Conversations With Christian Leaders

22 Nov 2013 by Jason Law CM –


Besides learning lessons of leadership in the recent GLS event in Malaysia, participants also get to listen to some life-testimonies and leadership principles that have guided top Christian leaders throughout their life. For 2013’s conference, the leaders interviewed by Bill Hybels were Colin Powell, Mark Burnett, and Bob Goff.


Colin Powell: Former Secretary of State for the United States


Colin Powell, GLS 2013


The leading principle in Colin Powell’s leadership is leadership with vision rises above science of management. This involves the ability to inspire people and change lives. Followers get things done; they’re important. General Powell reminded us that leaders need to give purpose to their followers and there’s no such thing as unimportant people. It is the purposes and drive of followers that prop up and give purpose to leaders. Powell’s advice in leadership is to always get people we can trust in, and who can trust in us, and always empower them by taking risks and initiatives. He taught that trust is the glue that keep things going and the lubricant that keeps it moving forward. All great leaders have collective themes that drives the whole organisation as one body.

Sharing his life experiences, Colin Powell shared that most followers always want to be seen as humans. In one conversation with a soldier injured on duty, General Powell shared that instead of feeling sorry for the soldier, and making that soldier feel sorry for himself, he instead tried to find out more about the soldier’s life. Followers need to be treated as humans, and not as cogs in a machine. Always invest your interest in their lives, and always contextualize.


Colin Powell (right) sharing about his life experiences
Colin Powell (right) sharing about his life experiences


Powell also shared about his struggle against racism and segregation, a great challenge in our nation today. He shared how he overcame this as encouragement to any of us who have this face this challenge on a daily level. When he was first chosen as brigade commander, not every soldier found that appointment acceptable. Many saw him as a ‘black man’ not as a brigade commander. Powell took this as a challenge and a responsibility to cross barriers, both across and upwards. He took the opportunity and responded with confidence.  Many proverbs had guided General Powell throughout his life, many of which he has used as chapter titles in his autobiography ‘It Worked For Me’.

General Powell shared that God had taught him through the blessings in his life that it is incumbent to follow Jesus’ footsteps and use the blessings to bring others up. In response to this, he has initiated a ministry to help minority kids. His exhortation to Christian leaders is to make our faith relevant and apply that relevancy, to challenge people, and that things get done through challenges.   


Mark Burnett: The Executive Producer of The Bible series


Mark Burnett (right) at GLS 2013
Mark Burnett (right) at GLS 2013


Mark Burnett is the executive producer of many hit TV series such as Survivor, The Voice, and most recently, The Bible series. He shared his experience of how he started with nothing and overcame challenges throughout his life. One of the challenges he faced was overcoming opposition to his Bible series. He shared that initially, not many studios were open to the risk of taking the project up. Studio executives were worried about the reception of the series, and that it wasn’t a viable production commercially.

Burnett also shared some practical advice from his work in the Arts industry. He said that dreams are important, but we must dream within context of reality. We must be responsible for every choice we take. Maximize whatever budget is given to us and be aggressive. He pointed out that making a Christian production is not an excuse to make it crappy. Christians working in the Arts and Media Industry have a great responsibility and influence to change the world, either for good or bad.


Mark Burnett
Mark Burnett


Burnett shared that despite opposition, he stuck with his vision because he felt it was a calling from God. Today, the series has reached a viewership of 100-million people. It topped the watch-list in many countries during its run, and in one country, was beaten only by The Ten Commandments. In today’s lonely and broken world, people are hungry to know more about Christianity and God.

Mark Burnett’s advice is to find time to listen to God. He shared that what made America progressed remarkably was that it was built on the hope and message of the Bible. Many nations of the world today, including Malaysia, were founded on the idea of a belief in God.  He also encouraged Christians not to bow to conventional wisdom, and that people of influence should bring about opportunities for others to share about Jesus, the Gospel, and the Bible.


Bob Goff: Author of the Best-sellingLove Does


Bob Goff
Bob Goff


Bob Goff may not be as well-known as Colin Powell or Mark Burnett, but he is a legend within his own circle of fans, many of which came to first know him from Donald Miller’s best-selling ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’. His book ‘Love Does’ entered the New York Times bestseller list, and has a huge response on He leads the kind of life that only seems to happen in inspirational Hallmark movies, except they happened in real-life.

Among the experiences in his life, according to the book blurb on ‘Love Does’:

As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren't good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.



Bob shared that the only thing that makes all the difference in his life, is that he accepted the call found in Ephesians 4 and acted them out. He shared that many people restrict themselves from the remarkable things God wants to do in their lives, because of fear. A symbol that Bob has taken in his life is the Interrobang. This is a punctuation mark combining the question mark and exclamation mark. Bob takes the mark as a reminder that times of doubt and struggle often hold within them the remarkable things of God, which He wants to train or teach us in. We must learn to say ‘yes’ to the leading of God. The call of his message was ‘Love Takes Action’ which means that Love is not a noun. Genuine Love requires us to act on it.  

The Global Leadership Summit held in Seremban was a great time for many participants. We got to watch great performances by Christian artists, receive lessons of leadership from top global leaders, and be encouraged through the sharing of influential Christians.


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