Friday, August 7, 2009

Lessons Learned from Leadership Summit 09

Oh my goodness, I don't think I can even finish this post today. Everything is still running around in my head. So much to process I can't even begin to think through it all. Today alone we learned about thinking third world and why we need to equip Africa to help themselves out of poverty instead of just giving handouts and much much more. I will say that the most powerful session for me was today's session with Wess Stafford. I read the title for his session and thought "okay leading from your past" pretty generic. But was still excited to hear from him and learn. I love what Compassion is doing to help release children from poverty and am proud to be a new partner with them in a small way by sponsoring two little preschool girls in India. But I admit I wasn't prepared to hear what he spoke on today. Unfortunately I hadn't taken the time to pick up his book Too Small To Ignore to read about his life and why he does what he does. (If you care about children or have children you need to read this. It will fuel your fire to protect, speak for and care for those who are too small to care for themselves or have a voice.)
When he began to share his own personal story it hard to cconvey how I was impacted by what he was sharing. The word overwhelmed doesn't begin to cover it. To hear of a little boy who was repeatedly abused at the hand of those who represented God and His kingdom not only broke my heart but infuriated me. It was a powerful time of hearing how he forgave his abusers and moved forward trusting God with his life and mission to help those who are little and defenseless. It made me even more aware of my responsibility as a minister that works with preschoolers of my job to be their advocate. To speak for them, care for them and provide a place where they are kept safe as well as hear about God's love for them by people that are showing them that lovingly,not hurting them.

But he also spoke to the subject of forgiveness. The fact that he realized that he had to forgive his abusers: or as he said (paraphrase) if you don't forgive you live in a prison and allow others to live in you and continue to hurt you rent free. WOW! So very true. When he finished there people came to their feet and applauded him but I think it wasn't the type of applause you hear when you see a dunk shot done at the buzzer, I think it was to support him and his braveness for being so open and sharing such a painful time from his life...and also the applause of agreement, and the knowledge that we need to do this ourselves. Bill Hybels did a great job of wrapping that time up. Allowing us to sit and absorb and process as much as we could of what he had said as well as take the time to do what he challenged us to do: forgive and be forgiven. I have to admit this was the most powerful moment that I remember experiencing from the 4 summits I have attended.

So thank you to Willow Creek and my church for time given and resources and information shared. I am sure I will be processing this for a while.


Amy M. Fry said...

That was a wonderfully powerful post. I totally get the 'whys' of your still having to process all the information, stories, and lessons that impacted,and will continue to impact you so deeply.
Thank you for sharing that. As a former advocate for kids in the court system-abuse/neglect cases-I "hyper-appreciate" the story you told here.

Sherry said...

Thanks Amy, it was a tremendously powerful session. Words just don't do it justice. Wess did a wonderful job conveying the need to care for and speak for children who can't.