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Leadership Summit 2017: Bill Hybels

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If you missed the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this year, no worries I’ve got you covered. I’ll be posting my notes and thoughts from each presenter over the next couple of days.

If you’re unfamiliar with Leadership Summit, more than 300,000 leaders participated in this world-class experience designed to help people to grow in their leadership capacity and effectiveness. Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event telecast LIVE in HD from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August to more than 600 locations in 128 countries and 60 languages.

Willow Creek Community Church Founder and Senior Pastor Bill Hybels opened the Summit addressing The Challenge of Leading an Organization in an Era of Divisiveness and Disrespect. The following are leadership quotes and lessons from this incredible session.

  • Armed with enough humility anyone can learn from anyone
  • Who do you owe the most for calling leadership out in you in your early years? Who saw potential in you before anyone else did? Who gave you an opportunity before anyone else did? Who kept saying to you, “You can handle this, you can figure this out, I know you can.”
  • Leaders must plant leadership seeds in the lives of younger people that they see leadership in.
  • We are where we are in our leadership journey today because someone gave us an opportunity.
  • Sometime in the next 7 days: reflect on who those leaders were in your early years and express your gratitude to them

The challenge of leading an organization in an era of divisiveness and disrespect

  • Where is disrespect and divisiveness taking us?
  • 95% of the US population believe we have an incivility issue
  • We of faith do not get to choose who we respect

10 Rules of respect

  1. Leaders must set the example of how to differ with others without demonizing them
  2. Leaders must demonstrate how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood
  3. Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and not dominate the conversation
  4. Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume and refusing to use “incendiary” or “belittling” words that guarantee to derail a discussion
  5. Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed
  6. Leaders must never stereotype others
  7. Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along
  8. Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.
  9. Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly
  10. So…looks like I missed one…sorry readers!
  • Tolerance is easy and requires little of us…we must move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other
  • Those we lead are dying for us to challenge them and call the best out of them
  • Succession:
    • Who is going to make the decision? Is it the Sr. Leader or the Board or someone else?
    • When will it happen? Getting to clarity on this will drive the whole process.
    • How will it be led? Board going to run it, Sr. Pastor?
    • Planning: transition document is built
    • Internal: Research shows that internal successors have a much higher success rate
    • External: global search
    • Transition: credential the successor and set them up to win
  • Succession Learnings:
    • Having a well thought through road map is essential,
    • Keep the journey bathed in prayer and keep personalities and politics out of it
    • Our process has probably been too long (if a succession plan is long and complicated enough it will motivate any leader to want to move on)
    • When it goes too long it takes a toll on the vision of the organization
    • We underestimated the emotional toll it would take on the Sr. Leaders (asking the SLT to live in limbo is a huge risk)
    • We made 1 process mistake that caused unnecessary pain. The board didn’t do a regular check in with Bill during their vetting process.
  • God is an equal opportunity storywriter
  • Is it possible that God is writing an ending to your story and season so He can lead you to something new or different?
  • Endings matter too
  • Challenges:
    • Spend 15 minutes each morning in a chair you love to read and reflect on your life. Are you getting busier or better as a leader? Don’t squeeze all of the reflection time out of your life.
    • Make this year the year of the grander vision. Don’t just improve your product but make a difference in your community. At a certain point mere financial success should bore you.
    • Measure the health of your organizations culture and be committed to improving it. Your culture will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
    • Do you have a personal betterment plan for your leadership in the coming year?
    • Are you leading on the home front as well as you’re leading at work?

Posted in Leadership

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The Difference between Credibility and Ability

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There’s a big difference between ability and credibility. I’ve had conversations with many young leaders who think they should get a shot at an opportunity or they deserve be promoted because of their ability. But what many young leaders fail to understand is that real leadership is recognized not appointed.

This is not about “paying your dues,” but rather figuring out 3 big leadership lessons…

  • Learning to be Patient: the art of timing is essential in leadership
  • Submitting to Authority: you can’t be in authority without learning to be under authority
  • Delivering Consistently Over Time: building the credibility to lead, not just having the ability to

Ability is an unrealized ceiling that you have based on your potential.

Just because you have the ability to doing something doesn’t mean you have done it or that you will do it. You have an upside because someone sees something in you. You have the potential to deliver, but you haven’t delivered yet…at least not consistently over an extended period of time. You’ve shown flashes of greatness but can you deliver that day in and day out?

Credibility is what you have when you demonstrate ability over time.

What makes you credible is the fact that you’ve delivered consistently over time. People know what to expect from you. You show up over and over and over again. You are consistent with what you deliver over and over and over again. You know it and everyone else knows it. People know you can do a job, because you’ve proven it.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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3 Big Reasons Why Missions Pastors are an Endangered Species

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I can remember the first international mission trip that I ever went on. A young up and coming ministry leader with a parachurch organization called the Navigators invited me to spend some time in Singapore and Indonesia with him. My life and friendship with Jesus would never be the same.

Most people go on a trip like this hoping to change the world and the world that ends up getting changed is their own. And this is the greatest value in short term mission trips, discipleship. Short term mission trips have the potential to be one of the greatest catalysts of spiritual growth, leadership development and developing an outsider focused culture in your church.

The problem? More and more churches are dropping the role of mission pastors like hot potatoes.

Come & See Mentality

Instead of a go and tell approach to ministry many churches are adopting a come and see mentality. In more and more churches ministry is something that happens at the church not in community.

It’s easier to send Money than People

It’s a lot easier and safer to just sent money than it is to send people. Mobilizing a team of people to go requires time, energy and leadership.

They Keep Going instead of Sending

Often times people who feel called to “international missions” see more value in going than sending and as a result leave a leadership void in the local church. While there can be impact in going that impact can be magnified exponentially by sending.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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Thank you for making July another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s been great to stay connected with you through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

7 Lessons from a Sr. Pastor Succession Plan that Worked

In 2014, I had a front row seat to the handoff of senior leadership of a multi-mega church from one Lead Pastor to another. Serving on the Executive Team at that time I had the privilege of having a behind the scenes view to the whole thing, start to finish. This post details some of the learnings from that experience.

How to Choose the Next Board Members at your Church

If you’ve led in a church for any length of time you can probably tell some stories of experiences you’ve had with dysfunctional Church Boards. Church Board become dysfunctional for a variety of reasons and there are some basic steps you can take to avoid a dysfunctional Board. The first step is to avoid inviting the wrong people to the Board. In writing this post I’m assuming that you’re already vetting potential Board Members based on the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about selecting church leaders. 

8 Reasons Why People don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

When to Invest in a Young Leader and when to Ignore them

Experienced leaders are always going to have more opportunities available to say yes to than capacity to meet them. This is true in leadership and this is true in developing young talent. You have to make a choice. So, choose wisely. How do you know who to invest in and who to ignore?

5 Reasons People don’t Sing at your Church

We all want people engaging in worship, but what is really in our control and how can we help people connect through the music? Here is a list of factors that contribute to how people respond and engage during worship in our churches.

The Power of Showing Up

There is incredible power in simply showing up. This is true in parenting, it’s true in coaching, it’s true in teaching, and it’s true in leadership. Over the years I’ve observed many church leaders who overestimate the potential of a pivotal moment and underestimate the power of faithfully showing up every day. When you show up daily, your leadership ends up showing up over time.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Church Leaders

It’s much easier to identify poor leadership in others than it is in yourself. We have a tendency to judge our leadership based on our intentions and the leadership of other based on the results.

The Difference between a Shepherd and a Leader

I love helping churches and leaders get unstuck and make vision real. In fact out of all the stuff I get to do with churches and leaders one of the things I enjoy the most is Leadership Coaching. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day coaching a group of Pastors and Church Leaders from Australia (unfortunately their cool accent didn’t rub off). One of the topics we spent time digging into was the difference between shepherding and leading in relation to why some churches are stuck while others move forward. Here are couple of thoughts from the conversation.

The Dumbest thing that Emotionally Intelligent Leaders do

But just because someone has a high E.Q. doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to be a good leader. They may be talented but that doesn’t make them good. Those are two very different things. No amount of emotional intelligence will compensate for a fatal flaw of character. Void of character a high E.Q. will drive leaders towards manipulation instead of leadership.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Tearing Down Imaginary Fences

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Have you ever thought to yourself or even said out loud, “we could never do that,” at our church? Maybe you don’t think your denomination would allow it, or your pastor wouldn’t allow it, or your church board wouldn’t allow it. Maybe you feel as though there are too many road blocks to change and you feel helpless or hopeless.

What I’ve found is that many church leaders are living within imaginary fences that they’ve constructed in their minds through either assuming the worst or building an entire reality in their minds based on one (or a couple) of bad experiences.

The truth is, you probably have more leeway to implement change at your church than you think. Here’s how…

Find the Yes

Stop looking for the no…find the yes. It’s easy to go negative and keep your eyes and mind on everything you can’t do. Anyone can to that, it takes no work, energy or leadership. Being solution oriented on the other hand is rare. I guess that’s why real leadership is rare too. You’ll find what you’re looking for.

Focus on Growth Not Change

Every change you make is a criticism of the past, and no one likes to be criticized. So, focusing on or even talk about change in an anti-change environment is a recipe for disaster. Instead focus on growth, helping people spiritually grow and join Jesus on His mission to help people know Him and follow Him. You cannot follow Jesus and stay where you are. This is true personally and organizationally. So focus on growth and change will happen.

Assume the Best and Clarify

What if instead of assuming the worst about your denomination, your pastor or your church board you assumed the best and then clarified? What if you changed all of that self-talk and chose to believe that these were all people who cared about people meeting Jesus and following Jesus?

Stop talking about what’s Wrong

Words create worlds. Language builds culture. You may have a negative culture on your church team because you’ve been speaking negatively about your denomination, pastor or church board. Take personal ownership for your attitude and your words, and how they’ve contributed to the problem. And…you actually may have some sin to confess in there somewhere.

Promote the Gospel not a Method

Stop worrying about a particular ministry program, method or approach you want to take and start focusing on the Gospel. Your ministry program or method isn’t going to change the world, Jesus will. And all of us know that methods come and go. That method you love today is going to be stale in the future and someone is going to feel the same way about it that you do about old methods you’re trying to change.

Want to learn more about changing your church? Here’s a couple of posts will help you:


Posted in Leadership