Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Breakfast with Bill

Think about the heroes in your life. You know, those men and women that inspire you and make you dream bigger dreams and strive harder for excellence. Think about those individuals who have impacted your life for Christ…the ones who you are more like Jesus today because of them. Some of them we know personally. But there are others who have greatly influenced our lives but we have never had the privilege of meeting them face to face, shaking their hand, and telling them “thanks.”

I have three such guys. The first is Joshua of the Old Testament. He is my favorite Bible character. What a godly leader he was. As I read through the story of how he led Israel into the Promised Land, it produces a passion in my life to lead Grace Church into new territory as well. Obviously, I have never met Joshua. He was a little before my time.

The second person was a singer/song-writer named Keith Green. When I was in Junior High and High School, it was the music of Keith Green that inspired me to keep my eyes on Jesus during those turbulent teen years. Keith Green died in a plane crash in Texas. I never got to meet him either.

But this past week I did get to meet the third such guy. His name is Bill Hybels (pictured) and he is the pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Up until last Friday, I had never met Bill Hybels but his ministry has greatly impacted my walk with the Lord. I have heard Bill speak several times, both live and through video. I have read nearly every book he has written. In fact, outside of the Bible, the book that impacted my life the most was his writing, Honest to God: How to Be an Authentic Christian. I have also been greatly impacted by his other writings such as Too Busy Not Too Pray; Becoming a Contagious Christian; Courageous Leadership; and Just Walk Across the Room. No speaker or author has ever energized me like he does. His passion for lost people; for the local church and for effective leadership is contagious.

Last Friday, however, I was invited by David Ashcraft, pastor of the Lancaster County Bible Church (LCBC), along with about 25 other Christian leaders in our community, to a breakfast with Bill Hybels. For more than an hour we simply had a Q&A time with Bill on leadership issues. He then gave us information on the upcoming Leadership Summit that will be simulcast live to LCBC this August 9-11.

I’m sure that Bill Hybels did not return to Willow Creek talking about meeting me. But for me, it was a thrill to be able to introduce myself to him, shake his hand, and thank him for the impact he has had on my life even though up until that day, he didn’t know me from Adam (and probably still doesn’t). I’ll have to wait until I get to heaven to say “thanks” to Joshua and Keith Green, but I am thankful to the Lord that he gave me the opportunity to thank Bill Hybels here on earth. I left that breakfast recharged and recommitted to developing my leadership skills and courageously leading the ministry that God has given to me in order to see its full redemptive potential.

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