Thanks to The Rocket Company, I am attending the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit for the next two days.  In an effort to help fulfill our mission of helping churches succeed, I will be bringing some of the top leadership lessons from the incredible faculty the WCA has assembled.

As is its custom, Willow Creek Community Church Founder and Senior Pastor Bill Hybels opened the Summit speaking on the courage leadership requires.  The following are leadership quotes and lessons from this incredible session.

  • Everybody wins when a leader gets better.
  • We are incurable learners.
  • Leadership requires a non-stop demand of fortitude from Day 1 to the end.
  • Leadership is not for the faint of heart.
  • Courage, old fashioned fortitude and bravery, relates to every component of leadership.
  • Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.
  • God made you a leader to move people from here to there; to make people discontent with the way things are.
  • Be strong and courageous.  He will always be with you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.
  • There is dignity in choice instead of just being given a bag (for people needing food).
  • Why any senior pastor would keep fired up women from full service in the church is just beyond me.
  • Every significant vision God births in you is going to put your courage to the test…A certain percentage of people are going to resist going.
  • Every vision tests the mettle of the leader.  So leaders often abort the vision secretly.
  • Should we lay the blame (for the violence and tragedy in this world) at the feet of gutless, cowardly leaders?
  • I’ve got to live with myself.  And I got to stand before God someday…I have to step out in faith even though I’m vibrating with fear…It’s why God made us leaders.
  • Don’t go to your grave with cool vision shriveling up and dying inside of you.  Don’t be that leader.  Don’t be a coward.
  • Our new Care Center was her family’s only hope.  And I thought of how close I came to killing that vision…What a tragedy that would have been.
  • Visions are holy commodities…Treat them with the utmost respect.
  • The leader’s job is to define reality.
  • All leaders are leading in situation where things are going down, status quo, or an upturn.  And each requires a different leadership style.
  • In a downturn a leader has to declare an emergency.
  • Seasoned leaders have to come up with some way of signaling to everyone in the organization they are in a code red.
  • In a status quo, the leader has to set a fire.  Status quo is not acceptable and extremely dangerous for an organization.  Status quo is precursor to something bad.
  • In upturns, leaders need to pour gasoline on fires.
  • For one leader, it took him three days to actually admit his church is in a downturn and losing steam.
  • If you lead long enough, you’re going to experience all three of these circumstances.  If internal circumstances don’t cause it, external circumstances will.
  • Your whole team knows what reality your organization is in.  They already know.  They are waiting for you to develop the courage to admit it to yourself.
  • Nothing I have done in the last six years at Willow has required more courage than moving Willow to a healthier place.
  • People join organizations.  They leave managers.
  • We had to change out some managers because they were blocked learners.
  • We are every bit as concerned about building staff culture as we are building the church.
  • Whose job is it to drive the improvements we want in our organization?  Staff cultures will only be as healthy as the CEO or Senor Pastor wants it to be.  Delegating it to anyone else is the kiss of death.
  • Enormous courage is going to be required to make significant changes in your organization’s health.  It starts with apologies.
  • I had to look new staff and 20-30 year staff to accept the new culture or leave.
  • There are only two people at Willow – Culture Builders or Culture Busters.
  • We are no longer going to pay people to bruise and bust our culture.
  • It’s hard to row a boat to the other side of the lake when 3 are rowing, 5 are napping and the other 2 are doing their best to sink the boat.  Contrast that with a boat where 10 are rowing.  Who’s going to win that race every time?
  • Social media makes a lot of things easier.
  • The more I utilize social media the hungrier I get for face-to-face interaction.
  • The more I utilize social media the hungrier I get for true community.
  • Social media provides the illusion of community.
  • It’s insane that a broken-hearted person can sit in a church service and not a single person could reach out to them.
  • If it’s the last thing I do I’m going to find a way to show compassion to everyone in our service who is looking for it.
  • There is a time to cast vision and there is a time to establish a value in a church.
  • We are no longer going to be a church where broken people are going to leave a Willow service unloved, unnoticed, and uncared for.
  • The better prayer is “God do something in me…we’re going to do something important to move vision to a value.”
  • This is difference between cowardly leaders and courageous leaders.
  • If you lead an organization long enough you’re going to have to totally reinvent the organization and reinvent yourself more than once.
  • If you have any desire to finish strong you have to have the courage to start the succession conversations.
  • Some of the most rewarding experiences in a leader’s marathon are reserved for late in the race.
  • The Care Center came in Year 38 of my race.
  • “Why are you starting this church?” asked his lawyer at age 22.  Bill answered, “To change people’s lives.”  He said, “People don’t change.”  Bill replied, “I’m betting my whole life you’re wrong.”
  • I’m still such a sucker for a changed life.  There is nothing to touches me more deeply than watching God change a human life.
  • All I want in this life is to watch God changed human lives and destinies.
  • Do not bail on your mission.  Do not quit on God.  Endure.  Finish strong.
  • If there is ever a time crying out for courageous leadership, it’s now.

Keep checking back as I will be updating this site throughout the conference.  Getting ready now for General Colin Powell and Patrick Lencioni.


Click here or the image provided to register for a FREE webinar  put on by The Rocket Company on August 20th where we will teach on creating and implementing healthy systems in your church.  Healthy systems are the #1 thing needed for your church to grow and reach its full redemptive potential.


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