Bill Hybels has long been a blessing to me. His passion for the local church is apparent every single time his speaks. His heart for the lost is infectious. His desire to teach and train Romans 12 leaders is challenging, pervasive, and beneficial.
Annually the Willow Creek Association presents the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. It is hosted Barrington, ILL, broadcast by satellite to locals all over the United States, and ultimately to dozens of countries around the world. The “faculty” consists of top business, social, religious leaders from across America.
Please note: These are not all direct quotes. Some are paraphrased. More bloggers are linked at the bottom.
Luke 8- The Parable of the Sower [used as a leadership lesson, not a sermon]
The message is still true regardless of how many people reject it.
I actually believe that everyone’s life would be better if God was at the center of it. Using the idea of “fruit,” I’d love to see more “trees” at Willow Creek. But, if I want to see more trees I should plant more seed. If there is a 75% rejection ratio, I should just plant more seeds.
[If you are a small church pastor who has ever been frustrated because you feel like people do not see you, Hybels just related a story of a neighbor who lives close enough to the Willow campus to lose his cat, yet had not idea Willow was a church. He thought it was a college. This was in spite of the fact that each entrance has signs.]
Willow has recently used the Alpha Course as part of sowing more seed.
The whole organization takes its “seed sowing cues” from you. If you sow the same amount of seed, your “tree count” will go down over time, as will the morale of your organization.
“Entropy will not occur on my watch.” Leaders must fight it off with every fiber of our being.
We must insist on a non-stop series of experiments that keep people engaged.
Everyone wins when a leaders gets better.
Sow more seed. Transformed lives for eternity are worth it.
A certain set of skills are needed to lead people who are under your care. A different set to lead laterally, and yet another set to lead up to those above you.
“You” are the most difficult person you will ever lead.
Time is not the most important leadership asset. The most valuable asset is their energy and their ability to energize other people, projects, cultures, etc.
“Between now and the end of the year, what are the most important half-dozen things I can do for the church you and I love so much?” [This alone is a question most pastors and church leaders never ask.]
He wrote down the “six challenges in six weeks” as “6×6” on an index card. No one can sprint for six months, but all leaders can sprint for 6 weeks. Not the six things I most feel like doing, but the six that will most impact your organization.
This brought tremendous focus to both effort and prayer.
After two rounds of 6×6 Hybels changed his daily schedule to flow from his 6×6 strategy. Hybels describes using “energy bursts” to work on these particular projects.
The 6×6 initiatives are above and beyond regular job descriptions.
Hybels’ current 6×6 list [I got 5 of them]:
1. Finalize weekend series from Proverbs beginning in Sept
2. Recruit leader teacher for a key department
3. How to fund a new evangelism strategy from budget
4. Launch a planned giving program for long-time Willow members
6. How to raise $2M by year end for an evangelism strategy
Presidents and CEOs cycle through 5-7 years. It seems to be the easiest since it happens so often. This is not so in the mega-churches, where the pastors tend to have been there for decades.
in 1950 there were about 3 mega-churches. Now there are thousands worldwide. The whole world is about to have a front row seat to these transitions. Some will be pretty, some will be ugly, but it will be interesting.
Great conversation with an elder, taking more than a full year, about approaching transitions of leadership in mega-churches.
1. Planning phase. Every important subject matter must be surfaced. Whose job is it to chose the successor? What is the time frame? How will the church honor the pastor and his wife? More than 30 such questions have to be considered. This time should not be rushed.
2. Consider an internal person for the successor. If there is not one…
3. Consider an external candidate.
4. Actual transition itself. This is when the successor is identified, responsibilities are increased, until fully installed. This process should take about 18 or so months.
Hybels then joked about being put on an ice flow and pushed out into the North Sea.
This kind of plan makes him feel more secure about the future of Willow after he “retires.” Board members you must understand how deep feelings run in the hearts of senior or founding pastors. Do not assign a person with low emotional intelligence to lead the conversations.
Senior pastors, when you are in your late 50s or early 60s your legacy should be your concern for the future of the church rather than your legacy. You should move heaven and earth to make sure your church is better suited for the future after you leave.
Vision casting: Do not build the case for “there,” until you demonstrate why is it unconscionable to stay “here.” Until your people are completely dissatisfied with “here” they will not be sold on going “there.”
When is the vision most vulnerable? Early, middle or end? Vision is most vulnerable in the middle. The beginning has enthusiasm. When the end is in site there is motivation to finish. The middle is the most difficult time to maintain focus and energy.
Hybels asks, “In my own ministry when was it most difficult?” It was the middle. The middle section of leadership is when we are most vulnerable. “In the middle, I found out I wasn’t invincible and I could not see the finish line first.”
Only a very small part of the human race get to lead stuff. Leadership is a privilege.
Thanks to my dad, Harold Hybels, I got graduate level leadership training at the dinner table. Thanks, God.
The “price” of leadership comes with the territory.
Enjoy every single day you get to lead, because it will be over with in a blink.