Fill In The Blank.


Yesterday was my first experience with Willowcreek’s Leadership Summit.

It’s awesome so far. Thanks for asking.

I’ve already heard from Carli Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett Packard), Bill Hybels (founding pastor of Willowcreek and head of the Willowcreek Association), Marcus Buckingham, (author, writer, consultant, business owner, President of the New World Order–just kidding, but he actually was my favorite).

It would take a month of posts just to scratch the surface of what they said, but one thing that helped me was to know that each of them has endured opposition (sometimes very painful) along the journey to success. In fact, it’s unavoidable.

I hate that, but I’m also called to pastor a church—a church that is now a large church. Like it or not, it comes with the territory.

Life’s not fair.

Some of the things that Bill and Carli especially, have endured stagger the mind. People can be so cruel. But I for one am so thankful good leaders don’t quit.

Bill Hybels has taught me some things without even knowing me. If he’d quit. I would lose. We’d all lose.

Thanks Bill, for making me stronger and helping me to rediscover a necessary truth…

I’ve found that in life, leaders are lightning rods for criticism.

And why not, many of us do such stupid, boneheaded things, we shouldn’t be surprised.

But often, it’s unwarranted as well.

You see, people like to play a little game I call, Fill in the blank.

Ooh, I wanna play! I wanna play! Pick me! Pick me!

Calm down. There’s no player limit in this game. In fact, the more the jucier, ah, I mean, merrier. But let me just warn you, you might not want to keep playing once you see that it really isn’t some harmless parlor game.

Here’s how Fill in the Blank goes…

Church Version:

Oh, wait, before I explain that…

There’s also, Fill in the blank — the secular edition and the just released, Fill in the Blank, political spin, limited edition. But for our intents and purposes in this discussion, we’ll stick with the “Church addition.” Besides, it’s the only one I’m familiar with.

I’ve never actually played it, but I’ve definitely been played, ‘by it’ numerous times.

Let me explain.

Churches (unlike secular organizations or political ones) have one extra rule…Try to win without filling in blanks with false conclusions. But that rule is broken in the first 5 minutes of 99.9% of the games played.


Filling in the blanks according to these verses (set of rules), just isn’t as much fun.

But Filling in the Blanks according to this one seems to be a blast for some!

‘But pastor Rob, wouldn’t that just hurt the church and undermine what God is doing?’

Of course Silly, that’s the whole point! But most people try to play the game from beginning to end without having to think about that depressing fact.

Even better, some try to play the game and pretend that false, slanderous blank filler are really good, wholesome, anointed, God approved stocking stuffers.

If you can do that, you get to pass go and collect an extra $200!

‘What happens if you seek God’s truth and only say what edifies and builds up God’s church?

You get labeled a ‘goody 2 shoes’ and branded as, not a team player.

If you’re not careful, you might even get a scarlet ‘g’ for godly stitched to your chest, and then all future ‘gamers’ will avoid you like the plague.

Worse still, you might get a ‘rep’ and have people start referring to you as someone who is, Christ-like.

Can you imagine trying to live with that?

No, no. So remember to try and get stopped at Community Chest or Chance? and hope you get one of the following cards,

  1. A gaggle of gossip (entitles you to one full week of gossip with complete anonymity).
  2. A slew of slander (5 sharp, biting, horrid and untrue tidbits about the church leadership that can be played at any point throughout the game).
  3. A Collection of Cut-downs (Not as fun, but at least you can elevate yourself by putting others down).

Get all 3 and it’s virtually impossible to lose / win.


Or, You might just decide to try this.

Once again, the gamers will hate you, but God will honor you.

Tough choice, huh?