When was the last time you were super excited about an upcoming event? For me, I am pumped about this Thursday—Friday (August 5—6) because I am attending The Global Leadership Summit conference! What is that you may ask? It is a gathering of over 100,000 people worldwide (via live simulcast) who are blessed to hear gifted teaching on leadership and touching stories about what God is doing all over our planet. Some of the speakers this year include: Tony Dungy, Jack Welch, Jim Collins, Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS shoes), Terri Kelly (President & CEO of GORE-TEX) and pastors T.D. Jakes, Andy Stanley and Billy Hybels, just to name a few. In previous years, prominent speakers included Carly Fiorina, Jimmy Carter, Bono, Chuck Colson, David Gergen and Tony Blair. As you can see, this event is an opportunity to learn from and be challenged by some of the best religious, political and business leaders in the world!
Every year I leave this event energized and inspired about being a leader in a local church because it reminds me that I can make a difference to tangibly help people and change our world. I value this event so much that this will be my sixth straight year attending and each year I have deliberately brought more people from our church. In fact this year EFC is bringing 19 people because I want our leaders, staff and key volunteers to catch God’s vision for our community and world while also being rejuvenated & reenergized for the hard work that lies ahead of us.
Another great benefit of the Global Leadership Summit is that we usually come away with two or three stellar ministry ideas. For example, every year the conference provides testimonies of churches that are addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa. After last year’s conference, we knew we had to do something. So this past Christmas Eve our church took a special offering for AIDS and genocide orphans in Rwanda. We donated the money to a ministry that provides scholarships to send impoverished students to Christian schools so they can gain the education and training necessary to find good jobs and support their families.
Furthermore, the conference has also spurred us into more community service and involvement. Some of the speakers are pastors whose churches are making a real impact on their cities. Last year, Pastor Harvey Carey of Detroit described how his church is very active in their community and admonished the conference attendees to get outside the walls of their sanctuary and do something to serve the poor and needy. Although our church does not have an identical context, we have responded with more outreach events such as The Church Has Left the Building and The Day at the Park. Yet again this year I am sure the speakers will confront us with the reality that we can and must do more!
But I don’t mind being challenged as a leader. I actually welcome it! God has wired leaders differently. In Romans 12:8, the Apostle Paul asserts that leadership is a spiritual gift from God like serving or teaching or encouraging. It seems to me that every leader burns with an inner fire to change the status quo and battle the entropy that prevails around us. Leaders are visionaries: they refuse to see and accept the world as it is, but instead choose to see how things could be and should be. They are not content to sit on the sidelines and watch life unfold. As pastor Bill Hybels, the founder of the Summit, declares every year: “leaders have a bias towards action.”
So I am choosing to attend the Global Leadership Summit. Look out world! There is nothing like a fired up leader!