Leadership Summit - Jimmy Carter

CarterJimmy Carter has done more since retiring from the office of president than most people accomplish in a lifetime. The author of more than 20 books, he is recognized worldwide for his leading work in conflict resolution, diplomacy, and humanitarian work. Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is founder of The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, which works to promote peace, health, and human rights across the globe. A Sunday school teacher at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are also well known as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Among his many books is An Hour Before Daylight, in which he recounts his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm before the civil rights movement.

“Building Humanity”

  • When he told his mother that he was running for president, she ask, “President of what?”
  • What’s your leadership style? Engineer.
  • Transformation through careers: Same character and principles in every career but dedication to learning
  • Playboy interview: Popularity dropped 10% in one week
  • What do you look for in inner circle people: Integrity; overall compatibility with basic principles, loyal to the things he wants to do but know more than he knows about making it happen; values people disagreeing and putting ideas on the table.
  • Hybels: Leaders learn when they commit themselves to a course of action (whether it works or not)
  • Carter’s dad entrusted him with great challenges as a child: At five years old carried on a business picking, processing and selling peanuts; bought rental homes and collected rent from 12 years old until went to the Navy.
  • Best day: peace treaty
  • Worst day: failed attempt to rescue hostages; hostage situation was worse year of his life.
  • His loss: split in democratic party and election day on the anniversary of the hostage taking; helping family and friends through the loss helped him deal with it; felt like a kick in the stomach
  • Teaches Sunday school every week; about 30 members in the class; town of about 600; “you might say we haven’t gotten far in life”
  • Grew up only with playmates that were black; aside from his family biggest influences on his life were black
  • As a child would hear sermons that suggested white people were superior; in the Navy was still segregated until Truman ordained that it was over by decree
  • Does it bother you when people say you’re the greatest ex-president? “Many who say that are trying to genuinely give me a complement.”
  • Twenty-four years has spent one week building a home; the church hasn’t done well at crossing the chasm between those that have and those that don’t
  • Has been struck by the depth of poverty still in the world in recent years, places like Liberia (where my wife was born) where most people make 50 cents a day. Carter Center tries to fill the void where other organizations aren’t working.
  • Never has gone on the lecture circuit or joined a corporate board but focused on Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity
  • Extreme poverty and the chasm is the greatest challenge our world will face in coming years; we build a cocoon around ourselves and that’s natural, but most of us have in our religious faith that we break down that barrier but it’s hard to do and Habitat is one of the best ways to do that; discovered that (without exaggeration) many are just as smart, committed to family values, etc.
  • His wish is that Washington would be the biggest champion of peace and human rights and that people would want to go there to get help to do those things
  • Don’t be timid and get apply the root teachings of Christ, unchanging principles, the words and actions of our Savior Jesus Christ who never changes

Hybels' reflections:

  • We don't pray enough for peace
  • Carter's humility and gentleness
  • Grace in defeat - could have been a bitter, angry old man but instead dedicated to giving his life in humble service to Christ