“Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels reflects what he has learned and continues to learn about Christian leadership in his many years as pastor at Willow Creek Church. His message takes on eternal significance as he recounts his belief that “the local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders”. One of the great tragedies in our church today, according to Hybels, “is its failure to recognize the importance of the spiritual gift of leadership”.
“Courageous Leadership’ helps readers unpack the tools, tasks and challenges of their calling. Chapter 9, which focuses on self-leadership, reminds readers that leading well means leading well in all directions. The compass provides a powerful image of the magnetic need for the 360- degree leader to develop effective relationships with their supervisors (north), with the people they supervise (south) and with their peer groups (those on the east and west). In addition to learning how to lead up, lead across and lead down, this chapter guides readers in the rigorous work of self-reflection and inner growth. Issues such as clear vision, passion, the development of gifts, character, pride, fear and the interior issues that undermine leadership, are explored insightfully by the author as he shares some of the victories and setbacks he has experienced in his own courageous leadership journey.
Reviewed by Pamela Bosworth
I was revisiting the story of the spies sent in to the land of Canaan. This land was God’s promise of inheritance to His people. This land, though unfamiliar, held all that was needed to thrive as a nation. No longer would the people need to count on the resources of Egypt, nor would they long for what they did not have in the wilderness. God’s people would enjoy the plunder of crops they did not plant, houses they did not build, rest they did not earn.
If we were playing “Let’s Make A Deal,” what part of Canaan would you turn down? What of the promise would you resist? The choice for Canaan would seem like a “no-brainer.” Yet, ten of the twelve spies returned to report that the giants in the land would be too much for the Israelites to overtake. The enemies were too many and too great a force against an ‘unarmed’ people.
We would rather dance with the familiar than claim our birthright. God is not through offering the inheritance that He has for His children to His children. He invites us into freedom…the freedom from needing to create and sustain our own egos; the internal freedom from the shame of feeling disconnected with ourselves and everyone around us; the freedom to pursue the dreams He has planted in us with the resources that He provides for us; the freedom to co-create our future and to walk gladly into what has been prepared for us.
There is a spirit of familiarity that wars against newness. There is a spirit of “I’ll settle for” that wars against excellence. There is a spirit of “this is as good as it gets” that rivals the adventure God calls us into. There is a spirit of self-protection and self-promotion that promotes grasping over receiving. There is the spirit of “it can’t be done” that stopped the opportunity for the ten spies to ever enter Canaan. The wilderness was their final earthly home.
We need leaders like Joshua and Caleb who trust the Living God implicitly. We need the boldness of a Joshua and Caleb that looks over the land God promises from God’s viewpoint and promise that ‘it will be yours!’ We need the examples of leaders like Joshua and Caleb, who regardless of age or stage of life, believe God and model unmitigated trust in Him.
What are the familiar things in your journey to which you are attached and will not release? Where do the resources of your own making thwart your embracing God’s resources? What adventure is He calling you to that you think will compromise your safety and security Nothing of value is lost when the leaders of God put their trust in Him. We will never lead people into freedom if we, ourselves, are bound. We cannot offer the resources of the Living God when the structures upon which we live are homemade.
“Lead on, O King Eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums;
with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.”
~ Ernest W. Shurtleff