Global Leadership Summit: Bill Hybels

billhybels_150Over the last decade or so, I have greatly enjoyed watching Bill Hybels as he has evolved in his leadership. It has been fun to watch as he has grown, and changed… especially over the last couple of years. Now that Bill has gotten a little older, he has evolved into the stage of being “cranky uncle Bill.” As the descendant of a long and distinguished line of cantankerous old men, I greatly appreciate this evolution, as it seems that he no longer cares if he offends people when he calls them out. This is a behavior that the church needs more of.

Bill’s session centered around Joshua 1:9:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Throughout the conversation he repeatedly called on leaders to be courageous… especially in four specific areas:

Courageous Leaders move people from here to there:

Far too often in the church world, leaders quietly abort the visions that God has given them because they are unwilling to take the risk needed in order to see it through. These are visions to end hunger, human trafficking, starting churches, changing churches, and things we have never imagined. These visions are not only never realized, they are never shared… to the detriment of the entire world.

Bill threw down the gauntlet, challenging us to live out what Joshua 1:9 says: step up and pursue the calling that God has given you… or at least admit that you don’t have the courage required to do so.

Courageous Leaders are honest about their situation:

Every organization is declining, increasing, or has plateaued, and we are called to lead through that situation:

  • Leaders of declining organizations need to declare an emergency and rally the troops to change the situation
  • Plateaued organizations need leaders who will create a crisis to jump start a sleepy organization entrenched in the status quo.
  • Increasing organizations need leaders who will pour more fuel on the fire.

Having the courage to honestly admit where your organization is takes guts, but you need to do it if you are going to reverse, or continue, the current trend. Bill pushed pretty hard on the fact that we have to be willing to be ruthlessly courageous about where your organization is, and regardless of whether you are willing to admit where you stand… your team is fully aware of your organization’s status. 

Courageous Leaders create a healthy culture:

This can be one of our toughest challenges because it requires us to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves, and admit some of our own shortcomings. We need to be open to an honest evaluation of our current organizational culture, and own our piece of it (for good or for bad). Bill told us that when he started to embrace this concept he started with several sincere apologies to his team, followed by a season of figuring out who was a culture builder, and who was a culture buster within the organization. Once identified, culture busters were encouraged to leave.

Hybels ended this part of his talk by reminding us that if the senior leader does not embrace the establishment of a healthy organizational culture, no one in the organization will. He then asked two questions:

  • How healthy is your culture?
  • If you are not willing to ask that question, will you admit that it is because you lack the courage to do so?

Leaders need courage to champion and enforce organizational standards:

This was a pretty significant part of the talk for me. Bill basically called us all out for being dreamers and not doers. Saying “There is a time to cast vision, and a time to establish an inviolable value for an organization.” In other words, we can cast vision all we want, but we need to do something with that vision. At some point we need to move from “this is where we are headed” to “this is who we are.” Embracing these values requires us to hold people accountable for these values.

The tough part of this is that it requires us to be willing to lose people in order to protect the value.


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

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  • Gregg Peter Farah

    Oh my! This is simply incredible. I’m so motivated I might explode. Thanks for this summary. If I heard it live I may actually have exploded. (Not sure my life insurance covers that)