5 Pastors Share: The Resources That Shaped Me

Bobby Gruenewald: “I asked some strong leaders for recommendations about the ways they find insight and inspiration.”

Without the influence of resources, Life.Church would be dramatically different.

Since our beginning, we’ve devoured resources from other leaders and pastors we admire. Our Senior Pastor, Craig Groeschel, has described the tremendous benefit of being “mentored from afar” by leadership giants like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren long before he ever had the privilege of meeting them.

That’s one of the reasons we felt so strongly about releasing our resources for free to other churches at the website Open.Church. Since other churches’ resources guided and shaped us, we wanted to offer anything we could that might help another church. And the decision to share those resources has, in turn, formed connections and relationships that have fundamentally changed us as a church.

As a staff, we frequently trade book recommendations during our meetings, and new team members take part in discussions about books like StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Lead Like Jesus.

Personally, reading Now Discover Your Strengths during my early time on the team was a formative experience. Once I understood my strengths (Competition, Activator, Futuristic, Achiever, Ideation), it really helped me see where I could bring value and the places where I should stop wasting energy. It shaped who I am as a leader and helped give my role more clarity when I realized we’re each gifted in certain ways to bring a unique contribution to our world.

Lately, I’m really enjoying audio books during my drive time. I like to use that opportunity to gain different perspectives, so one of the books I listened to this year was In Praise of Slowness, which I listened to at 1.5X speed.

Hearing how others are growing and learning is a great way for me to get ideas, so I asked some strong leaders I know for recommendations about the ways they are finding leadership insight and inspiration (beyond the Bible, of course).

From Outreach Magazine  4 Keys for Churches to Make a Good First Impression

Geoff Tunnicliffe
Global Media Strategist, Chair of Christian Media Corporation and International Ambassador for YouVersion

What resource changed how you lead? Transformational Leadership (TransformLead.com) combines relational skills and business models built on a high trust culture. True transformation is a process that begins with a compelling vision that is born in the heart and draws others to collaborate because they share the same vision in their hearts.

What have you read, watched or listened to in the last year that inspired you? This year I found myself in the middle of the University Student protests in South Africa and saw first hand how a small group of committed, social media savvy students launched a nationwide movement of transformation.

How do you continue to introduce yourself to new perspectives? Listening to TED talks on topics that seem to have nothing to do with my daily work but discovering the interconnectedness of all of life.

What’s your favorite unconventional source of leadership inspiration? I have read daily Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer and have found fresh insights into my leadership. For example, learning what it means to lead from a God-given overflowing cup.

What book do you wish you had read long before you actually did? I didn’t read The Shack until seven years after it came out. I wished I had read it when it first was released.

Andy Wood
Lead Pastor, South Bay Church in San Jose, California

What resource changed how you lead? The Audible app has helped me listen to more books while I’m in transit. Also, I’ve found Periscope to be a great resource for short leadership teachings.

From Outreach Magazine  10 Reasons Your Church Should Live Stream Its Services

What have you read, watched, or listened to in the last year that inspired you? I’ve spent time reading books and watching TED talks about brain development. I have a son who has some learning challenges so I have been learning this year how we take in information and how our thinking has the potential to rewire our brain. This has inspired me to teach and lead differently.

How do you continue to introduce yourself to new perspectives? I like to talk to people who are really good at what they do but do something entirely different than me professionally. I will ask them lots of questions. I try to keep a curiosity about people, situations and life. This fuels new ways of thinking.

What’s your favorite unconventional source of leadership inspiration? My kids. I try to think of life from their perspective. This helps me think more simply, in a good way. Also I like to think of problems and opportunities as sources of leadership learning.

What book do you wish you had read long before you actually did? A Failure of Nerve by Edwin H. Friedman, which totally changed the way I see leadership.

Herbert Cooper
Senior Pastor, People’s Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

What resource changed how you lead? 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. I was in my early twenties and I went to a John Maxwell conference. At that conference I bought the book and resources and became a Maximum Impact member where I received a leadership tape monthly from John. This changed my life and leadership.