When a Stepmom attends The Global Leadership Summit

I had the incredible opportunity to attend Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit this week. It is a two day event hosted by the South Barrington, IL church and simulcast across the world. I attended at a site location near me. We had the privilege to hear speakers like Melinda Gates, John Maxwell, TD Jakes, and many more. Needless to say, it is impressive. The Summit is geared towards business and church leaders. It provides tools and vision to go out and change the world.

I am a stepmom and starting my tenth season as a homemaker. I can hear you asking, “Emily, what were you doing at GLS?” I was there watering a little seed that has been planted by God. In 2013, a little Facebook group for Christian stepmoms needed a leader. I felt a little nudge in my heart telling me, Hey! You could do that. Stepmoms need this little place. And the journey of The Joyful Stepmom began. We’ve grown well beyond those first days and a larger vision is taking shape. I attended GLS to educate myself on being the leader this little seed needs. How do we cast the vision? When we see something taking shape, how do we make it happen? It was a thrilling and overwhelming two days. To say it will have an impact is probably an understatement.
I know many people attend GLS every year, maybe this is just a normal conference to some business leaders. To me, this was a big deal. On the calendar in bold, prep my outfit and have a special journal for taking notes kind of big deal. I came away with new information, confidence in areas I was fumbling, and pages upon pages of notes. I know the following days and months will show change and clearer vision in my ministry. 
​Here is something I wasn’t expecting. On the second day, Horst Schulze of Ritz Carlton spoke. He is an accomplished business man and his personality of humor and caring came through his lecture. As I started taking a few notes on his business practices, I realized this not only applies to business but also to Home Management. We’ve all seen the Home Management Binders on Pinterest. The idea of looking at home life as something to manage or lead makes perfect sense. We manage finances and budgets, manage facilities, manage people, manage input and output, etc. As a stepmom, I am part of a two home family, so the management list gets a little more complex. Instead of just “managing,” what if we were to lead? And lead well!

I looked back over my notes from the other speakers and began to apply the business and leadership principles to the Home. Here are some takeaways as they may apply to leading in your home.

Alan Mulally of Boeing and Ford said leaders need to have one clear plan and everyone needs to know the plan (my summary). I see a clear application to the home and family, especially in a stepfamily! In order to function at full steam, you have to have a plan. And all parents (leaders) have to know what that is and be on board.

Melinda Gates: Did you know she takes time every day for spiritual practice and to be silent. Silent! Stepmoms, we talk so much about self care. If Melinda Gates can make time for it and knows how important this is, let’s all take note!

Travis Bradbury is the author of Emotional IQ and spoke about the importance of our emotional health and awareness. Emotions running rampant in stepfamilies? Sounds familiar to me! Take care of yourself and your people. Lead well with your emotions. Travis urges leaders to control stress, get sleep, and watch our caffeine. I may be the worst student he’s ever had! I’m a terrible sleeper, was currently holding my second coffee of the day while he was speaking. Stepfamilies and stress are best friends. Take a moment to account for the emotional health of your family and take action to account for areas of weakness.

Danielle Strickland of the Salvation Army spoke with such a heart and passion for Jesus. She was just captivating! My takeaway from her lecture was to not just lead, but be a spiritual leader. Oh my dear stepmom sisters, I know many of us are longing for this and crying out for it in our homes. Surround your family with good people, seek out other leaders who will inspire you and your husband. Pray for a heart of spiritual leadership.

The GLS is not a two day event where you go home and say “Wasn’t that nice?” and return to your everyday life. It’s a game changer. The speakers I heard will have a lasting impact in the months to come. I’m already looking forward to next year.





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