Thursday, August 8, 2013

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Bill Hybels

The Courage of Leadership--

Leadership demands a non-stop flow of fortitude.  Leadership is not for the faint of heart.  Without God's help leadership is almost impossible to sustain.  Right now the world is reflecting on the courage of Nelson Mandela who is lying near death.  He courageously worked through his life to end apartheid in his country.  He is quoted as saying this was "A cause for which I am fully prepared to die."

Courage correlates to every single component of leadership.  Courage is critical to vision.  Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.  God made you a leader to move people from 'here' to 'there'.  This looks so easy when you draw a line on a flip chart but, in reality, it requires far more courage than onlookers can imagine.

Willow Creek's new Care Center was constructed on their campus recently.  The elders moved ahead with this project in the midst of a deep recession.  This was a time when the poor needed help but also when it was challenging to raise money.  Their regular budget was 2 million dollars behind.  Yet Bill prayed for courage and presented the vision.

Over the course of 3 years they experienced God's presence as they saw and felt God move.  The entire 10 million was raised before they broke ground.  The facility includes a full-choice free grocery store, a clothing boutique, and an auto shop that refurbishes cars to give to single moms.

Every significant vision that God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.  A certain percentage of people will always resist the vision.  Another percentage will have a 'wait and see' attitude.  No one wants to move half way and not finish the job.  So many leaders secretly abort their vision without telling anyone about it.  They send it back to God and say it's 'too risky'.

Throughout history God has sent visions to leaders around the world that would make great social life-enhancing changes--visions that were snuffed out because the leader felt the cost was too high.  The deaths of these visions occurred in secret.  Should we lay the blame for this on God or on the feet of a large number of cowardly, gutless leaders?

A high percentage of us have a vision hidden in us right now but we lack bravery.

There comes a day when we realize we have to live with ourself and we have to stand before God so we tell ourselves the truth of Joshua 1:9 --that God is with us wherever we go.

God make us leaders not to sit and suck air but to move people from 'here' to 'there' despite our fear.  Don't go to your grave with a vision dead inside you.

What a colossal tragedy it is to abort our visions.  Our visions are holy commodities.  Don't kill them off in a late-night fit of cowardliness.  Say Joshua 1:9 over and over and then get up and walk in faith toward that vision.

Second component of leadership is the courage to define current reality.  This is an essential component.  All leaders are always leading--either when the organization is going down or is status quo or is in an upturn.  Each of these situations requires different leadership.

In a downturn, a leader has to declare an emergency, to create a plan, and to get it going fast.  Seasoned leaders have to come up with a way of signaling the danger and be a little dramatic about it.

If an organization is in status quo, the leader has to set a fire.  The leader has to build a case that status quo is dangerous and is almost always the precursor to certain demise.  They need to plan how to break out and get the organization going.

If an organization is in an upturn they need to keep it moving and plan for the future.

Leaders who hear the above lecture nod their heads and then e-mail Bill to confide that the toughest part is to admit what reality they are in.  It's hard to face the truth.

If you lead long enough, you will experience all three of these realities.  Once you have the courage to define the reality, you can lead your organization out of it.  Your whole team knows what reality your organization is in and are waiting for you to recognize it and lead them out of it.

What reality is YOUR organization in?  As soon as possible, go to your team and confer with them about it.

The third component of leadership is the courage to build a fantastic culture.  Bill talked of the courage it took to bring in an outside organization to rate his church's culture.  He knew it would hurt to hear the truth, but he knew it was the right thing to do.  The results were ugly and painful.  The tool used was "The Best Christian Workplace" -- lower than 3.75 was a toxic culture with unresolved conflict, people who don't like each other, etc.  If you're in the 4.0 range it's comfortable but not great.  The 4.25 is flourishing (where the magic and the power lie).  In the first year Willow's score was 3.82 and it was devastating to Bill.  Many comments on the survey were filled with hurt and disappointment.  Over the next weeks they prayed courageously and began to put action plans together.  They knew it would take hundreds of meetings to get people to build trust.

By the third year they had raised into the 'healthy' level and it was evident.

Important truth:  People join organizations.  They leave managers.

Began to train managers and make staff culture a priority.  Now managers are rated not only on what they achieve but also on how they manage their staff..

In recent year Willow scored a 4.33.

Bill was asked whose job it was to drive the changes in the culture?  He had to admit it was up to him. *** Staff culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior pastor or CEO wants it to be.***Enormous courage beginning with brave apologies will be required to change the culture.

Bill had to look staff members in the eye and tell them things had to change or they would have to leave.  Only 'culture builders' will have jobs at Willow.  We will no longer pay people to bruise and bust our culture.

You cannot believe the increased performance from a healthy culture.  When all the people in the boat are rowing the race will be run every single time.  Performance this year was so good they declared the first week of July "Gratitude to God" week and sent the whole staff home with pay to enjoy their families.

How healthy is your staff culture?  Pray on your knees for courage, then get up off your knees and start fixing your culture.  Get ready for outcomes you never thought were possible.

The fourth component of leadership that requires courage is the establishment and enforcement of values.  The more we use social media the hungrier we get for true community--knowing and being known in person.  At Willow they are building loving communities in each of the seating sections in their auditorium with a 'section pastor' for each.

When the granddaughter of a Willow staff member was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. and died shortly after her 5th birthday, the staff member was in Hong Kong right after her death and went to church there.  He had a wave of grief and cried all during the service and no one reached out to him.  Bill was so upset and then became concerned that this could happen at Willow also.  He then called meetings at Willow and led them to establish the value of community.

You have to come to the time when you go beyond casting vision to throw down the gauntlet and declare a value is being established.

Since January at Willow they have seen care levels rise dramatically.  This was driven by community being declared a value.

Direct your wishing, hoping, and praying to asking God to help you to have the courage to declare a value.  For some of you God wanted you to come to the Summit to hear this one point.

There are so many other components of leadership that are courage-intensive--like the courage to lead in the face of criticism or disappointment.  Bill tells of a woman who was pinned between two cars and badly injured after the 5th Easter service.  They had one more service to lead that day and had to rally to get through it.  During seasons of personal need, Joshua's prayer has to be in front of you.

The courage for a leader to finish strong--If you lead an organization long enough you will have to totally reinvent the organization and yourself more than once.  This requires a unique form of bravery.  You will have to watch staff leave.

Some of the most rewarding experiences in a leader's marathon are reserved for quite late in the race.  Maybe God arranges it that way to sweeten the race.  Bill says he's glad he didn't miss the events of the last few years at Willow.  He started Willow at age 22 and the lawyer asked him why he was starting a church and Bill said, "To change people's lives."  The lawyer told him people don't change.  Bill told him, "I'm betting my whole life on you being wrong about that, pal."  Recently Bill was conducting a baptism and felt a prompting from God to stop the baptism and tell the congregation that "God loves you just the way you are today."  He then gave an invitation for those who would come to begin a relationship with God right then.  Then he closed his eyes to pray and then heard movement and opened his eyes to see people streaming to the front to be baptized--even in their street clothes.  Bill's heart was bursting with joy and he thought of that attorney and wanted to tell him, "People's lives do change and they're changing right now."  Bill says, "All I really want with the rest of my life is to see Him transform people's lives and destinies."

...  so many of God's great rewards for leaders are reserved for late in the race so do not bail on your mission.  Endure.  Finish strong.  Do not quit.

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