Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A meeting with Bill Hybels

While we were in Michigan myself and the South Bay staff had the opportunity to meet with one of my all time heroes of the faith, Bill Hybels. This man has had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of many other leaders. Through a course of events we were able to spend about 90 minutes asking him leadership questions and getting his advice for the new church we are starting. I am attaching a picture for proof!

So after this meeting here are some of my big take-aways:
1. Never Forget the Importance of Relationships!
Bill mentioned the difference between being a parent and a grandparent. As a parent you often want your kids to progress to the next stage of development to the neglect of enjoying the current stage of life. As a grandparent people are often able to savor each season of a child's life with more joy. He commented on how so many pastors are like the over anxious parent, and they miss the joy of relationships in the beginning days of a church. He said that during the first couple years of a church you should be having two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners almost every day. Maybe this is why so many church planters put on weight. He commented on how if you are just about numbers people will begin to smell it! If we ever fail to have compassion for the one lost soul we will miss the point of Jesus ministry and the local church, which is changed lives.

2. Don't force a strategy
He challenged our team not to force a strategic plan. He said that leadership is very intuitive and requires leaders to listen to the Spirit and read the people we are leading. He said part of the challenge is to act at the right time. Not too quick, not to slow. He was saying this especially in relation to the timing of our launch.

3. Be careful of over-revving!
He said that one of the biggest struggles he sees in young leaders and leaders in general is a tendency to become un-balanced with overworking and ultimately mechanical in our work. Many leaders burnout because they have placed expectations on themselves and others that God did not place on them. We must have things that he calls, "non-negotiables" such as a daily time alone with God, date with your spouse, working out (for people like myself). For example, we would never go without a shower for a week. (maybe you would) But often times there are things that should not be negotiable in the Christian life but we compromise them. This was a great challenge to me to focus on my family and personal health. Bill said that when we get to this place we really must deal with the darkness in our hearts that has lead us to burnout. What need in my life is not being met that I am trying to fill with "ministry."

I could go on and on. I don't want to bore you! But I must say that I was very blessed by this time and count it a huge blessing from God. It was tremendous for our team and very life changing. It was especially that my wife got to meet his wife Lynne who was a part of our meeting for about 30 minutes. She gave us some great advice about protecting our wives and helping them get engaged in the life of the church.

Bill and Lynne, not that you would ever read this. But I am so thankful for your lives, your faithfulness to Christ and his church, your love for the lost, your investment in leaders, and much more. We are grateful for the little time we were able to share with you. You changed our lives!