Phyllis Hennecy Hendry serves as the inaugural president and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, a global leadership ministry headquartered in Spartanburg, SC. Under her visionary leadership, the organization has grown exponentially since its founding in 1999, developing and empowering thousands of people throughout the United States and around the world to lead as Jesus led.
Her heart’s greatest desire is to lead individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus, so that their lives will be transformed, and their leadership will have maximum influence. Through the ministry of Lead Like Jesus, Phyllis is helping develop and empower people around the world to adopt Jesus as their leader role model, so that through Him the world will be forever changed. She is the co-author of the recently released Lead Like Jesus Revisited (Thomas Nelson, 2016).
Phyllis resides in Spartanburg, SC and enjoys spending time with her family, walks on the beach, dark chocolate, and intimate conversations about Jesus.
Phyllis Hennecy Hendry is a highly sought speaker, regularly travelling across the U.S. and around the world to deliver the hope-filled, love inspired, story laden, and deeply personal messages. She has shared the stage with well-known orators such as Ken Blanchard, John Ortberg, Rosey Grier, Erwin McManus, Patrick Lencioni, Henry Blackaby and more. She will be a keynote thought leader speaking at The Outcomes Conference, April 17 – 19, 2018 in Dallas.
Who have been your leadership role models? What impact have they had on your personal leadership journey?
My parents were tremendous leader role models for me. They were relationship builders who led by example. When my father planted a church in an inner city neighborhood, he and I would visit on Saturday mornings and invite people to come to the new church. One older gentleman, Mr. Lunn, said that we were welcome to visit anytime, but he was never going to come to our church because he didn’t “do” church. I was ready to leave since Mr. Lunn said, “no,” but my dad heard an invitation, so Dad and I visited Mr. Lunn weekly for over a year. Once Mr. Lunn was not at home when we came to visit, and we learned that he had been taken to the hospital. We went immediately. Once he came home, my dad and I would visit and help him around his home. After many months, one Sunday morning, Mr. Lunn came to church. At the end of the service, Mr. Lunn walked forward. He told everyone that he wanted Jesus in his life, so he could be like “Preacher Joe.”
A key to having “impact” is developing great leaders to complete the mission.
My parents taught me that love is a core value for anyone who follows Jesus. Love for the mission, love for people and love for the impact you can make. For them, love was wrapped with commitment to do whatever it takes to move people from where they are to where God would have them go. This commitment is so strong that it embraces tough conversations covered in love and grace. Commitment included doing the work. My parents valued doing good work. I was taught that everything I did was to be done with an attitude of doing it for God, so raking the leaves and setting the table were classified as “good work.” Lastly, my parents led by example. They built lives of integrity with a handshake. Their words and their actions matched.
Years later, Paul Simon, an older business leader mentored me. Mr. Simon intentionally studied my work, how I worked, and he came to know my heart. He seemed to think I was more capable than I thought I was, so he pushed me to do new things and his confidence in me stretched me to achieve what he thought I could. I have come to believe that is a very Jesus-like trait – to help people see who they really are and what they can do and help them achieve it – so that when they arrive at achievement they don’t forget who they are.
What is Lead Like Jesus focused on these days? Can you discuss the global reach of your work, and the hunger you’re seeing for leadership growth?
In the United States, we are focused on faith-based or faith-led organizations who want “leading like Jesus” to be their core DNA. In every church, faith-based nonprofit, or university, there is a standard of operational excellence that must be achieved to be successful in accomplishing an organization’s vision, which is why Christian Leadership Alliance is critical to the impact of our mission. As disciples of Jesus, we are in a transformational process that forms us be more like Jesus and what’s formed within us will determine our behaviors. Dallas Willard said, “The transformation of our character will not happen by our will; it has to be integrated with learning and training. If you try to love your enemy, you can’t do it by trying. You have to train, so love flows out of who you have become.” Our focus is helping organizations develop leaders who will build community, change their culture and complete the mission God has given them to do.
Leading like Jesus requires leaders who are intimately connected to the Father and surrendered to him as Jesus modeled for us.
Internationally, we have found an incredible impact opportunity in training church planters. Training them to lead like Jesus and start churches with this teaching foundation has been a catalyst for entire villages and communities to come to know Jesus and be discipled. In many villages, as a church is planted, the Lead Like Jesus student program, Ignite, is taught in Christian and public schools. We are currently working in 17 countries and in each there is tremendous hunger for training and for Jesus.
Jesus is Lord and Savior. What are some of the things we can learn by observing him as a leadership model?
My key learning comes from Jesus himself. Jesus said that he could not do anything on his own. I am doggedly determined and consistently persistent; without Jesus’ example, I can push things through with my own strength at least for a while. Jesus continues to teach me that though I have responsibility to do all I can do, I must wait on the Father and only do what he is doing.
What would the world look like if Christian leaders were truly leading like Jesus?
If we want the world to look different, we must be different. Our picture of a leader leading like Jesus might surprise some. Maybe you think a leader must be a CEO of an organization, or tall or naturally charming. Certainly, some leaders have those characteristics, but our picture of a leader also includes the frail-looking woman who has taught Sunday School for 30 years; the person who coaches a community ball team, and the person who comes to work on time every day and elevates the room because of who they are and the excellent work they do. If we lead like Jesus moment to moment, even in the hardest places of our lives, the world will see Jesus and be drawn to him.
If a leader wants to start leading more like Jesus today, what would you recommend as a good first step?
Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the one true God, and Jesus Christ who you have sent.” In Scripture, the word “know” is experiential knowledge. Our relationship with God through Jesus is always interactive. The place to start leading like Jesus is to get to know him – experience him as you wake up and thank him for a new day, for your family, for good work to do. Be intentional about making space to grow your relationship with him as you study Scripture, talk to him and rest in him. Leading like Jesus requires leaders who are intimately connected to the Father and surrendered to him as Jesus modeled for us. Remembering that Jesus is not only the model we are to follow, but that Jesus himself is the source to become more like the model.
The theme of this edition is “Impact.” How would you encourage other Christian nonprofit leaders in growing their organization’s impact in today’s world?
A key to having “impact” is developing great leaders to complete the mission. I am strongly convinced that as Christian nonprofits, we must live and lead aligned to the example of Jesus and be excellent in all the ways critical to complete our mission. If we do both, there will be impact not only for our mission, but for the kingdom of God.