Lead Where You Are
Last Thursday and Friday a small group of us attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit; a two day conference originating at Willow Creek Church in Barrington, IL and simulcast throughout the world to more than 45 countries. It reaches more that 160,000 leaders, primarily in church, non-profit and corporate arenas and is undeniably one of the largest and, in my opinion, best leadership conferences in the world each year. In fact, change that – it isn’t one of the best, it is THE best – bar none. We were fortunate in that we were able to attend at Grace Community Church, which is our home church and within 5 minutes of our home.
What’s so neat about the whole thing is that there are world class leaders who present lectures or lessons to this huge international audience. There are also periods of song and worship as well as interviews of leaders who give us insight to elements of their lives that we would not otherwise be privy to. Throughout the years we have listened to Bono, Pres. Jimmy Carter, David Gergen, and this Summit we heard from Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under the latest Pres. Bush.
We also heard from others around the world who deal in rescuing people from human sex trafficking, business leaders who gave lectures on team dynamics and lessons from Southwest Airlines, Jim Collins discussing his newest concepts on why mighty companies fall and a host of other really interesting topics relevant to the world today. I can’t help but get amped up each year as this event rolls around. And as you can tell, the faculty varies from year to year but one overall theme really shines through – and that is the title of this post – Lead Where You Are…
Each year, Janet tells me how much she enjoys attending the Summit with me. What’s ironic is that she doesn’t consider herself a leader, yet she gets jazzed by being around all the leaders who attend. But in a way, she’s wrong. Janet is a leader – she leads elements of our home life – is definitely the leader of our social life, is an awesome mother and role model for our children, is the president of a local chapter of a national women’s organization and holds many other leadership positions that she doesn’t even consider. It’s just that her leadership style is a little more laid back than mine is. Janet has spiritual gifts of mercy, faith and helps. And they are what we think of as softer spiritual gifts – leadership doesn’t come naturally to her. In fact, I would call her a reluctant leader…
Conversely, my gift mix is a little different. Those of you who know me personally are aware that my gifts are not as soft as Janet’s – they are leadership, teaching and hospitality. And, as you know, I have trouble with things like mercy and some of the softer gifts that I so admire in Janet. But no matter what God has endowed you with, the point of spiritual gifts is to use them to the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom. That means that when any of us are in positions of leadership, we have a responsibility to lead to the best of our ability.
Now don’t get me wrong – even people who don’t have the “gift” of leadership are called upon to lead from time to time. I daresay that each of us had led some significant initiative sometime in his or her life. So what does the Bible say about this? Well, the foundational verse about leadership is found in the book of Romans. Paul talks about some of the various ways that God has endowed His people and we are told in Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
So we are to lead with diligence. What’s that mean? To lead with conscience and compassion; a persistent and careful effort, paying constant close attention to what we are doing. Sounds a little tougher when you put it like this, don’t you think? And to repeat myself, we are to lead from where we are – visibly or quietly.
My encouragement this evening is that you will understand that you are a leader. God has placed you in positions of leadership and that is not by accident. It’s because you have something to add to the mix – you bring something to the table that is lacking and needs your special touch. My prayer is that you will take your leadership responsibilities seriously and that when faced with leadership decisions, you will lead with diligence in the eyes of the Lord – building consensus and advancing your team. Of course, recognizing that there are times that you will be called upon to make tough choices that may not be popular at the time – but that’s one of the responsibilities of leadership – just do your best to honor God in the process. And just maybe you will attend the Summit next year – I already have in on my calendar for August 8th and 9th.
Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…