Aug 13, 2006

why bill hybels makes me mad

Today I got my first "perk" of being a mild-mannered (freelance) reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper... I got to get into the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for free.

Yeah, baby.

I know many of you are nodding your head whereas others are asking, "What is that exactly?" Picture some of the more noted Christian leaders in our world gathering together to speak candidly about leadership issues that have impact locally and globally. The list this year included everyone from pastors and consultants to Bono (yes... Bono from U2).

Traditionally, Bill Hybels (senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church) opens the summit with a session and closes it all out the final day. True to form, he tends to hit it out of the park in helping people of church or marketplace backgrounds to keep the main thing the main thing.

Bill's final message today was on clarity... something I've been needing in my life for about the past two years. If you're just jumping in I have been on a pilgrimage with my family to uncover what God's big picture plan is for us in the next few years.

We're still waiting.

Hybels had some good thoughts for about ten minutes or so on the power of clarity. Using the metaphor of a trumpet, he spoke about how a leader's responsibility is to keep things clear for the people instead of blowing all over the place with no clear direction. To leave your people guessing is pastoral malpractice, so to speak.

Keep in mind... I'm still waiting on God.

Then Hybels shared how he had felt the Lord lay on his heart to go in a different direction for this message than originally planned. This wasn't as spontaneous as it sounds, because I get the feeling that this didn't just happen today but perhaps a few days ago... who knows, maybe even a month. Honestly, the guy plans in advance. I know... I used to clean his office. That's another story, though.

Keep in mind... I'm still waiting on God.

So then Bill launched into a telling of the story of redemption. Starting in Genesis 1 and working his way to the very end of the Bible, he hit some key points about how Jesus Christ has given up his life to atone for our sins and substitute himself in our place. That is, should we receive him. All good stuff, but not what I was hoping for.

Keep in mind... I'm still waiting on God.

I started to get mad at Bill Hybels. I mean, who is this guy to spend so much energy on something so elementary when we were all hoping for some killer insight on how to hear from God or share things in a very clear way to our people? I know he's the big man and all, but I just found myself wanting to check out.

Keep in mind... I'm still waiting on God.

Then again, I've learned enough about God and myself to not discount such moments. So instead of leaving the room physically or mentally, I fought to stay in it.

Hybels spoke about what was about to happen next... that "real stories" would be represented in some element we were about to see.

"Baptism video," I quickly concluded and wrote off.


Set to David Crowder's arrangement of "Thank You For Hearing Me," people began to file up to the center of the stage from the back, each holding a poster board. On the first side the poster board showed trials, challenges, and hurdles they've faced in their lives (i.e. addictions, fears, selfishness, etc). Then they'd stop in the center of the stage and flip over their card as a way to illustrate breakthrough moments with God where his hand in their lives became clear. On the other side words were written to illustrate the redemption, victories, and healing He had provided (i.e. freedom, courage, passion for others, etc).

One of my favorites said, "40 years of playing church." The other side said, "10 years of being the church."

I started to break. I mean it... I couldn't keep it in and felt myself just weeping out loud, unembarassed to confess that I just love the Church and the unique way it manifests itself in the local church. Seeing these stories just wrecked me... and it was just what I needed.

That said, I think I even cursed a bit... perhaps at Hybels or perhaps at God. He makes me mad... with his passion for people and the things that really matter. Just when I thought I'd gotten to a place where I could go work some secular job (and leave behind professional ministry) I realized I am still head over heels crazy for the Lord and what he's doing in the world.

One day all this stuff will be peeled back and things will be clear. In the meantime, though, I need reminders and glimpses of what really matters and how the Holy Spirit is filling in the cracks of peoples' lives so that he might bring healing from the inside out.

Keep in mind... I'm still waiting on God.

But in the meantime, I know that it doesn't matter what tomorrow looks like.

Today I have people in front of me that need to be loved and brought to a fresh understanding of what reallty matters.

That includes the face I see in the mirror, by the way.
"Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice." (Psalm 51:8)


The Cubicle Reverend said...

This is awesome man. Well put. I understand what you are talking about. And yes, I do still have your book. I am sorry, I lost your new address, can you send it to me again?

Scott said...

Sometimes Bill gets me mad too . . . so does God. Before I even know someone is in my house they are in my kithen.

Katie said...

TONY (I'm screaming that by the way) because in my own way, in my own search for what God has planned for me, I've been waiting for much longer that is comfortable to me. I've been frustrated and mad and ready to throw up my hands and yet last night at church our pastor spoke on the main thing in our relationship with God by focusing on the text in Matthew where Christ is asked what the greatest commandment was . . . to love God and to love others. I remember thinking that I've heard this over and over again, and what a basic text it was. And yet somewhere in that sermon I realized that for all my waiting, for all my frustration as to what God had planned for my life, for where He wanted me, that maybe I had bypassed the main point for all the little points. Maybe this sermon, this text, that was so familiar to me, had become so dead to me. Maybe in all my waiting God was trying to teach me to do what He so desires from me, to love Him, to love others.

So this post, this experience you've had, the reassuance in the midst of all the waiting . . . . can I just say "me too"

Carolanne said...

"A fresh understanding of what really matters".. very well put and thought provoking.
I've gone and read most of the blogs on this page and enjoyed them.
You can assume I'll be a regular visitor, here.
Am I the first aussie to patronise your blogpage?

DJG said...

"I need reminders and glimpses of what really matters and how the Holy Spirit is filling in the cracks of people's lives so that he might bring life from the inside out."....really good stuff. I need this too, in my own way I am waiting on God too. But how many times has he had to wait on me?

bjk said...

I linked or my interpretation of 'linking' to you...loved IT and what you are saying about it here....

Sween said...

You write real well! I missed the Leadership summit this year and was interested Bono had a pre-recorded session there. Ahh, yes, Mega Church Hybels, I'm glad that works for him. Now if I could find what works for me...

Tony Myles said...

Interesting spin. For all I've known of Bill (and I only know him from a distance... except for that summer I cleaned his office and used the toilet in his private restroom), I've always sense his passion is not for the "megachurch" but for the local church. Perhaps the megachurch is just how God chose to bless his efforts, but I sense nothing inauthentic in his DNA.

Thanks for the comment!

Caroline said...

thank you for these words. i needed to read them today.

Andy Rowell said...

Thanks for this comment, Tony. I have read a number of accounts of the talk but yours is the best. I have also been inspired by Hybel's passion for the local church. Thanks again.

Andy Rowell
Taylor University
Department of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry
Blog: Church Leadership Conversations

Friar Tuck said...

I love this post...probably my favorite of anything you have ever written.


cool rita said...

Your transparency and honesty is what brings me back to your blog continually. Bill, you, me, anyone who lives ministry 24/7, aka "all who are called by God", are simply children who are still holding the hand of their Father and looking up to his face, saying, "Ok, dad, is this the right way, which way do I go, help me!" And the love that is in His touch is the same love you extend in your life, your writing and relationships. Are you ministering?, you bet, even if it's in these bloggings. Yes, God has given Bill Hybels a platform that most of us will never have; great, might even more benefit from what he has to offer. Again, only a mere man, holding the hand of God.

Anonymous said...

Remember this post?

Remember waking up this morning in Medina, OH?

Praise Him.

Terrace Crawford said...

Hi Tony,

Checked out your blog again today (last time being while @ the NYWC). I perused through to read this blog post which caught my attention by the title. Wow, good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you this Christmas...

Tony Myles said...

scrammy... yeah, dude.

terrace - glad you popped by again. Thanks for the encouragement.

jim said...

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

Opinions are great,but at some stage it will be time to move home.