If you're not familiar with The Summit it's a leadership conference put on by Willow Creek Church that everyone should attend regardless of your leadership or spiritual position. Or lack thereof. It's just plain good stuff. They usually do a pretty good job of balancing the Jesus stuff with the business stuff and occasionally combining the two.
The speakers always include a variety of church leaders, businessmen, authors, educators, non-profit pioneers, and celebrities. Some of my favorite past speakers are Terri Kelly of Gore-Tex, Jack Welch of GE, Christine Caine of A21, pastor Harvey Carey, Patrick Lencioni of the Table Group, authors Chip and Dan Heath and Bono of...do I really need to say it? I also enjoyed Blake Mycoskie of Tom's Shoes but mainly because I think he should marry my daughter.
I love how during one session Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric who teaches management at MIT, struggles to finish his awesome talk on business management with a minimum amount of profanity; then in another session Harvey Carey gets me so fired up for Jesus that I want to move to Detroit, serve the homeless and be black. Where else can you get fed like that on so many levels? Even the folks over at Fast Company recognize the value of this unique juxtaposition of spiritual and business leaders. Seriously, you should go. Yes, it's pricey, but it's worth it.
One thing I look forward to each year is seeing Bill Hybels, the founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Church, cry. Well that just sounded mean. What I meant is that he's cried at every Willow Creek conference I've ever seen so I think they schedule it in. In fact it should probably be printed in their official schedule of events: At 2:47 p.m. on Day 2, Hybels will cry. Nancy Beach cried today so maybe she's filling in for Bill. That would make her the pinch cryer.
Obviously I'm not a huge fan of Bill Hybels but he's okay. I'm not really sure what it is about him that I don't like. He's a pretty good speaker, he's obviously a gifted leader, he seems to be a genuinely nice person, he's humble and he gives me the creeps for no good reason. Maybe some day I'll figure it out. Today he talked about just some leadership stuff in general. He must not have a new book out right now.
Memorable quotes from Bill Hybels:
- Say what I told you to say. Don't make me come down there. --God
- When the leader stops learning, the leader should stop leading.
- An organization's future is tied to its ability to attract and sustain good leaders.
- If you don’t deal with challenging people in your organization, you discourage and demotivate your best people.
- Churches are in the life transformation business.
Len Schlesinger, president of Babson College, was the second session of the day. His talk was on the characteristics of a serial entrepreneur and how you might be surprised to find that some of the most successful ones often don't start with an idea and they aren't huge risk takers like you might think. He gave some very clear steps on how to start, how to proceed and how to sustain an entrepreneurial venture. That's like the biggest word I've used in 6 months, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to throw it out there.
Memorable quotes from Len Schlesinger:
- If you can't predict the future, create it.
- Entrepreneurship is a discipline that can be learned.
- Stop worrying about what you want to do, and worry about what you want to do next.
- Fear of failure prevents action.
- Successful entrepreneurs start with the things they care about.
Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey was the next speaker and can I just say that the man needs to run for president NOW? He's done amazing things in Newark and could probably do the same for our country if he can get the chance before politics changes him and he becomes one of "them". You know...a professional politician. He told a story about Mahatma Gandhi and a little boy with a sugar habit then basically applied the moral of that story to his real life. He wanted to make changes in Newark, especially in the areas where drugs and crime were the most prevalent, so what did he do? He moved in with the drugs and the crime. He got an apartment in the projects and that was his home. The man has degrees from Stanford, Yale and Oxford where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. Yet his mentor in Newark was an uneducated elderly woman who managed his apartment building in the projects. You've gotta respect that. This guy is seriously amazing.
Memorable quotes from Cory Booker:
- You are the result of a grand conspiracy of love. Now what will you do?
- What you see in the world is less about circumstances but how you see them.
- The world you see outside of you will always be a reflection of what you have inside of you.
- Before you tell me what you teach and preach, show me how you live and give.
- Who you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear a word you say.
Reverend Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is on fire for the Lord! She taught from Acts 2 which is when the Holy Spirit showed up at Pentecost. The woman is spirit filled and contagious! She has a global Christian worldview and talked about what Jesus commissioned us to do in Acts 1:8...to be his witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem is home, where everyone is just like you. Judea is close to home but it's not home. We may visit there but the people are a little different from us. Samaria is the place we avoid like the plague. The people are different and we don't feel safe yet Jesus tells us to go there too.
Memorable quotes from Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil:
- It takes a catalytic event to move us from where we are to where Jesus wants us to be.
- Pray for a divine mandate: God, break our hearts for what breaks your heart.
- Don’t go into a community with answers. Go in with a desire to learn. Learn the language of the people. Acknowledge your need for them.
- I don’t want to just talk about Pentecost, I want to experience it!
I've been a big fan of Seth Godin for years and I've read several of his books. In another life he would be my dream date. Well actually it would be a tie between him and Malcolm Gladwell. If you've ever seen these guys you probably think I'm on crack since it's unlikely either of them would ever be described as attractive. But I'm telling you, their brains are HOT! Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly content with the brilliant Adonis that I'm married to. I'm just saying that in a parallel universe somewhere I am bizarrely attracted to unattractive middle aged geeky Jewish men with either way too much unruly hair or none at all. I can't explain it.
Memorable quotes from Seth Godin:
- We're seeing the death of the industrial age. Is this the end of the job? There's something after the job--the artist.
- You have a chance in this post-industrial age to do things differently.
- It is impossible to do art and always succeed.
- If failure is not an option, neither is success.
- Every revolution destroys what was there before, then it creates something new.
- Too many people are walking around holding on to something while it rots.
- Make art. Give gifts. Lead. Make a difference.
Steven Furtick is dripping with awesome sauce! His talk was about having the audacious faith to believe that what God said is true is actually true. He joked about being the youngster who would bring some stupid to The Summit to offset all the wisdom we were getting, but what he brought was an inspiring reminder of the childlike faith that we're all suppose to have and reminded us about how faith without works is dead. At 31 years old he's the pastor of a mega-church whose weekly attendance at all locations tops 10,000. And this church is only 5 years old. He talked about Elisha in 2 Kings 3:9-20 and I've seriously never seen anyone get that fired up about an Old Testament prophet. For that I can forgive the skinny jeans he wore.
Memorable quotes from Steven Furtick:
- How are we going to get from inspiration to implementation?
- If all you have is good ideas it doesn't make you a visionary. It makes you a day dreamer. The difference is having the audacity and courage to act.
- One of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.
- We can’t expect God to show up in our work unless we do our work God’s way.
- If you will do what you can do, God will do what only he can do.
- We can position ourselves, learn and get training. But only God can make it rain.
- Faith doesn't wait around for water, it digs a ditch. If you will dig the ditches, God will send the rain.