I had an honest church leader tell me once that I’m, “not a leader”. Since that time I’ve been haunted by that comment. Now understand, I am the guy who has always been upfront or behind the scenes leading something. From my time in grade school as a Pathfinder (Boy Scout/Girl Scout Club type of organization) through my High School years serving as class pastor, and religious vice president. Not to mention summer camp, leading an English language institute in South Korea, and serving as Student Association president on my University campus. I also founded and operated a successful non-profit organization (Dream Kids Inc.), and I’ve led multiple churches, and teams on various projects successfully.
Still, to this day, that comment, “you’re not a leader” echoes in my mind. Honestly I think there’s some truth to it. Leadership doesn’t come easy for me. What I think I’ve learned over the years though, is that while leadership may not be my primary gift, leadership is still demanded of me. More importantly, while leadership may not come easy that doesn’t give me an excuse to avoid legitimate leadership development even as a “non-leader”.
In observing those who are effective leaders I’ve learned that they don’t rest on their success. They are constantly being challenged. They read about leadership, attend workshops on leadership, and are consistently seeking ways to hone their skills as leaders. Further, the best and most humble leaders aren’t afraid to have their world’s rocked by a speaker that may challenge their own thinking or practices.
That’s why I can’t urge you enough to attend The Global Leadership Summit (August 8-9). The Global Leadership Summit is an annual leadership development conference hosted by the Willow Creek Association and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL near Chicago. In my mind it is the premier leadership event in the country designed to both inspire and equip any leader of any generation. Willow has been doing the Summit since 1992 and it now serves 170,000 leaders representing more than 14,000 churches.
Over the past ten years I’ve attended the event off and on. The last couple of years the church I led in Salt Lake City, UT was a Premier Host Site affording me the opportunity to not only attend the Summit locally, but also get up-close access to the team at Willow Creek that makes the Summit happen.
Here are 7 reasons I’m attending and why I believe you should attend:
1. Everyone Leads Something. Your family, team, church group, you name it, and it requires a leader. Something I learned from a previous summit is that YOU may very well be the most challenging person you’ll ever lead. Everyone leads something, including YOU, and ME. Whatever WE lead will have a better chance of reaching its fullest potential as we become better leaders.
2. Personal Renewal. Leadership takes its toll. The summit is for renewal and restoration. You’ll come away with new energy ready to take your organization, family, or team to the next level. You can’t help but get the sense that every faculty member (speaker) at the Summit is invested in your renewal. You’ll know that from the moment they speak.
3. Recapture Vision. Again, from a past Summit I learned that “vision leaks” which means as leaders we have to recapture and recast vision constantly. The summit always stirs up vision, allowing leaders to have renewed conviction about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
4. Networking. Connecting with other leaders is powerful. You’ll meet other leaders who could become allies or partners. It’s an opportunity for more conversation that may stretch you or affirm you. Can’t say enough how much I personally enjoy meeting other leaders and finding out what their teams are doing and how they are fulfilling their God-given mission.
5. It Will Disturb You. There’s a good chance you’ll hear something you don’t like. Get over it. The summit is designed to challenge leaders to think about leadership and not just in the way they’ve always thought about leadership. The “disequilibrium” of the summit keeps it provocative and compelling for leaders ready to become more effective at leading.
6. See Excellence on Display. The summit is done extremely well. It’s not perfect, but it is intentional, well thought out, and executed to the glory of God. As a leader I appreciate churches that don’t hold back in hosting an event that will leave a lasting impression on hundreds of thousands of people. You’ll hear world class speakers, and the music, interviews, and videos are exceptional.
7. Because of Bill. From what I can tell Bill Hybels (sr. pastor/chairman of WCA) was put on this planet to help other leaders. He’s helped me and countless millions of pastors. I love his saying, “the local church is the hope of the world! But in order for it to reach it’s redemptive potential it must be well led.” I think he’s right on, and I don’t think you’ll find anyone more qualified to lead you through 2 days of leadership development. I’ve met and interacted with Bill on several occasions. I’ve joked with him that I’m the one Seventh-day Adventist pastor who was able to convince his church to be a Premiere Host Site for the summit and that he should be thankful because most Adventists believe he’s the anti-Christ! He laughs but is always encouraging and grateful for the support.
The Summit starts tomorrow and runs through Friday August 9. There’s still time to register and attend a Premier Host Site near you!