Top Leadership Lessons Learned From Dr. Bill Bright

Twenty years ago today, the late Dr. Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade, graduated for eternity. It is hard to believe that two decades have passed since he departed for his eternal reward. With this 20th anniversary in mind, I want to share some leadership lessons that I personally learned from him. I hope these lessons will be enriching for you.

On a snowy February 18, 2001, at 2:30 in the afternoon, the Holy Spirit whispered to me to call the late Dr. Bill Bright. I immediately called while driving my car home in Springfield, Missouri. “This is James Davis,” I told Charlton, his assistant, “And this call is 8.7 out of 10 on the Richter scale.” Within an hour this distinguished leader called and asked, “James, what is in your heart?” I told him my burden for pastors worldwide. Through my evangelistic travels and ministry, I learned that more than ninety percent of all ministers worldwide have no formal education. Tens of thousands drop out of ministry each year, and nearly every week I was with another great pastor, listening to the challenges he faced.

One month with many days of fasting passed. In March of 2001 in San Bernardino, California, Dr. Bright and I met, and a vision was born. In August, we announced publicly for the first time before the Assemblies of God Presbytery that we were in partnership to help plant five million new churches for a Billion Soul harvest. That year we worked hard, building a network inspiring others to have eyes to the ends of the earth. We hosted a Beyond All Limits Pastors’ Conference (now called the Synergize Conference) in January 2002, with more than five thousand pastors attending from around the world. This conference convened just four months after the infamous World Trade Center disaster took place on September 11, 2001. We were told that no one would come. We were told that we should quit and turn around and go back. We were told that if we were to have this conference, in the context of what was going on in the world, we were sure to fail. I have met more people than I can remember, who have told me that they attended the Beyond All Limits Pastors Conference, and have said that it is one of the best pastors conferences of their life. Don’t let the doubters rob you of the dream that God has put in your heart!

On July 11, 2003, my wife Sheri, daughter Olivia, and I saw Dr. Bright for the last time in his Orlando condo. His body was weak, but his eyes were bright, and through gasps he admonished me to be faithful to the Lord and the vision. After we’d prayed together, I looked into his eyes for the last time and told this visionary leader that when I saw him next in heaven, I would testify that I was faithful to the vision and more than one billion people were saved during our generation. In November, 2019, the Global Church Network passed the goal of “five million new churches and a billion soul harvest. GCN has been moving forward for 4 more years toward another billion soul harvest. As of today, the total is:

Billion Soul® Harvest Statistics

The Billion Soul Harvest is alive and well. Billion Soul is a registered trademark with the United States Trademark Office. Just as, Global Church Network is a registered trademark. Every week local churches choose to become a Billion Soul Church.

The Global Church Network is all about the Billion Soul Harvest and Finishing the Great Commission. On the homepage of Global Church Network (, one can find the latest stats updated in real-time. This information is only shared so the history of the Billion Soul Harvest is not misconstrued or misrepresented.

I hope the five leadership lessons will enrich and encourage your life.


I heard Dr. Bright say, “Small dreams never Inflame the hearts of big people.” On one occasion, he said this visionary statement and then asked, Did you get it? Small dreams never inflame the hearts of big people.” He understood the ultimate goal in life. The ultimate goal is not to enlarge our organizations, but to finish the Great Commission. In other words, it is possible to grow an organization and still not impact the larger goal, the great commission. For decades, Dr. Bright signed his letters, “Helping to fulfill the Great Commission in this generation.”

If you were in a meeting with Dr. Bright, at some point he would ask “Is what we are planning going to help finish the Great Commission? If not, then we need to reassess what we are doing unless we are wasting our time and money.” One afternoon, Dr. Bright and I were discussing priorities and time management. He said, “For 50 years, I have measured my success based upon whether it helped me to complete the Great Commission. If it did not help me to get closer to finishing the assignment, I did not spend it, did not write, did not do it, unless I would be wasting my life on trivial “pursuits.” Wow! Is there any wonder why he accomplished so much in one lifetime?

Our heavenly Father has one Son and He desires a bride for His Son. The overarching purpose in this world is the wedding of His Son. Even though war may come, economies may collapse, and people may die, the overarching purpose remains intact every day. There is going to be a wedding for Christ and we are the bride!

We need to be aware of unclear goals. We cannot hit a target that we cannot see. When we launched the Billion Soul Harvest, we stated in 10 to 15 years, we hoped to achieve the goal. Dr. David Sobrepena states, “The goal is bigger than the role. Thus, we have a role in the goal.”

We need to be aware of unbalanced goals. Our Lord desires for us to have personal goals for every major category in our life.

We need to be aware of unworthy goals. There are some goals not worthy of our attention or energy. For example, the record for eating hotdogs is 76 in 10 minutes. This goal or record is not worthy of our attention or energy. So much in life is not worth our time, money, energy, or attention. We have to keep the main thing the main thing: the Great Commission.


Often Dr. Bright would talk about being a bondslave of Christ. No doubt, you have heard, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to climb Mount Everest said, “Nothing venture, nothing won.”

When does faith become true faith? Yes, faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Yet, there are countless number of Believers who have heard the Word of God, but are not living in faith. Faith becomes faith when we act on what God has asked us to do. For example, the Word of God came to Noah to build an ark. However, Noah had to get some nails and wood and start building the ark.

When does faith become true faith? Yes, faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Yet, there are countless number of Believers who have heard the Word of God, but are not living in faith. Faith becomes faith when we act on what God has asked us to do. For example, the Word of God came to Noah to build an ark. However, Noah had to get some nails and wood and start building the ark.

When Dr. Bright and I took the first step of faith together to launch an online training school in 2001, leaders told us that this would never work. I remember on one occasion, a person adamantly saying, “Dr. Bright, I am not for the launch of the online training school. This will never work and it is a waste of money.” I watched Dr. Bright, slam his fist on a board table and say, “We have always taken pride in being first. In the future, more ministers will be trained online than all of the seminaries, Bible colleges and universities combined.”

On another occasion, Dr. Bright and I were hosting breakfast meetings in his condo, downtown in Orlando. At one of the breakfast meetings a person looked at me, hoping to cause doubt in the others, and said, “As long as we live, people in Oceania will not have Internet.” My response to this person was, “When NASA launched its rocket to the moon, the leaders did not ask where the moon was, but where the moon would be when the rocket got there. We have just launched our online training rocket, but in time, everyone will have access to it.”

Today, the Global Church Divinity School ( has helped to train tens of thousands from around the world, including Oceania!


In the final year of Dr. Bright’s life on earth, there were times, we spent up to 30 to 40 hours per week, videotaping his books. He used to say to me, “The greatest treasure in the world is found in the cemeteries. People died with the wisdom and knowledge in them. I want to die empty.” Even though he had pulmonary fibrosis, he would gain enough strength to videotape. He had a vision to help the upcoming generation to go further than he ever did.

After one of these videotaping sessions, while we were boxing up all of the video equipment, Dr. Bright rolled his wheelchair toward an unsaved videographer and began sharing Christ with him. I saw him gradually back this young man into a corner, where he could share the Four Spiritual Laws!

I remember calling him one morning. He said, “The most important meeting of the day is at 11:00am.” I said, “What is happening at 11:00am? He said, “There is a person coming to my home to cut my hair. I will have 30 minutes to share Christ with the person cutting my hair!

It was Dr. Bright’s common practice to call people, who could not do anything for him, to pray for them and ask the Lord to touch them. I heard him share testimonies of people who had been healed by God.

Dr. Bright was determined to share the values of the Kingdom of God with as many people as possible. On his 80th birthday, October 19, 2002, we hosted an incredible event at the Orlando Airport Hyatt Hotel. More than 800 distinguished leaders joined us in the ballroom. In addition to the on-ground audience, we had thousands to join us online. After we launched the network in January 2002, by the time we got to his 80th birthday, we were streaming to 114 nations. We were fortunate to have Christian leaders to join us in Macau, China. This is the first time I have ever shared this picture. Notice it carefully. Dr. Bright is speaking on the Four Spiritual Laws and leaders were showing via Internet on the wall, in an undisclosed location! Since the beginning of this network, we have been training online and producing WorldCasts for Christian leaders to be trained to help fulfill the Great Commission.

I am humbled to share that over the last twenty plus years, the Global Church Network has grown from two people to more than 2700 different denominations and organizations and more than 700,000 local churches. We are currently growing so fast; our team is finding it hard to keep up. Here is a summary of the growth:


Dr. Bill Bright was one of the most disciplined Christian leaders I have ever known. I first met Dr. Bright in 1996, at a Prayer & Fast Conference he was hosting in Houston, Texas. I flew to the Prayer & Fast Conference with Dr. Thomas Trask, Former General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Upon our arrival, I said to Dr. Trask, “I will find me a place to pray.” But Dr. Trask was insistent that I come with him. He and I walked to the front and sat in a prayer circle. In this prayer circle, was Dr. Adrian Rogers, Dr. Chuck Colson, Dr. Bill Bright and their respective wives. Later Dr. Bright said to me, “When you walked into our prayer circle, the Holy Spirit whispered, ‘You will work with this person in the future.”

In the fall of 1998, Dr. Bright was one of our keynote speakers at ChurchQuake 98. Each year, I was fortunate to host a national evangelists conference. We were so honored to have Dr. & Mrs. Bright to join us. When they came to the conference, they stayed the entire time. They did not come just for his speaking time, but came to learn and to enjoy getting to make new friends.

In the spring of 2003, Dr. Bright was on day 27 of a 40 day fast. It was his tradition to end his fast on Good Friday each year. On the 27th day, I called him and said,”I am so very concerned for you. I have noticed how weak you are due to the pulmonary fibrosis. Please consider bringing your fast to a close.” His respond was, “I cannot think of a better way to go out, than on a 40 day fast!” Once again, he was enlarging God’s voice in his life.

In early July, 2003, Dr. Bright was hosting a nationwide conference call with Christian leaders. We were spending time praying for each other and for Dr. Bright. Dr. Adrian Rogers said to him, “Bill, please tell everyone who called you last night.” When Dr. Bright did not respond right away, Dr. Rogers said, “Please share that President Bush called you to check on you and to have prayer with you.”

Dr. Bright responded, “Adrian, you know how focused I have been this year. I began this year with 15 books needing to be completed. I completed all those books. I had in my heart to videotape and to die empty. I completed all the videotapes. For more than 50 years I have taught countless people about the greatness of God. I have prayed to Him, but have never seen Him. I am now getting ready to meet God face-to-face, to hear His auditable voice for the first time. When you are getting ready to meet the King of the Universe, even getting a phone call from the President, is not that big of a deal.”


I can truly write that Dr. Bright lived the victorious Christian life. When we would be sitting in his home, in the middle of terrible thunderstorm, Dr. Bright would say, “Listen to that thunder. It signifies the power of God.” He truly believe that nothing is too big for God. If you have not read his autobiography, “Amazing Faith,” I encourage you to do so.

In the summer of 2002, on a Saturday, I was driving a car from Indianapolis to Terre Haute, Indiana. While I was driving, Dr. Bright gave a me call. Every time I answered his call, he would say, “You got a few minutes? I would say, “I always have minutes for you.” While driving that afternoon, he shared a powerful personal story. He began by saying, “James, please always remember, you cannot out give God.” Then, he followed that statement with this story:

When I was 65 years old, one morning during my prayer time in Birmingham, Alabama, the Lord impressed upon my heart to give my entire pension to help start a training center in Ukraine. As a ministry, we had invested millions of dollars into Russia, but the Lord wanted me to decide what I was to give. Upon further prayer, I decided to give my entire pension. My entire pension was not very large, but it was my ‘widow’s mite.’ It represented my best gift. 

Then, when you came to see me at Arrowhead Springs, in Southern California, you did not know how sick I really was. After our initial meeting that day, I arranged for a businessman to fly us home on his private plane. I was concerned that I might have to be flown home in a box on a commercial aircraft. 

Once I arrived home, another business friend was there to meet me. He said, “I know Dr. Bright you have gone all of the high priests of medicine, trying to find healing for pulmonary fibrosis. Yet, I have met a doctor, who specializes in pulmonary diseases. I believe you should meet her.”

So, I agreed to meet her. She has become a personal physician for me. Today, James, I am sitting in a specialized oxygen tent designed by this doctor. She has me breathing this incredible, healing air filled with special ointments she has patented. The reason I wanted to call you is because she is from the Ukraine. After the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl took place, she treated patients with her patented remedies and saw huge healing take place. 

Then, it dawned on me that more than 15 years ago, I sowed my entire pension into the area where she is from. The Lord took my widow’s mite and has brought to me a specialized doctor to help me with exactly what I need at this time. She has just moved from the Ukraine to Orlando. She now lives with us. She only has one patient and it is me. When you and I decided to launch a network for pastors, the Lord knew I would need the time and strength to get it off the ground. What I want you to always remember is that you cannot out give God. He will never fail you!

As we pause and ponder leadership lessons learned, I will always be grateful to have walked and talked with the late Dr. Bright in his twilight years. During his funeral service at Orlando First Baptist, I was privileged to read Scripture. I will never forget the words of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, at his beloved friend’s funeral. He said, Dr. Bright taught three amazing things: 1) He taught me how to lead. I was praying for my church to grow, while Dr. Bright was praying for the world; and, 2) He taught me how to live. He lived the victorious Christian life; and, 3) He taught me how to leave. He knew his life was coming to a close on this earth. He was looking forward to meeting Jesus!

I encourage you today to Embrace God’s Vision, Enlist In God’s Venture, Expand God’s Values, Enlarge God’s Voice and Enter Into God’s Victory.