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Top 5 Things I Learned from Brian McAuliffe | Mike Gold
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Top 5 Things I Learned from Brian McAuliffe

For those of you who are just tuning into my blog, This category is one that I have dedicated to the men and women who have played a significant roll as mentors in my life. Brian McAuliffe is the CFO of Willow Creek Community church. He is one of the most energetic, humble, passionate and supportive leaders I have ever met. And I will always consider him to be a mentor,  a dear friend and a partner in what we both consider to be the most important movement on planet Earth, God’s Church.  Here are the top five things I learned from Brian.

1. An Unstoppable “can-do” spirit…

If there is a 1 percent chance that something can happen, Brian will turn it into a 90 percent probability. I learned from Brian that when it comes to leadership, attitude makes all the difference in the world. I witnessed Brian attack problems head on. When he is leading an initiative you get positive sense that you will succeed in accomplishing the goal you set out to achieve.

2. When Pigs Fly…

If you ever get a chance to visit Willow Creek Community Church and you have the pleasure of meeting with Brian in his office…Look for the cast metal Pig with wings that he has placed proudly on display on a shelf across from his desk. Brian may have an unstoppable “can do” spirit but he is no people pleaser. Brian is an amazingly authentic person. I have personally witnessed Brian tactfully but passionately communicate a sure we “can-do” statement followed by a “but we won’t” or “when pigs fly” statement when he believed that the request would put the church at risk. I guess…for me…Brian’s practical side adds credibility to his “can do” spirit. It’s great to have a leader who is passionately optimistic, but Brian’s optimism and passion is not blind, it is informed and educated. Brian is a true strategic thinker with a knack for leveraging details to make informed strategic decisions.

3. A True Pastoral Executive

One of my favorite memories of Brian was hearing how much he loved presenting the ministry of Finance and Church Operations to other pastors during a Willow Creek Association conference . Brian never loses site on why he does what he does with the best hours of his days for the Kingdom of our most high God. Brian is a highly educated and highly talented business executive who could serve as a CEO, COO, CFO or any other officer position at any large corporate organization anywhere. Yet he has felt called to invest his business education and talent in the front lines of ministry at a local church.

4. A One Man Cheering Section.

I could be having an absolutely terrible day and somehow meeting with Brian would energize me to attack my work once again. Perhaps it is his energy or perhaps it is his contagious “can-do”  spirit. Whatever the case may be. Brian is a one man cheering section. Brian taught me that believing in the people around me can make a difference. He taught me this in the way he believed in what God was doing in me and through me for the good of the church.

5. A Humble Heart

Brian embodies many extremes…extreme passion, extreme practical wisdom,  extreme ministry, extreme support, and finally extreme humility. As I have written above, Brian is an educated and talented executive. He can move at the level of being and executive’s executive and he would be the first one to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty to help his team move the mission forward. Brian consistently check’s himself and if  he makes a mistake he own’s it, if someone has a good idea he is willing to follow it. Brian may be passionate and strong, but somehow he has found a way to submit his passion to the Authority of Christ.

6.  BONUS ATTRIBUTE: How to end a meeting on time…

Ok…so this doesn’t seem like a big deal…but this one is so important to me that I had to add it to the list as a bonus point…
Honoring peoples’ time is a great way to build trust and follower-ship. Brian has a way of Graciously, but decisively ending meetings on time. He does it it with a respectful spirit, but he does it clearly. I think many leaders don’t take ending meetings on-time seriously. Brian doesn’t make a big deal out of this, he will just calmly but clearly state it is time to go. Brian has taught me by his example how important it is to honor people’s time. The discipline of ending meetings promptly looks so insignificant, but seems to help a leader go a long way down to road toward gaining or losing credibility and follower-ship.


Brian is one of the most supportive and inspirational mentors of have ever had. His heart for God, his love for the church and his passion to do whatever it takes in the right ways and at the rights times to accomplish great things for the kingdom has been inspirational to me. He has taught me that a leaders should have great vision and energy, but that energy should be complimented with diligent planning and sober judgment and self control. He has taught me that an executive at any level can and should have a pastors heart and he has taught me the importance of believing in the people I serve with and that God has a plan for their lives.

But that’s just me, Brian has made a difference in the lives of many. If this is you, please feel free to add a comment and expand the list…

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