Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite speakers ever. I've heard him speak at other conferences and he never fails to teach me something valuable while making me laugh. Ya gotta love that. Today he spoke from his new book Getting Naked which is about the power of vulnerability and speaking the kind truth to people even when it's extremely uncomfortable. He told several hilarious stories but the one that suck with me was about when he was sitting in at a corporate board meeting and during the meeting a woman did the absolute worst thing she could have possibly done. She farted. But that wasn't what was so bad. The bad part was that everyone in the room heard it and she pretended like it didn't happen and went on with her presentation! She wasn't his client so he couldn't say anything but Patrick said that if he could have consulted with her in that moment, his professional advice to her would have been for her to point at someone at the table and say, "pull my finger". I still laugh just thinking about it. As if that wasn't hilarious enough he went on to talk about how his wife grew up in a house full of girls but now she has a house full of boys and he described what she says after she farts. I sure hope she has as good a sense of humor as he does!

Memorable quotes from Patrick Lencioni:
  • 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.
At this point we took a little break to take up the Summit offering and listen to Willow Creek pedal its wares. I shouldn't criticize, they do a lot of good things for churches and church leaders but they sometimes come off as a little too commercial. During this time Jim Mellado said three tragically overused Christian cliches in one sentence: unpack, start a dialogue and deeper level. Then I threw up a little in my mouth.

Erwin McManus had the unenviable position of wrapping up two amazing days. I have to admit I wasn't expecting much but he hit it out of the park. I've never heard him speak before even though I am familiar with who he is and what he does, especially when it comes to the arts in church. He is a true renaissance man who uses the many gifts God gave him without being all in-your-face about it. It's hard to describe what I mean by that. I've often said that I'd much rather watch a really well done secular movie with Christians in it rather than a really poorly done Christian movie. Most (not all) of the Christian movies I've seen are poorly done and I find myself wishing the people involved had done a really good secular movie instead. That would provide them with a lot more opportunities to talk about their faith and would lend credibility to their God given gifts and talents. IMHO. Anyway, this is what Erwin does.

One of his endeavors that I love is Temple Bags. Watch the little video about how they're made. Some of them are very pricey but when you see how they're made you'll understand why. The one that has caught my eye is the Swiss Bread Bag. I might just have to make it mine. Then go watch this Doritos commercial that was a finalist in the Crash The Superbowl 2010 contest. That was McManus, too. Oh and he accidentally led CNN's Soledad O'Brien to Christ just by telling her about a documentary he was working on.

Not surprisingly, his topic today had to do with creativity, innovation and story telling. He focused on Ecclesiastes 1:9 which says, "there is nothing new under the sun". When he told his wife that he disagreed and he thought Solomon was wrong, she told him he probably shouldn't tell anyone because he was going to hell :)

Memorable quotes from Erwin McManus:
  • 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.

Are you jealous that I was there and you weren't? You should be.  Sign up for next year, I will certainly be there whether or not I'm leading anything or even following anything. I never fail to walk away with not only good stuff for spiritual growth and the obvious leadership stuff, but these things also translate over into your interpersonal relationships, your friendships, your PTA meetings, bible studies, book club, even who you hang out with in your social media circles.

I also need to give a shout out to Tim Schraeder and Paul Steinbrueck who took much better notes than I did. Without their awesome blog posts all you would be reading about here is how cute Seth Godin's yellow glasses are, how Steven Furtick looks like the love child of Hilary Swank and Jim Carrey, and how Dr. Henry Cloud had one button too many open on his shirt and needed a few gold chains and a medallion to complete the look. And nobody needs to read that.

3 comments:

Beloved One said...

I, too, found Mama Maggie to be incredible. Her serenity and humility flowed off the screen and into my heart. I am still reeling from the impact she had (and is still having) upon me. The WCAGLS was a life-changing event and most of it was due to her.

Sher-Q Management Consultants said...

I was figting to hold back my tears througout the time Mama Maggie Gobran was speaking via video at GLS in Vanderbijlpark South Africa. This was a couple of hours ago and I am still speachless.

Shannon Green said...

She packs quite a punch, doesn't she?