October 30, 2017

How a Man I've Never Met Changed My Life

Willow Creek Community church recently announced in their weekend services about a succession plan for Bill Hybels, who is the founding pastor and has been there for 42 years.

When I read about the announcement of the succession plan, it caused me to reflect on how God has used Bill Hybels in my life (and in the lives of countless other church leaders). 

I’ve never met Bill Hybels in person. We’ve never talked. But I’ve been to many leadership conferences where he spoke. I’ve read every book he has written. I’ve listened to numerous of his leadership podcasts. I’ve listened to hundreds of his sermons.

I’ve heard him speak so many times that I feel like I know him personally. I know his wife’s name, his kids’ and grandkids’ names, his favorite vacation spot, and what town he grew up in.

Here’s what I remember most about Bill Hybels: his passion and vision for reaching people far from God. When he would cast vision at church leadership conferences about what a biblically-functioning church could look like, I could hardly move in my seat because what he said gripped me so much. I would tear up as he would talk. I came to the conclusion that I had to be part of a church like that, or die trying.

We all need mentors. I’ve often said, “You don’t have to know someone personally for them to mentor you.” Bill Hybels has been a mentor of mine. Through those 42 faithful years of ministry, he has made mistakes. I’m sure he would do some things differently. At times, ministry has been unimaginably hard for him. But he has always kept his integrity. I respect him so much for that.

Hats off to a man who changed my life.

Be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
(1 Corinthians 15:58).

Whatever it takes,

Jerry