Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, Day One

Yesterday was the first day of the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit.  Of all the conferences that I attend, or plan on attending, this is the event that I look forward to more than any other.  I greatly appreciate the way that the Summit takes an interdisciplinary approach to leadership, inviting speakers from both the church and secular world, and allows you to make the integration into your specific church context.  Yesterday was challenging, inspiring, and flat out butt-kicking for me… here is a little bit about why:

  • Bill Hybels started off by talking about leadership challenges that we all face: dealing with difficult people, knowing and working through your organization’s issues, the need to re-evaluate the core of your organization.  He also spoke about knowing and keeping an appropriate level of challenge in your life, realizing that too much or too little challenge in the life of a leader ends badly.  Hybels finished up talking about having your leadership bell rung… but more on that in a bit.
  • Cory Booker killed it.  I admit that I was skeptical when I saw that the current Mayor of Newark, NJ was going to be speaking, and dug in for a political speech, but I was flat out wrong.  The mayor brought it, calling us all to be clear about what it is that we are living for and giving to before we begin to preach, teach, and pontificate upon the ills of our society.  The fire and passion that he had reminded me of a certain Baltimore mayor of years gone by, and gives me hope for the city of Newark.
  • Seth Godin was as Godin-esque as ever, weaving together stories and an impressive amount of power point slides to remind us that we need to bust out of the factory model and realize that we were created to make art, and do things that matter.  I believe that having him share a few hours after Len Schlesinger was brilliant as Len’s point about no business model can survive a persons entire career set Godin up to hit us between the eyes with the fact that what used to work, no longer does.

You could have stopped there, and the day would have been pretty amazing.  But as I mentioned earlier, Hybels spoke of having your leadership bell rung from time to time.  What he was communicating was that every now and then, we need to see something that makes us realize that we have seen something amazing, and God inspired.  Sometimes it is a book that leaves us saying “God was in that, and I needed it” other times it is a conversation, or watching someone lead well.  Regardless of what or how it happens, we need to have it happen from time to time.

Bill Hybels rang my bell today.  As you may have heard, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was supposed to speak at the Summit.  Due to a petition and promised boycott from certain activists, Schultz canceled at the last minute.  Christianity Today explains the circumstances here.  After the lunch break, Bill came up and spoke about the change of plans, and did it in a way that I think that we all need to learn from.  Check this out:

Go buy his book!
Go buy some coffee!
Email him and let him know that we would still love to learn from him!

How many of us would have that same response in a similar situation?

When was the last time YOUR leadership bell was rung?  Who or what did the ringing?

Leave a comment below with the answer to that question for a chance at a $20 gift certificate from… buy your next bell ringer on me!  Comments must be received by noon EST, August 13, 2011.  


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Ken Patterson

    Amazing! Our leadership team just spent two full-days a couple of weeks ago going through the 2010 Summit and its painful that we couldn’t attend this one. (I think 2010 and 2011 in the same month would have been dangerous anyway….), but seeing Bill Hybels response to Shultz has humbled me beyond belief. He had every right to go up there and use it as a platform to slam others, complain about the direction our society is going in, etc…but yet he not only responded gracefully, but in a way that is humbling to young leaders, and I am sure humbling to any opposition. I’m charged up just off of this clip. 

    • Matt Steen

      Hey Ken, really likes you… your gift certificate is on it’s way.

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Hybels nailed that one because he gave up his rights and thought of how to honor Christ and to show compassion to others. So much of our fighting is based on the “I’ve been hurt and therefore I have a right to act out in any way I want!” Hybels provided  a better example.

  • Pingback: Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, Day Two -

  • Pingback: Living Outside of the Majority Culture -

  • Pingback: Is Your Church a Thermostat or a Thermometer? -