Friday was fantastic, easily the best day of a Willow Creek Leadership Summit that I’ve experienced. The morning began with an effervescent Dave Gibbons describing “3rd Culture” leadership, ran through a re-imagining of Africa’s story let by Andrew Rugasira, continued with Compassion International CEO Wess Stafford‘s emotionally powerful plea on behalf of the children of the world, and ended with a heavyweight interview with David Gergen, advisor to 4 U.S. Presidents and author of Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton.
The afternoon kicked off with an interview with Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Practical thoughts for days.
“Whenever I see grace, I’m moved.” – Bono
Several years ago, Bono contacted Bill Hybels and challenged him, as one of the most influential Pastors in North America, to get on board with the international movement to battle the HIV-AIDS pandemic. At the 2006 Leadership Summit, Hybels’ interview with Bono catalyzed many church leaders to move out and take action, and several months ago, three years later, Hybels interviewed U2’s front man again. Bono fussed at Hybels for messing up his usual line about the church, for taking away his ability to be as hard on the church as he’s been. Bono was genuinely impressed with the speed of response that he’d seen. “I didn’t know the (sleeping) giant could run so fast,” Bono said. He lauded the work of the church, going so far as to say that the large volume of antiretroviral drugs being dispensed in Africa simply would not have occurred without the work of the churches.
Bono told the story of being down once, wandering through Central Park, wondering whether or not all his effort was worth it. He came up on a man confronting the people going by, selling old newspapers and the man started talking to him, and offered to sell him a newspaper. Bono looked at the paper, and it was a 1969 New York Times (if I have this right) announcing that we had put a man on the moon. This was meaningful for Bono, because he has often seen JFK’s call to put a man on the moon within a decade as evidence that we can do almost anything if we put our imaginative energy to work. Why can we do the same with “stupid poverty?” is Bono’s thinking. He bought all the man’s newspapers and went home encouraged, vaguely musing over the idea the man might have been a sort of angel with a message he needed.
“We do our best work when we don’t know what we’re doing.” – Bono
Hybels was Hybels, as always, and at one point in the interview, went after Bono about his involvement in a local church. Bono described his love of various churches, but Hybels kept after him, and at one point, Bono cited a fear of denominationalism, at which point Hybels upbraided for invoking “fear”, as if Bono was afraid of anything. Bono grinned, noticeably squirmed a bit, saying, “You’re right, you’re right.” It was a great moment, Hybels challenging one of the great humanitarian spokesmen of the day to get involved in the local church.
There was lots more, and when it was over, it was hard to not believe we can make major inroads in the fight against stupid poverty, with these kind of men challenging us to get serious and move out on behalf of the kingdom of God.
Bono said, “People want magic, they want a moment…”