More than 54,000 pastors and church leaders gathered in venues around the nation on Thursday to hear some of today's most influential Christians unlock the secrets to successful leadership.
The three-day 2005 Leadership Summit, broadcasted out of Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, featured mega-church pastors Hybels and Rick Warren, among many others.
Over 110 churches, seminaries, universities and ministries broadasted the summit live, and attendents responded as speakers challenged them to become leaders in the church, the boardroom and at home.
Thursday's session began with Bill Hybels talking about the prerequisites to getting a vision.
"What happens in a leader is that they have this thing called Holy Spirit discontent. There's something in their spirit that they're unsettled about, something that really bothers them," explained Hybels.
The discontent forces the leader to act, Hybels said, as he gave the example of King David's courage to stand up against Goliath.
"Goliath would come into town every day and curse the name of God. No one would do anything about it except David," who was angered enough to challenge the giant with just a slingshot. Scriptures has it that he won.
Hybels elaborated with a message from his own life. He said that while he was growing up, he used to attend a church that never ministered to unsaved people, the music was always bad, and the sermons were long and boring. One day, Hybels realized he couldn't "take it any more," and that's how the Willow Creek Church was born in the 1970s.
Following Hybels' message on the visions and route to leadership, Warren took the stage with a message on life after becoming a leader.
He referred to Moses who met God at a burning bush. God asked him to throw down the staff, which was all that Moses had.
"When he threw it down, it became a living snake. When he picked it up again, it became an inanimate object again."
Warren explained that the staff represented three things for Moses: his identity as a shepherd, his income, and his influence. With that staff, he could reel in his sheep, but God was asking him to throw it all down.
Warren shared the success he personally encountered because of the all-time best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, which Publishers Weekly noted as the bestselling hardback in American history.
Leading by example, he donated 90 percent of the royalties from his book.
"It was a masterful speech," said Paul Braoudakis, spokesperson for Willow Creek. "They were very very well received."
Christians and non-Christians alike were in attendance, but according to Braoudakis, the principles transcend the Church to the home and the board room.
"Leadership is leadership, whether you're practicing it in the church, the board room, or the home. It's just a matter of where the foundation comes from. For the Christian that foundation is in the Bible."
As the summit continues today, leaders from the secular culture will share their leadership wisdom, including Colleen Barrett, President of Southwest Airlines, who manages over 35,000 employees.