Typically every year I sign up for the two day conference called the Global Leadership Summit. It always inspires me and fires me up for the new year ahead. This year I wasn’t sure what to do though because of all the fallout happening at Willow Creek centered around misconduct from their Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels. As a result of what was going on I noticed that some of the speakers I was really looking forward to were pulling out. So I was having second thoughts about going. But then some of my fellow staff members said they were going to go at the last minute so I signed up to go too. Part of what I wanted to know was how the conference leaders would address what exactly was going on with the situation at Willow Creek. Thankfully they addressed the “elephant in the room” immediately at the beginning of the conference. What was said I believed was done with truth, justice and grace. In the era of the #MeToo movement this could not just be swept under the carpet. My heart breaks for the church, but I feel like this situation is a very big cautionary signal for all of those in ministry. We need to recognize that sin is real and we need to be aware of our own temptations and have people we are accountable to. There have been many instances throughout my life in which I have seen people who have gotten caught up in sin and it has destroyed all that they have worked for. It is truly sad but I must also have the humility and caution to know that it could happen to me too if I am not careful.
With that said, it ended up being a really great conference after all. My hope is that Willow Creek and the Global Leadership Summit end up being bigger than the person who created it all. The world is starving for leadership, integrity and hope. This conference always finds a wide spectrum of voices that inspire, encourage and uplift.
Now I want to just jot down some of the highlights of some of the speakers so I don’t forget the lessons learned.
Craig Groeschel started and ended the conference. Both talks were extremely powerful. In his opening talk, he hit home that fact that leaders needed to have a profound humility and a furious resolve to speak up for those with no voice. He also stated that everyone wants to follow a leader who makes people feel valued, inspired, and empowered. He showed how Jesus did this through showing grace, serving others and empowering others to expand the mission.
It was the first time I ever heard T.D. Jakes and boy what a great preaching voice he has. He talked about having a big vision beyond what you can imagine. He also hit home that we must learn from our failures and not give up but soar.
One of my favorite presenters was Danny Mayer. He is a big restaurateur. He talked about 6 emotional skills that are celebrated but not learned: 1) being kindhearted / optimistic; 2) being a person of curiosity; 3) strong work ethic; 4) empathy; 5) self-awareness; and 6) integrity. These character traits and valuable to have.
Danielle Strickland was another amazing speaker who emphasized that men and women are better together. We can not give into despair but we must be aware of how power and sex can be used to create violence and damage to relationships.
While familiar with the writings of John Maxwell, I have never heard him in person. He did a great job in emphasizing that we need to put ourselves in places with people who will inspire your heart and mind.
Then there was Erwin McManus. While familiar with the fact that he is a pastor and an author, I have never heard him speak either. He gave a powerful talk about how he came down with cancer and how that experience changed his life. It was the “Seize the Day” talk about making the most of every second that God has given you here on this planet. Excellent and very moving.
Simon Sinek was another speaker that I really enjoyed. He talked about the 5 things for an infinite player: 1) a just cause; 2) trusting teams; 3) a worthy rival (not a competitor but someone who exists to make me better); 4) essential flexibility and 5) the courage to lead.
Craig Groeschel wrapped up the conference. He talked about anticipatory leadership where we anticipate what is going on instead of just reacting. Anticipatory leadership helps us to 1) develop awareness, 2) discern future threats and possibilities and 3) disrupt, lead with healthy skepticism and bold optimism.
Overall, I would highly recommend this conference for everyone in ministry or business. All the speakers are incredible and inspiring. I always come away from it fired up for a new year of ministry.