Eric Johnson… (on certain topics)

…on Submission

Be quick to submit. Learn servanthood.

It’s important for you to learn how to serve someone else’s vision that doesn’t match Bethel’s (or wherever you’re used to) — signs and wonders are not the only expression that God is moving. We often come out of Bethel having a narrow view of what it looks like when God is moving. I want a broader view and idea of what it looks like when God’s moving. The big picture is, all streams merge into a river; the problem is when the stream thinks it’s a river.

Get rid of your agenda the moment you leave school. You might “die”—but Joseph had to die, and Daniel had to die… You must learn to serve someone else’s vision. Both Joseph and Daniel served kings who were, by many standards, evil. They had committed mass murder or genocide and/or declared themselves “god,” forcing people to bow down to their image. Yet, God placed these two men in the perfect positions to influence their leaders, and they both carried a heart attitude to serve their kings well and see them prosper.

Sometimes we just need to say, “I don’t agree with that, but I will serve it and I will submit.” We don’t need to agree to submit. Agreement is not a prerequisite of Submission. God commanded us to submit to our leaders (even imperfect ones… for there are no other types of leaders), so that means choosing to pursue honor and relationship over being “right” and doing things “my way.”


…on Leadership & Feedback

In an environment where there’s a lot of trust, there are more diverse leaders (not just “yes” people). You need to value diversity if you want to be the leader God has called you to be. Trust allows people to speak up. And there’s an understanding that disagreement is not an attack on their character. (Trust is established when there is commitment to one another.)

All the members in Abraham Lincoln’s administration were his opponents in the election.

I meet with a leadership coach 1-2 a year. It’s about developing a Culture of Feedback, from top (your leaders), side (your peers), and below (those you lead). It’s not easy, but there’s value in it. Welcome others to speak into your life.

The hardest areas for feedback are the areas I am the most confident in. I need to learn to “re-translate” their feedback into “they are trying to make me better” instead of “they are wrong,” and try not to get very defensive.

“I have friends and people in my life that I’ll call when I need feedback.” Try to surround yourself with the right people. They may not be a ton, just a couple. Their ages should be varied—not all peers. Don’t just call them when you’re in trouble but also when you’re doing well.

If feedback comes without a context and without understanding the dynamics of the circumstances, then it won’t carry as much weight. But if someone knows what they’re talking about, then the smart thing is to just listen and don’t defend yourself.

Even when you feel misunderstood and insecure, just say “Thank you for your feedback. I’m going to go away and think about it.” I won’t act out of my insecurity.

How to Transition to New Leadership Well:

  1. Clarity.
  2. Communication.

Don’t let time and space get in the way of communication, meaning don’t allow lots of time and space go by without communicating. It’s always better to facilitate clarity with good communication, as soon as possible. This helps the transition process.

Also, if you are transitioning into a new leadership position, don’t try to fill anyone else’s shoes. You have to have your own shoes. Sure, there are similarities but you are unique in your own right. (Just as Eric Johnson’s preaching style may be similar to his dad’s, he is also different and doesn’t feel the pressure to fill his dad’s shoes.)

“Stop trying to be the most talented. Just try to be the most available.” Stop trying to be so serious. Just stop trying so much. Enjoy life. Just be available. Take risk. We are more trained than the disciples were—we have more information than they did, and they changed the world. There’s nothing worse than a cranky, upset Christian. Love life to the fullest. Take major risk. The most powerful thing a leader can do is to display a love for living.


From Eric Johnson’s Q&A session at BSSM second year last week

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