No, we are not talking Tennessee Basketball here, but the Global Leadership Summit sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. The conference is held live in South Barrington, Illinois, each year and broadcast to 590 locations across the United States. It is also repackaged and presented in over 125 countries around the world.
I have often said that Willow Creek, the parent congregation, knows how to do big church better than anybody else. One reason is Bill Hybels, the pastor, who can get a bit emotional at times, but is willing to address social issues (like AIDS, racial relations, and the refugee crisis), is clearly a lifelong learner, and is remarkably transparent about his struggles and those of his congregation.
Once again, the Summit has brought together a great line-up of speakers—leadership gurus, business leaders, ministry entrepreneurs, and preachers—to challenge and inform. Hybels himself is one of those people. His leadership “talk” today addressed vision, people development, and legacy. Although he admits he had some bad role models early on when it came to working with people, he clearly enjoys seeing leaders blossom in the church and he shared some of the processes Willow Creek has adopted to assure that happens.
Hybels also did an interview with Melinda Gates (yes, THAT Melinda Gates). After some chit chat that seemed to leave her a bit bored, Hybels got down to the passion that drives her and husband, Bill, to want to change the world. For Melinda, it is rooted in a Catholic school upbringing and furthered by her intelligence and compassion. She seeks to find answers and not just offer solutions. She talked about sitting with women in emerging countries to ask questions and listen. Much like someone doing asset-based community development, she comes as a learner not an expert.
I would like to have heard more from Alan Mulally, former executive vice president of Boeing as well as former President and
Leadership gurus included Travis Bradberry, one of the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, who provided a quick introduction to emotional intelligence and Patrick Lencioni, one of my favorites, who gave an overview of the ideas in his new book The Ideal Team Player.
One of the most dynamic speakers of the day was preacher Jossy Chacko, founder and president of Empart, Inc., who challenged participants to enlarge their vision, empower their people, and be willing to take risks.
My takeaway from today was that there was strong common thread about investing in people. Whether they are leaders in your organization or the poor at your door, people matter. If you invest in people, you are doing what God has called us to do.