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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Bill Hybels

Leader to Leader - Jack Welch


Candor:  Walsh is one who deeply values candor, honesty, and authenticity.  One thing that was helpful here was that Walsh said something like, "Let's not waste time having meetings to decide what we're going to say.  We're just going to say what we believe."

Differentiation:  At GM, employees were divided into the top 20%, the vital 70%, and then the 10% who needed to have something done with them immediately.  You can't have a differentiating organization without having candor at the core of the organization.  People need to know how they are doing, what to change, and where they stand.  Walsh would say that this is not a heartless approach to people.  In fact, he would say it's the most compassionate because everyone knows where they stand.

  • Top "A" people, or the 20% are filled with energy, they are likeable and infections, they're good people, and they love to see people grow.  They aren't afraid to have great people around them.  They're not mean-spirited or envious, but have a generosity of spirit.
  • The Vital 70%, or "B" people are hard-working, but not necessarily as gifted as other people.
  • The Lower 10% are not energetic, acidic, a pain in the "arm", negative, boss-haters, disrupters, wet-blankets, antagonists.

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Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Opening Session


Bill Hybels had a great opening session.  He started with a simple leadership principle from his journal:  Leaders move people from here to there.  It's not anything new.  It's the vision piece, the picture of the preferred future.  It's the thing you get excited about and say, "It will be bliss on a stick when we get there."  It was a really helpful reminder that "The first play is not to make there sound wonderful.  It's to make here sound awful."  That the preferred future begins with a "holy discontent" as Hybels has said in the past.

"Long before MLK gave his "I have a dream speech," he gave hundreds of "We Can't Stay Here" speeches."

He used some great examples, including moving Willow's food pantry onsite:  "Imagine if at the end of our weekend services... I could say, go right over there and we'll give you groceries for the week."  The reality is, though, that there are many people who say, "there, shmere, what's wrong with here?"  They don't want to move.  Hybels has given a number of good talks (I have several in my own journals) on the change process and important steps along the way, and this is another.

One of the other important pieces of leadership is hiring fantastic people.  Bill reminded us that hiring fantastic people requires Character, Competence, Chemistry (cf. Bill's book Axiom).  He added a new C, that he calls Culture.  Understanding the culture of the organization and the culture of leadership is key to moving from here to there, and is as important at Character, Competence, and Chemistry.

I love Hybels focus on his staff.  Here are a couple thing he said:

"We don't offer potential staff persons a tidy career opportunity, we offer them a mission they can lay their lives down for."

"Building teams of fantastic people who fit our culture is one of the joys of leadership."

"Do you view the assembling of fantastic people as a privilege, as a leadership essential?"

He also said that there are usually 3 reactions when a person resigns.  Bill invited us to imagine that as we sit here we get a text from someone or an email saying they've resigned.  Here are the 3 normal reactions:

  • Phew
  • Aaugh... I feel bad about that, but we're going to be ok.
  • Read the text.  Read it again.  Run into the lobby and vomit because you've lost someone who feels irreplacable.

I love the questions that arise out of this for any leader:  what would be your reaction for each person on your staff?  Do you have a staff that you would be in the 3rd category for every single one?  Which of the 3 reactions would your boss have if he or she received the text from you?

So, if you do have some of these fantastic people, how to keep them on your staff, excited, passionate, and engaged?  Here are some things Bill suggested:

  • Regularly refill the vision bucket.  With his typical phrase, "vision leaks," Bill reminded us again that we have to continue to refill the vision bucket with our staff.
  • Put mile markers along the way, and celebrate.  What keeps people on the journey is a sense of hope that they're going to get there someday.  And it's important to celebrate along the way, not just at the end, even if you have to make up mile-markers.  When is the last time you had a party for progress along the way, not just the destination?

The last thing Bill talked about was hearing from God.  He passionately talked about the whispers of God in his own call to faith, to plant a church, and to serve other pastors.  He spoke about hearing from God through the word, lowering the ambient noise, repairing our antennas, and listening and obeying the whispers deep in our hearts.  Bill was right on when he said, "I don't think you get from here to there without hearing from God in the process."  This gets at, in my opinion, one of the great failures of many of us who are leaders.  Too often we merely see the picture of the preferred future in the beginning, but we don't listen to God and his ever-present whispers along the way.  Too often, the initial picture is fuzzy and we don't fully understand it, and God continues to lead all the way to the end, all long the way.

Some Whispers:

  • Step Up
  • Take the Risk
  • Stand Firm
  • Start a Church
  • Apologize Now
  • Admit Your Mistake
  • Make The Tough Decision
  • Get Help
  • Stop Running From God
  • Slow Down (for some of us, velocity is killing our soul)
  • Show Your Heart
  • Let Others Lead
  • Feed Your Soul
  • Bless The Team
  • Make the Ask (some of you know here "there" is, but you're just chicken to make the ask)  Courageous
  • Do Something Impactful (some of you have been pounding the same nail your whole life)
  • Come Clean
  • Embody the Vision
  • Celebrate the Victories
  • Speak the Truth
  • Pay the Price
  • Count Your Blessings
  • End the Secret
  • Check Your Motives
  • Set the Pace
  • Give God Your Best
  • Get Physically Fit
  • Serve Your Spouse and Kids
  • Pray
  • Humble Yourselve

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Summit: Session 9


from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 9, Bill Hybels, Relentless Mother Teresa: God's radar located Mother Teresa's carte blanche yieldedness, or willingness and openness to Him.  She was committed to...

  • Little practices of love
  • Little sacrifices
  • Little fidelities to Scripture

Sobering Question:  If you were God, would you pick you for additional opportunities to make a difference in the world? Sobering Question:  If in the next 15 minutes, God called you to serve the poor and destitute in Calcutta for the rest of your life, how would you respond? Sobering Question:  What do you do when God taps you on the shoulder and asks you to step up?

Mother Teresa's response was elation and carte blanche yieldedness.

There is a direct correlation between carte blanche yieldedness, white flag surrender and receiving a fresh assignment from God.

Some people take the assignment God's given and put it on a scale and weight out what's on the other side (comfort, security, money, fame, ego) and the scales tip... just not God's way.  Don't let that be your story.  Don't every extinguish the new thing that God is trying to do in the world through you.  Refuse God nothing... you will never regret it.

When you are so enflamed with the excitement, there is usually a phase of time that is brutally difficult and in which there are many obstacles in the way.  This is a purifying time for the leader because it causes the person to deal with a bunch of questions:  How much am I willing to sacrifice?  Do I really believe that God has the power to do this?  This is the waiting period of dream-fulfillment, a time of frustration, but of important formation.

When a leader reaches the kind of clarity about the singularity of their heart for what God has called them to, God will often open up the doors.  Outlast the opposition. Be relentless.  God will release you into what he's called you into.

How bad do you want it?  How serious is your calling?

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Summit: Session 1


from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 1, Bill Hybels, The High Drama of Decision Making Bill Hybels kicked off the Summit again with a talk on leadership.  He shared a formula that many leaders make/ should make when they make difficult decisions.  Here are the steps - what Bill said are really nothing new.  These are steps that leaders go through as they think about a decision:

  1. What would/ does the Bible say?
  2. What would/ do good advisors say?
  3. What does your experience tell you?  (the pains of poor decisions, the gains of good decisions)  He encouraged leaders to chronicle your decision-making process as well as the results of those decisions.
  4. Is the Holy Spirit prompting me?  (Romans 8:6) Bill recommended a trial decision-making experience in which you "try on" the decision and see if it leads to more peace and life, or does it lead to fear and anxiety.

Lastly, in this "intro" Bill reminded us to take responsibility for our decision-making, particularly when we've made the wrong decisions.  Admit it.

Then, Bill moved into what he calls leadership Axioms.  (see his new book by the same name).  Axioms are really this leadership process formula (above), condensed into axioms or proverbs or "micro-waved wisdom."  These are ways to make and guide decisions through key axioms that have become truism as we make future decisions.  The first example was from Abraham Lincoln:  "The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend."  A second was Bob Galvin, "Create motion for motion's sake."  He also mentioned Colin Powell (Bill interviewed him last year on his leadership principles).  Powell has about 2 dozen of these that guide his decision-making like "Check your ego at the door" and "promote a clash of ideas."

Then Bill began to share a few of his own axioms (of which he has 76).  Before he did, he asked this question, which I think is poignant and helpful:  "Do you reflect enough on your own leadership to develop your own principles/ proverbs/ axioms on which to make decisions based on your values." [paraphrase]

  • Vision leaks.
  • All I have to do is get the right people around the table and we'll be fine.
  • Facts are your friends.
  • When something feels funky, engage.
  • Take a flyer.  [means take a calculated risk, pony up,
  • This is church.

Bill also took some time in the middle to talk about the Reveal study, and the major changes happening at Willow.  He shared openly and honestly about how difficult, and yet exciting these changes have been.  You can read more about it at the Out of Ur blog.

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Lining Up


One of the things that has always bothered me, and that continues to bother me is the ongoing segmentation of the church.  It seems that we evangelicals in particular have a penchant for either creating new litmus tests, new groups with whom we need to affiliate in order to be orthodox, or in order to be a part of the true, pure, right and holy group of Christians. It's been interesting because so many young people have lamented the fact that the church is so broken and disunified, and yet no, many of us are falling into the same trap.  Recently, I've seen this in the desire to protect the church from sermon pastors.  The emerging church is now splitting into multiple categories depending on who you agree with.  Are you a Bellist?  Or a Driscollite?  Do you ascribe to Piperian Baptist Reformed theology, or are you dabbling in McLarenism?  Are you falling prey to Seayanic visions of the missional church, or are you a Kellerite?  Does McManustic theology intrigue you or is Hirschology forming you? Is your church designed around Coletic discipleship, Seeker-sensitive Hybellianism, suburban Warrenics, urban Claibornest new monasticism, or McNealian simplicity?  DA Carson, Stanley Grenz, or NT Wright?  Clark Pinnock or Wayne Grudem?  Scott McKnight or Spencer Burke?  Mars Hill Graduate School or Trinity Evangelical?

Those are just a few of the things I hear in my own circles.  I find myself feeling like I always have to choose and line up or I'll be labelled a heretic at the next turn.  If I agree with something Rob Bell is doing or saying, am I heretical?  If I like Radical Reformission by Driscoll, but I disagree with where he draws the line for what's orthodox, am I out? If I like a lot of what McLaren says in Generous Orthodoxy and I think Bill Hybels is a great evangelical leader, whose camp am I in?  And how do we figure out who's with who?  Is Donald Miller with Rob Bell or Mark Driscoll?  Is Erwin McManus with DA Carson or Chris Seay?

I guess one of my frustrations is that we are continuing to throw out the word "orthodox" as if it's a word that has a pretty solid, hard and fast meaning.  So, where's the list?  If it's drawn from the Nicene Creed, then when we use it, we certainly expand the content.  Who decides what and who's orthodox?  What does orthodox really mean, anyway, because it seems to me lately to have a pretty wide semantic range.  And we seem to be quite afraid that the church is going to go to hell in a handbasket even though Jesus said quite clearly that the gates of Hell wouldn't prevail against it.  I'm not saying that theology, boundaries, truth, and orthodoxy don't matter.  In fact, I'm quite convinced they do.  But the way we are currently talking and treating one another by forcing each other to line up is getting a little tired.  It's particularly frustrating, for instance, when people get accused of being unorthodox because they are seeking to deeply enflesh the gospel in a culture of poverty while "solid" evangelical churches are deeply heretical in their praxis of encouraging personal success or other theologies. 

Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

How about we start talking about what it is the unifies us?  How about we start talking about how Jesus is being displayed in the world? 

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