The Courage Leadership Requires. Bill Hybels at Willow Creek GLS



The Courage Leadership Requires. Bill Hybels at Willow Creek GLS

Dt 31:7-8

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”


The charge to the younger leader.

But why would it need such courage?


Later God himself speaks to that younger leader in Joshua 1. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous.


Why do I need to know that?

He soon learned!

Leadership demands a non stop flow of fortitude from day one, to the end.


Courage correlates to every component of leadership; You need courage for…



–       A picture of the future that creates passion in people.

God didn’t make you a leader so you could pontificate or preside, but to MOVE people, from HERE to THERE. And then – to THERE!

Looks great on paper. But in the battles of life we find that it takes courage to cast a God-honouring vision and see it happen.

To say, ‘we can’t stay here…’

Every significant vision is going to put your heart to the test.

Some will always resist

Others will only ‘wait and see’

That paralyses leaders.


So guess what a lot of leaders do?

They kill a vision quietly. Send it back to God marked ‘too risky.’

God has sent millions of visions to millions of leaders to change the world for the better to leaders young and old, only for them to be snuffed out. But nobody else knows because it’s killed in secret. Because gutless leaders didn’t birth them – who’s to blame?

Have you an amazing vision – to start a new business or church or reform government.

But you lack – one thing; courage.

There’s no point beating yourself up about it.

Personalise the Joshua charge. Speak it to yourself!


Then – Step out.

Don’t go to the grave with that vision inside you.


Visions are holy commodities – treat them with respect.


It also takes courage to…




You are always leading in a situation that’s;

An upturn

A downturn

A status quo


And all of them need different leadership.

Which reality are you in?


DOWNTURN – declare an emergency! There’s a fire! Call 999! Admit it and plan a way out. Everyone has to drop everything and help out NOW!  You have to be dramatic about this.


STATUS QUO – You have to start a fire! Create a sense of urgency. This is not acceptable but extremely dangerous. Get everyone to pray and plan a way forward.


UPTURN – put petrol on the fire. Encourage younger leaders. Get the most out of the season.


The toughest part of this is to admit what reality you’re in. Is your church losing steam? Are you in denial of a downturn? You may feel like a terrible leader, pastor and Christian because this happened.

But the truth is, if you lead long enough – you will go through all three realities.  You can lead out of it; if you recognize it.


Your whole team knows what reality you’re in. They are waiting for you to see it and declare it.


Whatever you are most responsible for leading right now – what’s the current reality. Be courageous enough to identify it. Then ask, ‘Am I circling the right one?’


It takes courage to…




 What’s the health of your staff team? If there was an anonymous staff survey? Really?


‘The Best Christian Workplace.’  Assessment.


Flourishing ; 4:25


Healthy ; 4:0


Toxic – 3.75


First pass at Willow was just above toxic. They had work to do. A year later they were a little better.

Working, talking, apologizing, building trust.

You can tell when you get healthy!


People join organisations – they leave managers.

Look at exit interviews.

‘I love the vision, but my manager was mean. He was crazy.’


You need to let the people on staff know you are every bit as concerned about growing them as growing the church.


These days, Willow is flourishing!


Whose job is it to make this happen? The senior leader has to change it. Staff cultures will only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be. Delegating this to HR is the kiss of death.

You need support to HR but to delegate it is to doom it.


Enormous change, brave apologies etc. may be needed, for what you have done.


You sometimes need to say, ‘Unless you are fully committed to being part of this beautiful new culture, we are no longer going to pay people to bruise our bust our flourishing culture.’


A flourishing staff performs so much better. If there are 10 people in a boat, where only 3 are rowing, 5 are napping and 2 are trying to sink the boat.’


Compare that to 10 rowing together; Who’s going to win the race?


So, how healthy is your staff culture? Are you too cowardly to measure it? To inspect it? To get someone in from the outside to really find out.

Fix your culture.




Social media makes a lot of things easier. It helps get our messages out. It connects us. But…

The more I use social media, the more I get hungry for face to face connection. Real, true community. In person, face to face.


Social Media provides the illusion of community.


And if we’re not careful, the larger we grow, when people come looking for community – they won’t find it. You have to build little communities in the church. Establish face to face connections.


Every weekend there are people coming in with tears and broken hearts. Who reaches out to them? Who listens? Who extends compassion? Do they go out lonelier?


Is this a value for you? Not just a suggestion. Not just something you cast vision for. It’s how we will behave here. Like women’s ministry, or racial inclusion. An inviolable value – and you can like it or leave.  To have the courage to say, ‘We will behave differently now. We will not allow burdened people to come in and go out without being welcomed and connected and loved.’


What is there that you care deeply about in your organization that you wish, long and  hope would change? Maybe you need to pray, ‘Do something in me.’ 

Then declare ‘Today is the day, it will happen from now on.’


This is the difference between level 4 and level 5 leaders.


There are so many leadership issues that require courage – to lead in spite of Criticism.


Or Disappointment.


Be strong and courageous! With God’s help, you can do it.


When your marriage is struggling, or your kids. You need that courage…




It’s easier to start than finish. You are going to have to reinvent the organization and yourself. You are going to have to say goodbye to staff people you love.


You have to summon the courage to look at succession.


Some of the most rewarding experiences in the leadership marathon are reserved for later in the race.


So DO NOT bail on your mission, no matter how tough it gets. Endure. Finish strong. The time for courageous leadership is NOW.