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GLS 2017 - Sam Adeyemi - Leading From the Inside Out

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Pastor Sam Adeyemi founded a thriving ministry in the heart of one of the world's largest cities and countries, Lagos, Nigeria. But it hasn't been easy. 50% of the country is majority Muslim. between Christian and Muslim communities in the north. 70% of the country lives below the poverty line. It is from this setting that Sam founded 25,000-member Day Star Christian Center. He felt God impress upon him a vision to teach Biblical principles for discovering and releasing human potential. has since become giving hope, helping people believe that God can change their outcomes. Sam's leadership is marked by a passion for breaking down hierarchical systems, leading counter-culturally and empowering young leaders. Let's welcome back to the Summit Pastor Sam Adeyemi. I am honored to be back at the Global Leadership Summit. This is an incredible gathering of leaders from all over the world. Our church started just like many other churches start, with very limited resources 22 years ago. We started in a restaurant, and we had to change venues within a few months, because we didn't have enough money to pay for the restaurant. And then I observed a problem. We were not attracting the ideal kind of people I saw in the vision God showed me. The people we attracted needed money for taxi after the service, they needed help with their hospital bills, they needed help to pay their rent, and I thought, "No, I think I got the wrong people here." The only thing is that I also needed help with my bills at that time. So I wondered why the rich people were not coming. Many questions go through the mind of people that start organizations like that, especially when things are not working according to your plan yet. Then I realized that in leadership, you don't attract who you want, you attract who you are. The leadership dynamic which Bill describes as moving people from here to there works when there is alignment between the sense of identity of the leader and that of the followers. I'll say that again. The leadership dynamic works when there's alignment between the sense of identity of the leader and that of the followers. Now, this is grounded in research by social scientists and they said that when people in a group say that their leader is charismatic, it's actually more because the leader is a prototype of the ideal member of that group. Several years back, I sat on the flight right next to one of Nigeria's foremost pastors, Enoch Adeboye, and I asked him a question. It was an unusual opportunity, because it's rare for you to be sitting next to him on a flight like that, especially for someone like me. I seized the opportunity to ask him how the church in Nigeria could be more effective in influencing national development. He replied with a question. He asked me, "If a group of robbers had the opportunity to elect a leader, would they elect a policeman?" He had my head spinning for a few minutes. Wow, what kind of a question is that? Then I realized, "Oh, no, if the robbers were to elect a leader, they would elect a more experienced and sophisticated robber than themselves, but not a policeman." So, for the leadership dynamic to work in that scenario, it's either the policeman becomes a robber, or the robbers become policemen. Now, with respect to leadership, the policeman's ability to help the robbers to make the transition from being robbers to becoming policemen is what leadership is about. The ability to help them to become whom they have never been before. There would have to be a change on the inside of those robbers before leadership can happen between that policeman and those robbers. Affecting that internal change in the people you lead is what I call "the miracle of leadership." Now, away from that illustration. Unleashing the potential of followers, especially those that seem less than ideal, is the miracle of leadership. God makes champions out of ordinary people, and we also can make champions out of ordinary people. I've had startup entrepreneurs and pastors of new churches walk up to me and ask, "What do you do when you realize the first set of people you attracted are not your ideal staff members or ideal church members? What do you do?" For the entrepreneurs, they say, "Well, you just hire the person you can afford." The pastors say, "Well, the church members show up, but rather than those millionaires that you saw in your vision, it's people that need money that come to your church." And then they say to me, "I know that the people that I have right now are not my ideal members. I know my ideal members are still coming, but, until they show up, what do I do with these ones that I have?" So I say to them, "Your millionaire members showed up, you did not recognize them. When they show up, this is what they look like. They have needs in their lives." Then I tell them, "The transformation that will happen in their lives is the test of your leadership ability." Several years back, I read a book, titled "You Can Go Up", by Bill and Dee Stringfellow. They wrote about how the barbers and hairstylists of America wanted to create awareness about their work all over America. So they hired a consultant, very brilliant consultant, to help them do the job. It's an old story, so I'm sure some of us may have heard the story before. So this brilliant consultant had an idea that they should hold a convention. So he went to the run-down part of the city and found a young man who had drug problems. He was looking really unkempt, looking dirty, and the consultant promised to pay him some money. Took him from there and had photographers take his shots. They took his photos the way he was, unkempt. Then they gave him a haircut, and then took another round of photos. And then they made him have his bath, and then put him in suits and tie. He was looking every inch like an executive. So they had the convention at an hotel, and on the day the convention started, they had three life-sized frames, photo frames, at the lobby of the hotel. The first frame had the young man the way he was, unkempt. The second one had him after his haircut. The third one had him looking like an executive, in suits and tie. And the young man himself was right there at the lobby of the hotel, shaking peoples' hands and welcoming them to the convention. And they had this bold banner over those three frames, It worked, I mean, it made the headlines. So the manager of the hotel really took to this young man and wanted to help him. So he promised him a job. Told him, "You come on Monday after the convention, I'll give you a job." So on Monday, the hotel manager waited for the young man. He was supposed to come in at 9:00 a.m., he was not there, 10:00 a.m., 11:00, 12:00. When it was time for lunch, the manager didn't go to the restaurant, he asked for them to bring his food to his office. He was waiting for the young man, but the young man never showed up. So he forgot about it. Some months down the line, the manager was walking through the store, and saw the three life-sized photo frames. He just grabbed one of them and ran to the run-down part of the city and began to ask people, "Do you know this guy? Do you know this guy?" Nobody knew the guy. And all of a sudden, it occurred to him, he had the wrong frame. So he ran back and took the first frame, the one he took had the young man in suit. So he went back and took the frame that had the young man the way he was originally. The young man was back to where he was before. real and sustainable change in peoples' lives begins with a change in their sense of identity. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is a new belief about himself or herself. A new belief about who they are, about what they have, and about what they can do. When you let people realize that they are better than they think they are, and that they can do a whole lot more than they think they can do, that is when we really, really bring change to peoples' lives. What we believe is what we become. I watched some time ago a movie, "Queen of Katwe," about a young girl raised in Kampala, Uganda, and this young girl just happened to stumble on this chess club where her brother had been sneaking to. And then they found out that this girl had amazing gifts that helped her to excel with chess, and she began to win competitions. One day, her chess coach was coaching her. She was about to make a move and he said, "Stop! Don't make that move. That will be a mistake." She said, "No." So she disobeyed the coach, made her moves and the coach screamed. He jumped from his seat. You can see eight moves ahead before you make your move. And as he begun to describe what she could accomplish, she went into self-doubt, began to say, "You think that can happen to somebody like me?" And then the coach said something to her. He said, "Sometimes, where you are used to is not where you belong to." He said to her, "What you believe is where you belong." And the people that we lead find themselves in scenarios like that. They are plagued by self-doubt and we need to let them know they may have been used to something in their lives, they may have been used to being low or being poor, but where they are used to is not where they belong. Jesus said in Mark 9:23, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." In leadership, the famous saying holds true, "The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart." Changing how people see themselves is where the hard work is in leadership. Most people are sabotaged by self-limiting beliefs, self-limiting beliefs that are being shaped by their history, their experiences or their social status. Some have experienced war or genocide and we don't realize that for some, being poor has become part of a culture. For example, groups that have experienced slavery or colonization tend to battle with low self-esteem and with a mindset of poverty. Being inferior and being poor has evolved to become a part of their group identity. Such people fight internal battles of identity. There are some in our organizations that just cannot imagine themselves becoming senior managers or CEOs. Many can't imagine themselves becoming entrepreneurs like us. Changing such people from the inside out makes our leadership truly transformational. And I read from Norman Vincent Peale how there was a coach, a college coach, that was training trapeze artists. There was this particular young man that had a problem actually going over a particular bar. So at the point, the young man stopped, looked at the coach and said, "Coach, how do I get over that bar?" The coach said, "Son, you know what? When you get there, throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow it." Okay? Yeah. "The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart." How do you throw the heart of your employee over the barriers that stop them from excelling? How do you throw the heart of a whole team or the heart of a whole organization over a bar? When I think about my country, Nigeria, that's the question I ask myself, "How do you throw the heart of a whole nation over the bar?" I read something in Matthew chapter 13 in the Bible. And Jesus described how to transform peoples' lives by transforming their heart. He said, in the second part of that verse, Matthew 13:15, "Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and I would heal them." Powerful steps there to healing. Jesus said, the first thing is they need to see with their eyes, they need to hear with their ears When they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, something will happen in their hearts. He said, "They will turn." He said, "Then I will heal them." when the change on the inside has happened first. 1 Corinthians 2:9 in the Bible also says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of any man." It's amazing. It's the same combination, the eyes, the ears, and the heart. So I say this: Whatever people see and hear consistently over time will enter their hearts and put their lives on autopilot. I'll say that again. Whatever people see and hear consistently over time will enter their hearts and put their lives on autopilot. Amazing. The advertising industry works on that principle. They know, they just need to put it on billboards, Once it enters your heart, you'll buy it. To change your followers from the inside out, change what they see and hear. Change what they see and hear. So let me give us four steps for applying this. Remember, the shift you wanna create is in their sense of identity. It's in the way they see themselves. It's in what they believe they can do and what they believe that they have. Number one, describe your vision for your organization or your group over and over. There's power in vision. You and those that follow you should have new identities in your vision. Let's say, for example, you're a startup entrepreneur. When you describe your vision to be the leading organization in your industry, you, the visioner, should have a new status in that vision, so the people you lead should be able to see themselves in that vision, see how they become managers, or how to become partners, how to become directors, how to become CEO or COO, how to become sub-division CEOs in that vision. I describe vision as the ability to see people, places and things not just the way they are, but the way they could be. Vision is ability to see people, places and things not just the way they are, but the way they could be. With vision, great leaders recognize the future leaders in their followers, and they begin to call their followers what they see in the vision. It's very important. I heard of a Jewish mother who was walking with her two kids. Someone asked her on the road, "Madam, how old are your boys?" She said, "Oh, the doctor is three and the lawyer is two." That is leadership. She's selling a vision to those kids already. That's how she sees them. It's absolutely important how we describe our employees, how we describe the people that we lead. We've got to call them not who they are now, but who they are in the vision that we see. Your vision is like a mirror where they see their present selves, they see not just their present selves, but their future selves. Build their self-esteem also through your attitude, how you respond to them, how you talk to them, how you treat them. Affect their thinking about themselves. Now, I am sensitive to the culture from which I come. And in that culture, being a leader makes you superior to the people that you lead. So I found out, as our church began to grow, then the culture began to show up. When you have a large number of people, you're a big shot, especially in your church. I remember my first visit to the U.S., it was Houston, Texas, and I spoke at the church on Sunday, first service, and then we had a break. So, as we were about to walk out the door to my pastor friend's office, and he's a Nigerian American, he held me. He said, "Sam, hold on. As we approach that door, they're not gonna do what your church members do in Nigeria. They're not gonna leave that door for you. They will walk out first before you can go. So, we'll have to wait patiently for them to go through, then we go after them." Let me explain that. When you're a big shot, you pastor a large church, in my culture, as you approach that door, people will move out of the way for you. And if they don't move, your minders, your security guys or the protocol guys, will go there and push them out of the way, and tell them, "Move." Yeah, because the big man of God is coming. As our church began to grow big, then I saw that culture evolving. And then I said to the minders, or the protocol guys, "Please, never push anyone because of me. And when you see the big crowd," I said, "Seeing a big crowd makes you to feel that I'm a big guy. That there's something special about me." I said, "It's not that way." I said, "It's not because I am special that they are here. It's because they are special, that's why I am here." I said to them, "If you need to push anybody, push me." It's important. So, it's important how you treat people. There's a way you treat them and they know they are meant to be down there and you are meant to be up here. Twenty years ago, my mentor gave me a challenge. He said to me... Because he says that I was struggling with my self-esteem. He said, "Rather than plan the growth of your church on guest speakers, why don't you become the person people want to listen to?" That's one of the most challenging statements anybody ever made to me. Because he saw that I had the potential, I have the capacity to become like the great speakers that I was inviting. He shifted my thinking about myself. That's what great leaders do - change what people think about themselves. Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese company Alibaba, sold his vision to a group of young people in 1999. He told them their brains were as good as those of the people in Silicon Valley and that their competition were not local Chinese companies but global IT corporations, and eventually he led that team to build a global company. When you have an organization packed with potential CEOs, you can shake your industry and you can shake your world. The second thing: Set up a structured training system. Set up a structured training system. Ask yourself a question, "Is your training system capable of producing the ideal staff or members you see in your vision?" An effective training program will deepen the understanding of your vision, values, strategies and structure. It will help people to find alignment between their own personal visions and values and those of your organization. Training creates consistency in knowledge and skills across the organization. I realized, when I asked myself that question some 20 years ago, the kind of people that we saw in our vision. So we restructured the training. I took the training one hour before Sunday service 30 straight weeks. The result was amazing. It was explosive. Our attendance multiplied ten times in two years. We went from 500 to 5,000 within two short years. The training deepened the commitment of our workforce. In fact, eventually, I created another level of training that teaches our people to start and run organizations of their own. Now, when we call a meeting of our workers and leaders in church, we have about 6,000 people in attendance, just the workers and the leaders. Next, you must model the transformation you are talking about. People try to reach a standard they can see. Those you lead need to see you also transformed. Set high standards for yourself. Paul, the apostle, said, 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." He had a high standard and as he tried to reach it, he asked his people to be like him. And this is very important. As you grow, tell your followers, your employees, your staff, tell them whatever it is they see you do, they also can do it. And finally, reinvent yourself over and over. You can't afford to be the same person they knew two years ago. You "die" at one level to evolve to another. If you are stranded at one level of success, those following you will also be stranded. To become someone you have never been before, you must let go of whom you have been until now. And that requires for you to deal with your insecurity and to let go of your success at your current level. Delegating my pastoral functions, like preaching and conducting weddings, was painful at the point in time, because I love people. I like to be part of their joy. But I had to let them go. Many leaders are stranded at one level of success because their capacity for self-sacrifice and for risk-taking has been blunted by their success. And then, I try to lead the people that I train through their own death and resurrection experiences. Push them into new positions. In fact, I have encouraged some of the people that have served with me to leave altogether and start their own organizations, because I believe they have the capacity to lead their organizations like I do. The result has been phenomenal. In the culture that I come from, many pastors find it difficult to let go of their associates, to start churches, especially in their own cities. And we went against the grain. Train them, release them, when they want to start their churches, we pray for them. In fact, I say to our church members, "If you feel led to go with them, go with them." They're still part of us and we go them, help them to launch those churches. They are growing, we are growing. It's amazing. Some of the fastest growing churches in my city are led by some of these young people, and some of them are right here at this Summit. I close from Acts 4:13. It says, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished. And they took note that these men had been with Jesus." I pray that God will help you and me to turn our organizations into leadership production factories that would produce the leaders that will change our world. I pray that no one will hang around you for one year or longer without transformation in their lives. Finally, let me remind you that even you are far better than you think you are. You have a whole lot more resources than you think you have and you can do a whole lot more than you are doing right now. And I pray that this year, that this GLS Summit, will be that place of reinvention for you. I encourage you to be brave, to embrace and to fulfill the destiny God has for you as a leader. Thank you.

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Posted by: 1lmedia on Sep 6, 2018

GLS 2017 - Sam Adeyemi - Leading From the Inside Out

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