GLS Session 1: Bill Hybels


I don’t know Bill Hybels, we’ve never met, but if he were Kevin Bacon, I’d be 1 degree removed from him. Many people I know and have worked for know Bill very well. I can’t speak to knowing him, but I can speak to respecting him. Here is why I respect Bill Hybels:

  1. In the late 1970s he almost single handedly started getting the church at large to consider the perspective of unchurched people. This was ground breaking and we stand on his and others’ shoulders in our endeavors to be missional today.
  2. He and his wife Lynne became students are are now leaders in conversations around diversity and reconciliation. Bill continues to lead GLS to host more and more diverse voices and this year is no exception.
  3. He always looks for a way to share the gospel, or an inviting aspect of his faith in all of his talks, especially when he knows he will be addressing people who are not church people. He did this again today very well.
  4. Every year at GLS he shares what he has been learning lately. This often involves self depreciating stories where he is not the hero. He did this again today and I always appreciate his example of being a life long learner.

Bill’s talk today didn’t have one cohesive theme that I could follow, but it was extremely timely considering our world today. Here are some highlights and quotes:

First Topic: Civility and Culture of Respect:

‘Armed with enough humility a leader can learn from anyone’
“Am I a leader or am I just a trouble maker?” Hybels at 10. If I had asked myself more reflective questions at aged 10, I’m sure I would be further along.
– In the next 7 days: write or call the people who poured into you. Also, renew our covenant to take the extra few minutes to notice and encourage younger leaders.
Worldwide issue: leading in a deepening divisive environment. Increased disrespect for women, widening gaps between rich and poor. Increased division and disrespect. Bill spoke very eloquently and carefully about our political and media divisiveness without being partisan. I was struck by how important this talk was and at the same time how elementary it is. The elementary nature of it is its own indictment on our society. Bill himself stated, “I teach my grandkids this stuff!” And yet more than ever, adults need to put it into practice. 
– People of faith do not get to choose who we respect. 1 peter, ‘show proper respect to everyone.’
  1. set the example of how to differ without demonizing
  2. Spirited conversations without drawing blood
  3. Not interrupt and not dominate the conversation
  4. Limit volume level, refuse to use incendiary or belittling words
  5. Courteous in word and deed
  6. Never stereotype
  7. Apologize immediately when they are wrong instead of denying or doubling down
  8. Form opinions carefull and stay open minded to better information.
  9. Show up when you say you will show up, do what you say you will do
  10. Set rules of respect and enforce them relentlessly.
CEO of AT&T, ‘ I am not asking you to simply tolerate each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Work hard to move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other.’
2nd topic: Succession in leadership
Who? Who is the successor and who decides who the successor is?
Phases of transition:
Final Questions: 
Are we getting better as leaders or are we just getting busier?
Every day practice chair time: read, reflect, pray, surrender,
For business leaders: ‘At a certain point, mere financial success should bore you…God created you and your life and business can be a change maker in this world.’

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