I watched the eclipse last Monday. It was awesome to see a monster take a bite out of the sun. I wonder what our ancient ancestors thought when this happened? We have had numerous articles and media presentations explaining the eclipse. I was well informed and understand the basic celestial mechanics of the event. As I watched the progress of the eclipse a small flock of vultures flew in circles around my back yard. The combined experience elicited the feeling that there is more to the story, that these events portend another significant happening. Just a feeling, I have no idea what that might be.

Last week Thursday and Friday I attended the Global Leadership Summit, a video seminar at CrossPoint Church. This is the third year that CrossPoint has presented this program. The seminar was a series of 13 video presentations by accomplished leaders in several different areas. The Global Leadership seminar was presented in over 600 locations all over the United States. On other occasions it is translated and broadcast to 128 countries in 60 languages. The program is produced by the Willow Creek Association based in South Barrington, a suburb of Chicago. It is broadcast live from the Willow Creek Church.

The primary purpose of the Leadership Summit is to develop and train church leaders. The presenters represented a cross section of leaders who are primarily engaged in business and nonprofit activities. Many of the people who attended were representatives of businesses or individuals interested in improving leadership skills.

The presenters included Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and Good Sam and star of the TV program, The Profit. Also included were founders of non-profit organizations, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative, and Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of International Justice Mission.

The session began with a talk by Bill Hybels, the founder of Global Leadership Summit. He began with a story about a prank that he had managed when he was ten years old. He convinced his classmates to slam the covers of their desks on cue from him while the teacher’s back was turned. The noise of the slamming desktops upset the teacher. She demanded to know the ringleader for this prank. All eyes turned toward Bill. He confessed. All of the other students were released for recess. Bill was told to stay at his desk. The teacher told Bill that the punishment for his prank was to miss recess for a week. She also told him that it took considerable leadership ability to pull off this prank. She told him that he should use his leadership ability for good things and not for bad.

While resting at his desk he thought about what the teacher had said. He went on to say that this was the first time that he had been made aware of his potential leadership qualities. He talked to many leaders in the process of developing the Leadership Summit program and he had asked them when they became aware of their leadership potential. He said most of the leaders could remember someone like this teacher who had made them aware of certain leadership qualities. Bill's message was that we should all be aware of young people who demonstrated leadership qualities, that we should encourage them to develop leadership skills.

Bill went on to talk about various points of good leadership. And he gave this example of a statement made by Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, taken from a speech given to his employees. "I am not asking you to merely tolerate each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing of you but to be quiet and not make waves, holding tightly to your views and judgments without being challenged. Do not merely tolerate each other. Work hard. Move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other."

I was impressed by this statement as I have had this same thought on several occasions when I have heard folks talk about tolerance.

Another presenter that made a deep impression on me was a young woman from Rwanda who survived the genocide which occurred there several years ago. Immaculee Ilibagiza witnessed the killing of her entire family by the opposing tribe. She survived by hiding in the bathroom of the house of a helpful neighbor for 91 days. She was a Christian and tried to recite the Lord’s Prayer. She could not say the part about forgiveness of those who trespass against us. So she left out this part. After several months of this practice she heard a voice in her head which said, “What right do you have to edit My prayers?” She struggled with forgiving the killers of her family. She finally concluded that for her own mental health she needed to forgive. Then she was able to say all of the Lord’s Prayer.

I felt the Global Leadership Summit was a worthwhile program for anyone interested in leadership whatever their employment or interests. I have already signed up for next year.

Phil Wood, a Baha'i, originally from New England, resided for 12 years in Barbados, 4 years in China, has lived 30 years in Hutchinson. pwood1937@gmail.com