As you will see from the picture in my blog this week, I got to cross off one of my bucket list items. That’s right; I got my picture taken with the Chick-fil-A cow. That may not be a big deal to most people, but considering how much chicken I have eaten in their restaurants over the years, I deserve some kind of life time achievement award. For now, I will just have to settle for my picture with the cow.
Our paths crossed this week at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast event. The Leadercast is a nationwide simulcast of John Maxwell’s day of leadership training that he and other prominent teachers lead each year. I had gone to this event a couple of times in the past and was really excited to be able to attend at the location sponsored by my friend Angela Piperburg at the Enterprise Center at Burlington Community College. What a great location and what an impactful day it was. Several other CLC folks attended with me and we hosted a book table with resources from the various speakers.
The keynote speaker, Andy Stanley (pastor, speaker and leadership expert), was particularly helpful in bringing clarity to the day’s theme – SIMPLY LEAD. He told the story of starting his church in Atlanta and putting three critical questions on a three by five card. He used those questions to simplify everything he did. He has kept that card with him and looks at it regularly. During these past seventeen years his church has grown extraordinarily with thousands attending every weekend. His organization may be far more complex today than at the beginning of his ministry, but his mission and vision are crystal clear. He challenged each of us to do the same and I am taking a leap of faith and going to that in the rest of this blog post. So here it goes:
Question #1: What is it that you do? (this is meant to clarify what your organization does, not you personally). As I thought about this question I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude to my grandfather and others of his generation who started CLC. Of all the things they could have done to advance God’s kingdom, they picked one thing. For over seventy years CLC has made evangelical Christian Books, Bibles and other resources available to the nations. There were other men in that generation, who held crusades, started Bible translation ministries and harnessed the power of the media to spread the gospel. While Ken Adams was a good speaker, loved technology and certainly wanted to see the Bible translated, he chose a different path. The simplicity of Christian literature distribution to the nations was a big calling and one that defines us to this day. What a blessing to know what you are supposed to be doing each and every day.
Question #2: Why are you doing it? There are many reasons that we do what we do, but the two most important reasons were enshrined in our mission statement – so that people may come to faith and maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ. The dual purposes of seeing people come to a saving faith and then growing as Christians is why we do what we do. The Christian literature is simply a tool that God has given us and a powerful one. Over the years, these two things have motivated generations of people to serve in this ministry as they witnessed the power of the gospel impacting people’s lives one book at a time. If C.T. Studd wanted to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell, he was going to need a supply tent. CLC has been that supply tent for countless ministries and churches that are pushing back the darkness in their corner of the world.
Question #3: Where Do I Fit In? Another way of phrasing that question was, “What is my unique contribution and core responsibility?” He encouraged each of us to develop a one sentence job description for ourselves and our direct reports. I will be working on that in the days to come, but have to say that this was critical question for me. As the National Director for CLC USA, I have a complex and challenging job. It is easy to let one aspect of the job dominate the others even when it is not my core responsibility. As I have thought about it, my core responsibility and unique contribution is to be the Chief Inspiration Officer of our organization – the CIO rather than the CEO. I have the privilege and joy of communicating what we do and why we do it over and over again in a thousand different ways to many different audiences. My goal is to motivate our team to achieve our goals, to dream bigger dreams and to have fun doing it.
Taking a day out of my normal routine to meet the cow, eat lots of chicken and hear many motivating leaders was well worth the time. I would encourage every leader at any level to make the time to attend one of these events in the future and commit to significant personal growth and development. It will make you a better leader and a better person. If you are serious about this, the event takes place again next May 9th – put it on your calendar now. You will be glad you did.