I normally like to write one thoughtful blog per week. However, due to both vacation and the “pondering” time needed to reflect on the topics below, I am long overdue. I will start with the WCA Summit and finish with my next blog on China and Wendell Berry. WCA Leadership Summit, Aug.6-7, 2009. This was my first summit and I was extremely blessed, inspired, challenged, and encouraged by the speakers and flow of the conference. The gift of Bill Hybels and Willow to the entire discussion around global church leadership was evident. There are few venues like the Summit to challenge and stretch leaders like this one. I plan to bring our entire staff next year. Concerns: 1. The Slowing Down Omission. The gift of leadership, like all spiritual gifts, has a shadow side and is potentially damaging. I know this only too well! The fact that we can lead and seize opportunities for the gospel does not equal God’s will. I found myself, during the conference, needing to remind myself that my call is to do God’s will, to wait on Him, and to be still first, and then to lead out of that place. In the past, conferences like this fed a dark side within me – of ambition, life without limits, and grasping/striving. I pushed NLF to places that were not God’s will for us. The people serving with me, especially our staff, could sense something wasn’t right even though we were growing numerically. 2. The Marriage Omission. Talking about church leadership without talking about the leader’s marriage is another potential danger. Paul ties the health of our marriages to the health of our leadership (1 Tim.3:7). How can I lead the church as the bride to union/oneness with her husband Jesus if my own union/oneness with my earthly marriage is out of order (Ephesians 5:32)? The connection of marriage, sexuality and spiritual formation is profound, biblical and inescapable (see John Paul II’s theology of the body for more on this). Is it possible to lead a healthy, maturing, growing church and have a marriage out of order? The Bible seems to indicate the answer is, “No.” How can we use our leadership gifting for Christ in such a way that we do not lose our soul? For as Jesus said, “What profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul” Mk. 8:26.