Courageous Leadership | Notes & Review

Bill Hybels. Courageous Leadership. Zondervan, 2002. (251 pages)


Regarding 9/11 and Ground Zero, “While many fine organizations met the external needs of people, the church was there to do what it is uniquely equipped to do: to offer healing to deeply wounded souls.” (16)

THE BEAUTY & POWER OF THE CHURCH: “I believe that only one power exists on this sorry planet that can [truly transform the human heart]. It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. And what grips my heart every day is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church.” (21)

THE POTENTIAL OF THE CHURCH: “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.” (23)

THE VITALITY OF THE CHURCH: “What flourishing churches have is common is that they are led by people who possess and deploy the spiritual gift of leadership.” (26)

LEADERSHIP HISTORY 101: “The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. The question is this: Will the men and women who have been entrusted with leadership gifts take their gifts seriously, develop them fully, and deploy them courageously, so that the willing and gifted believers in their churches can work together to make a difference in the world?” (27)

A LEADER’S MOST POTENT WEAPON: THE POWER OF VISION. “Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.” (32)

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: “If God has given you a kingdom vision, if you see it clearly and feel it deeply, you had better take responsibility for it.” (37)

COMMUNICATE VISION BY EMBODYING IT: “Personify it, live it out.” (38) “By God’s grace, I fully intend to pursue the vision God has entrusted to me, no matter what, no matter who comes or goes.” (40) Don’t forget too, that “vision leaks.” (44)

PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THE MAIN THING: “When a leader is casting vision publicly the goal is to help people know, understand, and remember the ‘main thing.'” (45) Vision “increases ownership,” “provides focus” (47) and “smooths leadership succession,” (48)

GETTING-IT-DONE LEADERSHIP: “People with the spiritual gift of leadership are called to nurture and environment where teachers can teach and shepherds can shepherd and administrators can administer.” (68)

BUILDING A KINGDOM DREAM TEAM: “Community is more than just working with other people. It’s doing life deeply with one another as we serve together. And there’s a huge difference between the two.” (74) First, “define the purpose of the team.” (80) “Establish clear criterion for the selection of specific team members.” (80) “My selection process is based on ‘three Cs’: first character, then competence, and finally chemistry with me and with the rest of the team.” (81) “I look for character that has already been positively formed (82), I don’t apologize for shooting high [on competence] (83), and I never invite a person onto my team who doesn’t have a positive emotional effect on me the minute he or she walks into my office.” (84)

TO BUILD PERFORMANCE, START WITH THE LEADER: “Each team needs a top quality leader who will:

  • Keep the team focused on the mission
  • Make sure the right people with the right gifts and right talents are in the right positions
  • Maximize every team member’s contribution
  • Evenly distribute the load so that morale stays high and burnout stays low
  • Facilitate communication so that all team members remain in the information loop
  • Assess and raise the level of community within the team (86-7)


  • What was your greatest disappointment in the first third of your life? The second third? Recently?
  • Who has been the most outrageously loving person in your life?
  • What was the greatest achievement you experienced before the tenth grade?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • Where would you spend a three-week vacation if money were no object?
  • Of all living people, who would you most want to have a three-hour dinner with and why? (87-8)

“Knowing leads to loving.” (88)

THE RESOURCE CHALLENGE: Truth#1: “God is the ultimate resource supplier.” (98) Truth #2: “Under the right circumstances, people love to give.” (100) Truth #3: “Funding ministry proves the character of a leader like no other challenge.” (101) “When it comes to finances, complexity kills.” (109) “People don’t give to organizations or to other people. They give to visions…generally, the grander the vision, the greater the giving.” (113)

DEVELOPING EMERGING LEADERS: “Leadership development will always slip to the bottom of the agenda unless mature leaders force it to the top.” (123) Character qualities I look for in emerging leaders: “influence,” “character,” “people skills,” “drive,” and “intelligence,” (127-30) “It takes a leader to develop a leader. Leaders learn best from other leaders.” (132) “Whatever we do, we must create leadership cultures.” (138)

DISCOVERING AND DEVELOPING YOUR OWN LEADERSHIP STYLE: Examples: “The visionary,” “the directional,” “the strategic,” “the managing,” “the motivational,” “the shepherding,” “the team-building,” “the entrepreneurial,” the re-engineering,” and “the bridge-building.” “No matter how strong leaders are in their particular leadership style, totally overlooking the areas in which they are weak will eventually compromise their ability to lead.” (158)

A LEADER’S SIXTH SENSE: “I believe that spiritually gifted leaders construct, over time, a value system and experience base that wisely informs each subsequent decision they make…their ability to see what others miss is the fairly predictable result of embracing the right values and letting those values inform their perceptions of reality and the choices they make based on those perceptions.” (163) Some convictions:

  1. If I Honor God In Everything, He Will Honor Me
  2. People Matter
  3. The Local Church Is The Hope of the World

“Peter Drucker once told me, ‘Bill, when it comes to paid staff, even church staff, under-performance is unacceptable.'” (172) “Grace does not mean that we should carry a staff person who isn’t performing adequately.” (173)

“Excellence honors God and inspires people.” (174) “Morale is a big deal.” (174) “Proverbs 13:20 says, ‘Whoever walks with wise people will be wise.'” (178)

THE ART OF SELF-LEADERSHIP: “Who is your toughest leadership challenge? YOU!” (182) Basic self-leadership questions:

  • Is my calling sure?
  • Is my vision clear?
  • Is my passion hot?
  • Am I developing my gifts?
  • Is my character submitted to Christ?
  • Is my pride subdued?
  • Am I overcoming fear?
  • Are my interior issues undermining my leadership?
  • Is my pace sustainable?
  • Is my love for God and people increasing

A LEADER’S PRAYER: “God, make me like David,” (optimism) “God, make me like Jonathan,” (capacity to love) “God, make me like Joseph,” (uncorrupted by power) “God make me like Joshua,” (decisiveness) “God, make me like Esther,” (courage) “God, make me like Solomon,” (wisdom) “God make me like Jeremiah,” (emotional authenticity) “God, make me like Nehemiah,” (commitment to celebration) “God, make me like Peter,” (initiative) “God, make me like Paul,” (intensity).

THE LEADER’S PATHWAY: with “a fully yielded heart.” (216) There is the “relational” pathway, “intellectual,” “serving,” “contemplative,” “activist,” “creation,” and “worship,” pathways. “Resist the temptation to compare your pathway with other peoples’ pathways. Also resist the temptation to identify the pathway you wish were true about you. I call that pathway envy.” (227)

DEVELOPING AN ENDURING SPIRIT: “I’m thoroughly convinced that God is perfectly capable of helping each of us finish what he has called us to do.” (234) “Sustainability requires intentional, solution-side thinking and the courage to stick with a new approach even when you encounter resistance.” (243)

Stay the course. Stay the course. Stay the course.

— VIA —

I wrote in the back of the book, “Where my heart beats.” A fantastic foundation for anyone in any kind of religious service. I may just have to pick this up every now and then so I can be re-inspired.

About VIA

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