A Legacy of Stewarding Leaders
In our hyperactive, personality-based leadership environment, being in the front of the room with the mic in hand is the goal. Leaders want a place at the table so that their influence can grow as they share what they know.
But one of the most significant leaders in my life over the past 5 years I have served as CEO of Global Mapping International (GMI) was not usually at the front of the room. Instead, Dr. Kent Wilson, who passed away from complications with cancer on June 28, was a steward of leaders.
He was in his element when he was facilitating and coaching leaders to make their very best contribution. He made facilitation look easy; inserting just the right resources and asking the very timely questions. He also paid close attention to detail and never let a wayward thought go unchallenged. When you were in the room with Kent, you were excited because you knew he would bring out the best in you.
One of Kent’s major achievements before passing, was the publishing of his book “Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization.” This was the culmination of his doctoral work and his commitment to help bring the concept of stewardship into the realm of leadership material. But while this was his major intellectual achievement, I believe that his most important achievement in the final years of his life was working with the Christian Leadership Alliance to design and launch the Leader2Leader Peer Advisory Group Program.
That is where I really got to know Kent. I was a new CEO in an organization in transition and Kent’s stewardship, insight and generosity were one of the most critical supports of my development as a leader. His years of leadership experience, voracious appetite for learning and posture of empowering others created an environment where I could grow.
But I wasn’t the only one. Kent has impacted hundreds of people in his leadership roles and coaching/facilitating roles over the years.
“Kent possessed a trait in spades that is one that separates good leaders from great ones – he had a heart for people. Knowing how to blend good strategy and cultivate healthy human dynamics is an art, and Kent knew how to weave together the head and heart aspects of what we are called to do as leaders.”
Cheryl Wicks, Executive Director of Mosaic in Colorado Springs, said,
“Kent’s words of wisdom, encouragement, insight and knowledge of steward leadership has left an indelible mark on me. As I reflect on how my leadership has evolved and grown, Kent is at the center of it. I hope to make you (Kent) proud as we continue your legacy.”
We all have the opportunity to steward the resources God has put into our hands for His purposes. I pray that Kent’s life and service will inspire you to do just that!
Jon Hirst is the President & CEO of GMI (Global Mapping International). Jon has a background in mission innovation, publishing, and leadership. Jon is author of The Calling of the Knowledge Steward, co-author (with Marlene Legaspi-Munar) of Our Anchor in a World Adrift, co-author (with Mindy Hirst and Paul Hiebert) of Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions about Truth and co-editor (with Jim Reapsome) of Innovation in Mission.
Christian Leadership Alliance gives thanks for the life and legacy of Dr. Kent Wilson. His passion and commitment to investing in leaders touched our staff and the members we serve. Kent’s example as a steward of leaders changed the way we think, live and give.