Redefining Leadership

Below is a fantastic overview and analysis from Magdoleen Meleka, one of the core leaders and HOPE volunteers from the Los Angeles area who attended our first annual HOPE Leadership Summit in Buena Park, CA last Saturday. Maggie does a great job of really capturing the spirit of the event and highlighting some of the key takeaways of our first summit.

I thought I was waking up early to support my friends at an event they coordinated. I thought I was being a good wife to Danny by joining him at a summit he wanted to attend. I thought I’d have some quality time with great speakers and, perhaps, even learn a thing or two. But, I was wrong. It was much, much more. On Saturday, October 24th, we pulled up to St. Gregory’s American Coptic Orthodox Church to attend the First Annual Hope Leadership Summit.

Upon our arrival, a well-organized, hospitable team got us signed in, fed and caffeinated before the program began. I sat there, prayerfully wondering what would unfold on such a day. Announcements about the Summit promised to provide opportunities for building bridges, creating networking opportunities, equipping people and inspiring people to make a difference in whatever context they felt passionate about. Well,… three talks, one workshop and a lot of Chick-Fil-A later, and I can say that they definitely delivered on their promise! There were so many great concepts and paradigm shifts that came with the day. Among many, a few notable phrases include: “leave goodness for greatness,” “be a servant leader,” “shadow mission,” and “altar ego.” Ultimately, we gathered to redefine leadership.

 So, how do you define a leader? What leaders come to mind? Martin Luther King. Ghandi. Jesus. All great and well-known leaders, right? Who are some other great leaders? What about your father, little sister or 3rd grade math teacher? Why do we only think of the extraordinary examples? Through various, well-prepared talks we were encouraged to see that everyone has the ability to impact even one person in his/her life and, thus, is a leader in his/her own right.

 Unfortunately, so many of us have a warped understanding of leadership and (too often) measure leadership against secular (and sometimes, ungodly) standards.  Perhaps we have a skewed standard of what it means to have influence and use it for gain because we see what types of people advance in life. Perhaps we know what it means to be a good leader but it’s far too hard to go against the grain. For these reasons, I think redefining leadership was a critical first move for this gathering – not to mention a key value in the overall work of the Hope Association.

 Although there were so many great points to keep in mind, the most encouraging point for me was to remember that anyone can be an incredible leader in Christ - even our simple, un-famous, under-equipped selves. In fact, it is God’s desire and plan that we have seen over and over again to pull out His men and women from among the crowds to do incredible things for His Kingdom. So, the real question was: what do we feel called to lead in and why don’t we? As we worked through these pressing questions, in the process, we faced the issue of discouragement, connected across cultural and generational boundaries, and found the character of the leader in each of us. By God’s grace and the good work of the Hope Association, many were able to identify their leadership tasks at hand and left feeling more equipped and encouraged for the next phase of their call.

 In the end, this day was a perfect precursor (and teaser) to the upcoming Momentum Conference, titled “Made to Influence” which is bound to be as impactful as the previous events have been. As an ex-sceptic and attendee of the previous two conferences, I not only encourage those who are curious about this topic of leadership to attend but I urge you with the words from the description which put it perfectly and plainly, “Because our world needs us to come together and transform it.”