I just finished up at the Global Leadership Summit, Day #1. For the past 14 years or so, the GLS has been a non-negotiable in my schedule. Simply put, I totally buy-in to the idea that “when a leader gets better, everyone wins.” And I get better every year at the Summit.
In terms of the talk and sessions, they have been amazing so far. Hybels, as he always does in his opening session, gave us enough material to chew on for the next year; Melinda Gates blew me away and was deeply challenging; Patrick Lencioni is always great. And I have pages of notes from Alan Mulally, Jossy Chacko and Travis Bradbury. And the recent addition (last couple of years) of more and more stories about leaders across the globe, this has been one of the best Day #1 I can remember.
I will chew on, process and reflect upon the content of the sessions more later, but first some personal reflections from today:
Through 14 years at the Summit, I have been there through various seasons of leadership and it has been critical to me in each season.
- SEASON 1: Young Leader. As a young leader just finding my sense of calling and “leadership feet”, the Summit filled a critical role for me when it was hard to find older leadership mentors who wanted to invest in the next generation of up-and-coming leaders. The Summit became for me a Leadership 101 experience and an annual experience reminding me I wasn’t crazy for going all in as a leader.
- SEASON 2: Successful Leader. As my ministry grew and I became a church planter, the Summit became the place I would bring our leadership team to every year. We were building a leadership culture, investing in young (and not-so-young) leaders, and the Summit was a critical tool for discipleship, leadership development, strategic planning and an annual recalibration. It was also equal parts challenge and affirmation. Each year I was challenged in some aspect of my leadership, while also being affirmed in my gift, ministry, calling, etc.
- SEASON 3: Fallen Leader. Seven years ago, I fell and I fell hard as a leader. All very well documented here on this blog as well as in a chapter in Jeff Chu’s book “Does Jesus Really Love Me” (here). Even through that season, I went to the Summit. It was hard, embarrassing, painful. I saw people who had just found out way more about me than they wanted to know, people who had been my peers, and people from the church I had left. I was also essentially “benched” as leader, which made listening to all the talks and messages even harder. I wasn’t leading anything and had blown up my ministry in my own personal scandal. But I kept going because I needed to. I’m not sure why, I needed to. So I did.
- SEASON 4: Healing Leader. Then over a few years, each year as Hybels would speak, I would literally be balling… real tears. Through this process God used the Summit to help heal my soul and my sense of calling as a leader. Bit by bit, I began to feel again and that meant that I was reconnecting with my holy discontent and a renewed sense that maybe God wasn’t done with me, that maybe He still had a plan, a calling, a purpose for me. Perhaps it was time to get off the bench.
- SEASON 5: Restored Leader. This year, as I am back, I am working full time in an amazing job/ministry committed to mobilizing our community to break cycles of poverty. In the past year, we have launched a new culinary jobs training program helping homeless, ex-homeless, at-risk for homelessness, ex-cons, etc, develop life skills and job skills. The program is growing and the leadership challenges are real. I am also back in pastoral ministry (part time, bi-vocational), part of a 3-person co-Lead Pastor team leading a young, vibrant, growing church. In many respects, I am as much in the leadership game now — if not more — than I have ever been. And it is good to be around other leaders and learning from great leaders.
So through all the seasons, I am reminded again and again, of why I am so thankful for the Global Leadership Summit.
Today was also filled with three powerful grace moments for me:
SEEING GOD’S FRUIT.
During a break, I had a chance to catch up with a guy I have known since he had just met Jesus and was in high school. He has been in full time ministry for the past 9 years or so, many of them hard. But he plugged along — and now ministry is really clicking in some amazing ways. When he was in HS — and then in the years after — I spent a decent amount of time with him and even more praying for him. He had obvious leaderships gifts and I mostly wanted to encourage and mentor him in those areas. A lot of people told me I was wasting my time working with him — he was in a different town than my primary ministry (when he was in HS), and then I was insanely busy with my own church planting… but I felt like God was calling me to love, challenge and mostly encourage this young leader. To see him now and to hear what God is doing in his ministry, brings unspeakable joy to me.
SEEING GOD’S PROVISION & FAITHFULNESS.
Also during a break, I got to spend 10 minutes or so with the new pastor at the church I left back in 2009. That church had a hard time, frankly, over the past 7 years or so and just called this young new pastor back in February. I pray for that church daily, I pray for its members, its leaders, and its impact on the community. I am as passionate about the mission of that church — which I still believe was God’s idea, not ours — as I have ever been. In many respects, I still feel unreconciled with church, and I pray about that too. But I very much like their new pastor and he is a really good guy. The conversation was brief, cordial, and I think authentic on both ends. And it reminded me of the provision and faithfulness of God. He loves that church more than anybody, and deeply wants to bless it.
SEEING GOD’S SENSE OF HUMOR & GOODNESS.
After getting home, I got a FB message from a friend from my high school days. We have kept up some over the years, mostly by FB but also connected in person a few years ago. He is also a regular attendee of the Summit. When we were first friends in high school, neither of us were believers. I became a believer my senior year of high school, but honestly don’t know his story. His message was about a friend he invited to the Summit that he was praying for. I just think it is really cool that we have this connection and bond all these years later… a reminder of God’s goodness, grace and humor.
Those are my (mostly personal) reflections from Day 1… can’t wait for Day 2! And mark your calendars now: Aug 10-11, 2017… would love to have you come with me!