I’ve just finished reading “Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels – a great book for church planters, mission minded pastors, and high capacity volunteer leaders. In this book, Bill provides ministry and leadership wisdom from both his success and failure. He provides what seems to be an authentic look at his struggles in pastoral leadership and the lessons he has learned through the journey. I pray that God continues to weave these pastoral leadership principles into the fabric of my own life and leadership.
Following are the cliff notes I gleaned from “Courageous Leadership”:
“Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.” page 33
During my years as a Willow Creek Association conference speaker, I would teach Willow’s definition of “vision” as “the ideal picture of the future”. This is true, but limited. I greatly appreciate how Bill has modified the definition to include passion. Vision is not just a picture of the future; it is a picture of the future that produces passion and excitement within the church body for accomplishing Jesus’ mission. If you know me, you know that I am a very passionate person and leader. It’s no wonder this expanded definition resonates so strongly within me.
The selection process for building Kingdom dream teams is based on ‘three Cs': “first character, then competence, and finally chemistry…. Character, Competence, Chemistry.” page 81.
In hiring ministry staff, I have always focused on character and competence, but I learned the hard way that chemistry is essential. My most recent staff teams have possessed all ‘three Cs’. Ministry certainly is easier and more enjoyable when I labor in ministry with people I enjoy sharing life with. Relational chemistry on ministry teams brings added joy in fulfilling Jesus’ mission – even when the journey is hard.
“…leaders are at their very best when they are raising up leaders around them. Or put another way, leaders are at their best when they are creating a leadership culture.” page 122
One of my greatest passions in ministry is empowering leaders. I love coming alongside emerging leaders and coaching them to a place where they experience the fullness of God’s power through their spiritual gifts in accomplishing Jesus’ mission. This is why reproduction of leaders is an essential part of our spiritual formation process in the new church and community based organization we are starting. Click here to read a brief overview of our CPR2 spiritual formation process.
“Who is your toughest leadership challenge?” “YOU.” page 182
How true! Great leadership begins with great self-leadership. If we can’t be disciplined enough to lead ourselves, how can we ever expect to be great at leading others? For me, this is holistic. Self-leadership involves my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. How can I lead, encourage, or disciple others into the fullness of life that Jesus offers if I am unfit in any of these areas of my own life? I want others to be able to follow my example. Like all pastoral leaders, I have to focus with un-wavering determination to live healthy. It doesn’t come easy. But I have found that the ongoing practice of spiritual disciplines goes a long way in helping me maintain my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health.
Another chapter worth noting, but not quoting, do to it’s reflective nature is “Discovering and Developing Your Own Leadership Style”. chapter 7
Bill first presented this chapter years ago at a WCA Leadership Summit – a message I have heard multiple times over in various context, and now again. But it never gets old. I love coming back to the fundamentals of how God has wired me up. Even if you have heard this message before, get your hands on this chapter, and let God speak His truth of who you are into your life and leadership. My primary leadership styles are the “motivational”, “team building”, and “entrepreneurial” and shift smoothly as the environment and needs of the ministry change.
And now for the home run. “Developing an Enduring Spirit – Staying the Course”. Chapter 12
After 14 years of full-time ministry, I have seen far too many peers benched due to moral failure or exhaustion. So how do pastoral leaders develop an enduring spirit and stay the course. Bill suggests three courses in the graduate school of endurance – 1) “Make your calling sure and stay focused”, 2) “Enduring by developing the courage to change”, 3) “Enduring by discovering safe people”.
The principles presented in “Courageous Leadership” are essential in developing pastors and churches that reach their fullest potential reaching people with the irresistible love of God.