FAIRFAX, Va. – Church leaders attending the Leadership Summit at sites across North America were left with a sobering reminder of the world's woes and the difficult task they have at hand in carrying God's calling.
They were asked if they could be fully yielded to God as one of the most famed humanitarian figures in history had been.
More than 50,000 leaders stood up at the conclusion of the two-day annual summit, hosted by the Willow Creek Association, repeating some of the proverbs Mother Teresa had lived by for over four decades of her life.
"God, I yield myself fully to you," they said. "I will do your bidding without delay. I will refuse you nothing ... I will seek to love You as You have never been loved before.
"Here am I, send me."
After studying for months about Mother Teresa, Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., painted a powerful picture of the "pint-sized" Catholic nun, who had given herself fully to God even during periods when she could not feel God's presence.
"Even though I don't feel His presence, I will seek to love Him as he has never been loved," Hybels quoted her as saying.
The megachurch leader admitted that such words were "foreign" to his spirituality. Noting that no one has affected him more deeply than Mother Teresa, he said the entire summit was worth it for him just to do the research on this woman.
"Are you lighting up the radar screen in heaven by your yieldedness?" Hybels asked. "If you were God for a day, would you pick you?"
Although it may seem nearly impossible to many to see another figure like Mother Teresa come along in history and make an impact the way she did, Hybels reminded the leaders that God continues to search for a yielded heart and that He has planned something greater for this generation.
"Greater things have yet to come," the thousands of leaders sang following Hybels' talk.
The 13th annual Leadership Summit was broadcast live Aug. 7-8 to 123 locations in North America and will be videocast to an additional 108 cities worldwide in the fall. It is dubbed as one of the world's most premier leadership training events and draws world-class speakers from a variety of sectors.
In 2006 and 2007, the conference featured former president Jimmy Carter, former secretary of state Colin Powell and U2 frontman Bono in its speaker line-up. Hybels acknowledged that many people carried doubts about this year's conference because of the lackluster line-up compared to previous years.
But many affirmed with applause that they weren't disappointed this year and Hybels assured them that the summit staff work hard to discern their speakers.
Among Friday's speakers were Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries, Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv, Catherine Rohr of Prison Entrepreneurship Program and Brad Anderson, who heads Best Buy.