As an Army chaplain, I live in the gush, rush and fuss of life. The persistent deployments, the multiple permanent changes of station and the pains, drains and strains of military life force me to ask myself tough and probing questions. The daunting challenge for our Army today is that we are now attempting to transition from 10 years of asymmetrical war to being a well-led fighting force standing on the ready line prepared to react to all kinds of contingency operations.
The piercing question I ask myself is, how do I â€” or we â€” as a Chaplain Corps pour spiritual steel and concrete into the members of our fighting forces who not only live in the daily grind but as leaders in the profession of arms must also find the strength to thrive. In his book, â€œGreat by Choice,â€ Jim Collins gives insight into such thriving when he asserts, â€œWe cannot predict the future. But we can create it.â€ This kind of forward thinking is leadership at its best.
The men and women who lead our armed forces cannot afford to fail. Americaâ€™s destiny in many ways is ours to bear. If there is a problem to solve, we must solve it. If there is a battle to win, we must win it. Gen. Douglas MacArthur said it well, â€œThere is no substitute for victory.â€
Given the fact that we live in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times, the call for adaptable, agile, flexible, innovative and transformational leadership is the pressing issue. It is not enough to create, harvest, harness, employ and deploy such leadership â€” we must sustain such leadership in turbulent and challenging times â€” times of relative peace and in times of war.
I have found that the Global Leadership Summit hosted by the Willow Creek Association to be a viable option in the sustainment, cultivation and refinement of leadership. It is a tool that is worthy of exploration in any organization.
In August 2010, when I was just beginning my tour as installation chaplain at Fort Huachuca, my wife and I were invited by Bob Morton to attend a Global Leadership Summit. It was hosted by Thunder Mountain Community Church.
The assembly of speakers in that 2010 GLS included Bill Hybels, the founder and senior pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. Willow Creek is one of the largest churches in North America, with an average attendance of nearly 24,000. Then there was Jim Collins, a business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth. A third contributor was Tony Dungy, a famous and successful former football player and coach in the National Football League.
And then there was Jack Welch, a chemical engineer, business executive, and author who served as chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001.
The bottom line is that I found this summit experience enlightening, intriguing and engaging. This is not an event where you have pastors speaking to pastors â€” attendees also get exposure to the best of the business, academic and government worlds. This Christian- and values-based summit is not churchy or preachy, nor is it exclusive or intrusive. While Willow Creek is unapologetically Christian, the summit experience shows that leadership principles are trans-denominational; they transcend culture and ethnicity, and are often multi-disciplinary.
In August of 2011 we launched the first Global Leadership Summit in the Army at the Main Post Chapel here on Fort Huachuca. The after-action reports we received from attendees were extremely encouraging.
The Religious Support Office will host our second Global Leadership Summit, Aug. 9 â€“ 10, on Fort Huachuca at the Main Post Chapel. The Chapel community will provide scholarships for 200 attendees so there will be no cost to attend. Soldiers, Family members and Department of Defense workers and contractors are invited. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (520) 533-4748.
The lineup of speakers for GLS 2012 includes, Bill Hybels; former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice; and nationally acclaimed business thinker and author, Jim Collins. Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children; Sheryl Wuddunn, bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize winner and business executive; Craig Groeschel, founder and Senior Pastor of Life Church TV; John Ortberg, Senior Pastor of Menio Park Presbyterian Church and author; and Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children Zone will be presenting, among others.
More information about the Global Leadership Summit is available at the Willow Creek WEB site, http://willowcreek.com/summit.
May the Lord be with you.