When the Summit Sparked This Woman’s Leadership Gift Something Big Happened
Kathy Blakely has been on a journey of uncovering her leadership gift – a journey that has brought with it both highs and lows due to having her gift stifled, and great joy in discovering her calling and passion. Today, Kathy leads a thriving organization called The Big Give out of Ottawa, Canada, a ministry that provides outreach to the community through giving and sharing. She credits her success largely to the Summit, which helped her recognize her leadership gift, and pull her out of discouragement to embrace a dream for her community. Just when she felt like her ministry was over, God used the Summit to encourage her. “It is a very huge deal to me to be able to say that the GLS changed my life and continues to year after year.”
Kathy didn’t always know she was a leader. It wasn’t until she and her husband moved to Ottawa to pastor a church where she started to see herself for the leader God created her to be. “I started to develop my leadership skills in my 30s,” said Kathy. “I began to come out of my shell a bit and realized that God had been so gracious to me in giving me leadership skills that I didn’t really recognize in the past.” She first heard the concept of “great leadership” at the Global Leadership Summit, and was deeply intrigued, and began imagining what that would look like, and what it would mean to reach her community for Christ through outreach.
But after 12 years at this church, God called her husband elsewhere in ministry. Kathy would leave the church she loved and the leadership position behind her. “I went through about five years of discouragement – heart was broken. I realized I was called to leadership at a very, very young age, but it seemed I had nowhere to lead now. We started attending another church, but it was different.”
“We continued to go to the Summit, but I was so hurt that it was discouraging to listen to speakers talk about how I could change the world, but I felt I had no place to do so. I knew my leadership gifting hadn’t gone anywhere, but it was frustrating to feel like God had something more for me.”
God indeed had something more for Kathy. “Years have passed and healing has slowly taken place,” Kathy shares. “God has since given me many, many opportunities to be a leader. I now am blessed to lead a ministry here in Ottawa called The Big Give.”
The idea of Big Give came to me after I had led the outreach in 2009 at our local church. I felt the Lord was going to give me opportunity to do it on a much larger scale. The idea was to give everything away – a free garage sale but it became to be so much more. In 2009 we had tons of free items—fridges, stoves, dishwashers, furniture, clothing—everything you could imagine. We also gave away food, family photos, haircuts—tons of stuff.
“It was a dream of mine to take outreach citywide,” Kathy said. “I’m now leading a great group of pastors and church leaders in our city to make this dream come true. I also am so blessed to be able to do all of the outreaches my local church offers to the community. The church is growing! Even though I’m not on staff, I continue to attend every staff meeting and am able to present creative ideas and follow through on them as a volunteer.”
In 2014, a local ministry heard about Kathy’s dream to do The Big Give on a bigger scale in the community. They approached her about it and formed a committee. “Last June, 2015, we had our first massive Big Give with 52 churches from all over our city joining together on the same day to GIVE everything away to our city,” said Kathy. “It was incredible. Our dream this June is to have 100 churches join us—one day, one city, one statement: The church is a giving place!
“I am SO thankful for the Summit!” Kathy said. “My story is one of being faithful to your calling and not giving up when it gets rough. The Summit gave me creative ideas, and helped me discover and develop my leadership gift. The Summit is just exceptional! I was just a little pastor’s wife from Ottawa, Ontario who felt like her ministry was over. I believe in the Summit whether you attend on site or at another city. It changed and continues to changes me. It challenges me. It helps me see out of the church ‘box’ that we can so easily get caught into.”