I haven’t blogged for a couple of days, obviously. I have been busy. Some of that time has been mindless busy, like spending six hours in the car yesterday picking up my kids from my mom and dad’s house. The trip up there took the standard two hours. The trip back involved three sections of highway that were down to one lane and one four mile stretch that took me nearly an hour to pass. After this weekend I feel as though I now completely officially hate road construction. Yuck.
I was also in Chicago for four-ish days. We drove out on Wednesday and drove back on Saturday. All in all, I have spent upwards of 25 hours of the past week sitting in a car. I did get in some good conversations with some good friends, that part was fabulous and totally fun. So was the reason for being in Chicago. However, too bad I get car sick when I do anything but start out the window, then I could have gotten in hours of writing, reading, or picture editing as well. But no. I wish I could apparate though, or at least use the floo network. That would sure save a lot of time.
Anyway, Steve and I went out to the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Church in Illinois. It was interesting. At first I was totally not going to go. I had to take time off from work, find someone to watch the kids, etc. I just thought, “Nope, not gonna. Steve can go by himself and I will stay here.” Then Steve got an email from the senior pastor at our church who said, “It would be really great if you and Heidi could come to this,” so I said, “Okay.” Why not, right? :)
I have to be honest and say that I was very skeptical at first. The building of Willow Creek Church is bigger than the community college campus that I frequented back in Brainerd. In fact, the pastor of that church calls it a campus. Although, it reminds me a little bit more of a shopping mall with escalators and a three story water fountain in the front lobby area. Their “sanctuary” seats 7,000 people and they fill it up three times a weekend. Housing around Willow Creek averages $700-$1 million for a house. For a HUGE house, castle-like. I thought at least I would for sure have fun hanging out with friends and getting to know many of the other church members - which I did! We had a big group of people made up mainly of staff, elders, and those in leadership positions at CPC. Scary. I also thought that it might just be some big silly Jesus conference where thousands of people commit to changing their lives during and come home unchanged.
Regardless of how the Summit affected other people or not, I learned a ton! I listened to leaders like Tony Blair (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Bono (U2, of course), David Gergen (political analyst, current professor at Harvard, and former White House advisor to Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton), Wess Stafford (President and CEO of Compassion International), Jessica Jackley (a person my age who is co-founder of Kiva.org – check it out if you don’t know what it is, very cool), and several other leaders, authors, and pastors of large churches across the United States. Holy cow. It was like a two day intensive college course on Leadership, specifically leadership in the church.
I can’t even tell you everything that I learned and heard. I took pages and pages of notes. One of the most interesting things that I remember is how one speaker spoke of rating systems. He said that number one, you always have to work at being a better leader. Yes, some people might be gifted with the skill sets of a great leader, but nobody is great right from the start, if you don’t work at it you will never get better, and there is always room for improvement. So that if you start out at as a 6 (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not so great and 10 being great) your organization will never be better than a 6. Mainly because if you are a 6 and you hire someone who is an 8 that person will not stick around. They will get frustrated with your leadership style, the organization in general, and want to move onto bigger and better things. But if you are challenging them, they will stick around a lot longer and your organization will grow as it is filled with lots of knowledgeable and passionate leaders. We also learned things about hiring, firing, the right way to communicate with staff members, and how to take care of and replenish yourself. How to “be the change you want to see in the world.” It was good times.
All in all, I am glad that I went and would actually look forward to going again in the future. Leadership, who would’ve known. :)