Today at the Action Institute I attended excellent presentations on a range of topics, from evangelical environmental and social ethics to the challenges of globalization and the need for ethical entrepreneurship as one key to liberating persons from poverty. The insights and principles were important and well-stated and I will be using this knowledge immediately in classes and communication.
What made today even more interesting was the amazing variety of people I conversed with, all of whom share a passion for integrating Christian faith with economic freedom and social justice. In the last 24 hours, I have met:
A Bolivian teacher and writer who is a devout Catholic with a deep respect for Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. He loves God, his Church and is writing on some of the recent works of Pope Benedict. We had a delightful dinner conversation and the future of Bolivia is brighter because of his presence.
An Italian graduate student in philosophy who is passionate about clear thinking , virtuous living and seeing people use their God-given reason to create new solutions for current challenges.
A business owner who (actually) manufactures his products in Kansas. He is enthusiastic about seeing his work as a mission and service to the world.
A high-tech entrepreneur who was a member of the Swiss Guard protecting Pope John Paul II. His presentation and Acton's new initiative, "Poverty Cure," offer concrete solutions to world poverty. Prosperous nations have poured more than $2 trillion into the developing nations since WWII, with little long-term success.
An American Protestant seminary professor who is writing on ethics and global business and mentoring one of my former students.
A woman pioneering a new private school.
Leaders and thinkers from Anglican, Baptist, Congregational,Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic and non-denominational traditions.
I have met Black Republicans, Latina conservatives, Anglo semi-libertarians, Asian business leaders and Canadian scholars. No one is a slave to any extreme ideology or party politics. All these leaders were of one voice on the issues of honoring life from conception to coronation and preserving and enhancing traditional marriage. There is a remarkable absence of cliches. Instead, everyone is rolling up their sleeves and anxious to imagine and implement principled solutions to our economic, political and spiritual challenges.
In addition to this mosaic of personalities, I overheard intelligent conversations about faith and freedom and the utter necessity of virtue for a democratic society. Everyone is respectful of our national leaders, but the overall consensus is that our current crises stem from a combination of bad decisions, greed, governmental ineptitude and the spiritual poverty of our age.
As the dinner ended, our keynote speaker, C. William Pollard, former CEO of ServiceMaster, spoke on the "Awesome Responsibility of Leadership." His address was timeless and timely, full of enduring ideas and up-to-date insights from the front lines. One compelling notion for all Christian leaders to remember is that God expects a return on His investment in us. This return is not just about generating monetary wealth, but the ways we improved the lives of the people we led and loved.
I am a richer and wiser man, made better by "pursuing truth in the company of friends."