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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

on February 9, 2018
As a young leader rising up, I found this book really a really intresting read. His points are great and theres lots of parts in the book where he gets you connected and gives you advice you can apply. He doesn't just talk on and on about stuff and leaves you to figuere out how you're supposed to apply. He gives real life examples. Definitly going to reread with a pen and paper beside me in the future. I would strongle recomend this book for anyone Looking or already in a leadership position at a church.
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on April 29, 2013
Hybels, Bill. Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. 256 pages.

At my age and stage in life I have read many books but have never given much regard to offering my opinions about what I liked or disliked about any in particular. Having been assigned the task of writing a book review from a choice of books on an assignment list, I now wish I had chosen and studied a different one. Upon reflection of the content and spirit from which Courageous Leadership was written, I feel unworthy in taking pen in hand to dissect this book. How can I proceed with the intention of judging what its contributions to the discussion of leadership are and where its weaknesses lie? It is difficult for me to make any personal judgments leading to a like or dislike assessment that could affect potential readers.
The spirit in which this book is written is refreshingly honest. I found it gripping at times, sometimes causing my eyes to well up. At other times, when reading about critical decisions the author, Bill Hybels, had to make, I was engaged to the point of thinking, “no, don’t do it!” Sometimes I found myself saying out loud (with no one else in my office), “way to go Bill! Congratulations to you and your team for taking such a step in faith”.
How can I possibly write critically about such an inspiring book which, in essence, describes the beginnings of the Willow Creek Association, a world-wide fellowship which had its meagre beginnings in South Barrington, Illinois?
Bill Hybels serves as the senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and displays a very humble character. While Bill is a proven leader, he does not come across as, nor does he claim to be a Leadership expert (or Leadership Guru) such as Steven Covey and Peter Drucker. Bill’s passion is with the local church and he believes the hope of the world rests on local churches everywhere. He is investing his energy, time, and talents into trying to equip local churches with the necessary leadership skills to achieve that goal. “This is not a book on leadership theories, but rather on proven leadership practice” (p. 12).
The following is a listing of the chapter titles from the table of contents:
One: The stakes of Leadership
Two: A leader’s Most Potent Weapon
The Power of Vision
Three: Getting-It-Done Leadership
Turning Vision into Action
Four: Building a Kingdom Dream Team
Communities Close to a Leader’s Heart
Five: The Resource Challenge:
The Test of a Leader’s Mettle
Six: Developing Emerging Leaders
When Leaders are at their best
Seven: Discovering and Developing Your Own Leadership Style
The Key to High-Impact Leading
Eight: A Leader’s Sixth Sense
The Sources of Decision Making
Nine: The Art of Self-Leadership
The 360-Degree Leader
Ten A Leader’s Prayer
“God, Mold and Shape Me to My Full Leadership Potential”
Eleven: The Leader’s Pathway
A Vital Walk with God
Twelve: Developing an Enduring Spirit
Staying the Course
As can be seen from the table of contents, most of the topics of discussion are common among Leadership books with the exception of chapters five and eight. From the limited examples of Leadership books I have surveyed, this is the lone book which discusses the challenge of attaining the necessary, but often scarce resources and developing a sixth sense regarding decision making. These two chapters alone are worth the price of the book.
Bill writes with confidence but not arrogance, in fact he seems to eschew an arrogant attitude. I don’t believe it is coincidental that his authorship is identified as Bill Hybels rather than William Hybels. He admits that he has made a number of mistakes over the years but also concedes he has used these mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning.
In the early years my boldness and decisiveness were not matched by equal measures of wisdom and sensitivity…loving people were willing to continue the adventure with me while I learned (p. 11).

To say I like this book would be an understatement. This work’s main contribution is that it is not yet another book about mere Leadership theory, in which one is to pick and choose and experiment to see what works or doesn’t work. Bill identifies various situations Willow Creek has found itself in and describes the strategies that were used to navigate through the uncharted waters to achieve success. I also found myself absorbed in the riveting history of challenge and overcoming that Bill described during the three-decades-long development of Willow Creek. Courageous Leadership reveals two ongoing biographies. It was difficult for me as a reader to distinguish between the two biographies revealed as the pages were turned. On one hand I get a glimpse of the historical growth of Willow Creek through time, and concurrently get a glimpse of the man, Bill Hybels, and his leadership. Although I am introducing some melodrama, I will state that, in a way, Willow Creek is Bill Hybels (or vice versa). I found myself in awe as I read this historical development of Willow Creek and how Bill’s vision and budding leadership was instrumental in bringing it about.
As I continued to read chapter after chapter, I wondered how a man with a theology background could become so adept at creating and leading the development of such a large and multifaceted fellowship without a business background and the obligatory MBA. This was surely as difficult a project as building a multinational corporation! I believe Bill and his loyal group of visionaries grew Willow Creek naturally. I also gleaned from his writing that he made use of many leadership resources. Hybel states “I’ve read dozens of books on this topic…[investing in emerging leaders] and even experts disagree…” (p.131).
Later in the book Bill also goes on to say “According to some Leadership literature, the term…” (p.144). My point is that Bill appears to be well read on this topic. Bill knows why leadership and management are important. “What flourishing churches have in common is that they are led by people who possess and deploy the spiritual gift of leadership” (p. 26). This being said, Bill is the first to admit that he did not, and could not have lead Willow Creek to become one of the most attended churches in North America without the dedication of many others who shared his vision, and worked tirelessly to bring it into being. Part of what led to his success in leadership was his ability to determine who the right people were to lead and manage the various tasks that would make Willow Creek succeed.
The night after Willow’s twentieth-anniversary…I was able to whisk four of the church’s founding couples to a Caribbean Island… On the last day one of them said “I just want you all to know that I want to grow old with you…I want to die with this team” (p. 76).

Bill appears to work from a servant leader perspective in the style that John Maxwell favours in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I also observe that Bill leads with a transformational style of leadership rather than from a transactional leadership approach.
Bill’s fundamental belief about human beings is not one of fatalism. He holds people accountable to be their own responsible moral agents. When there is a personnel issue at Willow Creek the situation is studied to see whether the problem has arisen because it is a poor job fit, inadequate training, poor leadership or the employee’s lack of effort and poor attitude. “Whenever we are forced to let staff members go…we offer gracious severance packages…But extending grace does not mean closing our eyes to the truth in order to ‘be nice’” (p. 173).
In my opinion, the main strength of this book is its practicality. Courageous Leadership contains a running commentary of the challenges and accomplishments of Willow Creek and how those challenges were solved. I suspect many of these issues are not that different from many of the issues that perplex many organizations past and present.
This book will be appreciated by the new leader who is looking for tips and sound advice for his or her own mental database. It provides useful information to draw from should the need arise, and allows for adaptation for his or her own particular situation. Although this work falls short on theory and research studies, and as such is unlikely to be required reading for MBA students, I find this book to be a welcome and practical addition to my library on the topic of Leadership.
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on March 28, 2018
As described. Works great.
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on July 22, 2003
I have read a lot of books on leadership and I have read a lot of Hybles writings, but this simply is the best. For a Maxwellite this is a conclusion not easily made. This book should be must reading for every pastor, ministerial student and lay leader. In fact, if your Bible College or seminary does not require you to read it, sue them for malpractice. It is that good.
Courageous Leadership is a clarion call for pastors to step up to the plate and lead, to have the courage and passion not to abdicate leadership to church boards, committees or to every Tom, Dick and Harriet of the church. Hybles cuts to the quick: leaders get things done. If you are not getting things done, if you are not moving people toward a goal you are not a leader; and as a pastor if you are not getting things done you will soon lose credibility and your followers will lose heart.
Chapter Eight, A Leader?s Sixth Sense will transform your decision-making. Often leaders have to make difficult decisions with limited information that have the potential to make or break their ministry. Too often pastors, who by definition are like cocker spaniels- they like to be liked, put off their decision making until they have all the information and the outcome seems assured. What these pastors do not realize that by doing so they have, once again, abdicated leadership. If you are a pastor, or even a businessman who is in a position of leadership, BUY THIS BOOK.
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on January 27, 2003
Many younger and older pastors alike have stood in awe at the way God has used Bill Hybels at the Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago. Willow is currently the largest church in North America. Hybels is a dynamic speaker and author, in addition to being an extremely successful pastor. Now, he has gathered his leadership thoughts together in this volume, which is sure to be a great help to all Christian leaders.
Throughout this book, Hybels emphasizes the importance of possessing a Divine vision for God's people, then pursuing that vision relentlessly and casting it consistently. The author offers various thoughts and insights into what makes a great leader. Many of these lessons he has learned through his own "school of hard knocks" at Willow.
I recommend this book very highly to all pastors, regardless of church size or denomination. I always enjoy Hybels' writings, and this volume is undoubtedly one of his best. Don't pass on this one!
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on September 26, 2003
IF you want make a difference... then read this book!
Bill Hybels is a mentor of mentors. He has and is paying his dues. The thousands of lives who have been eternally changed because of his commitment to the Body of Christ is reason enough to give him your undivided attention. But Hybels has also written other books to recommend his expertise in building into the lives of others.
Hybels does not sugar coat anything. If you are looking for an easy job as a leader, especially as a church leader then Courageous Leadership might not be what you are looking for in a book on leadership. If on the other hand you are willing to think outside of the box, gladly give of yourself, not care who you empower to see success in a common goal then you will want this book in your personal library!
-- K. K. Dunn, Kansas City
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on December 9, 2003
This book appears to be written to provide direction to church leaders. Although I do not play a role of a pastor or leader within my own church, I learned soooo much from this book! It helps you identify how different personalities build their own spirituality. It gave me great insight to some of my brothers and sisters in the church and why they respond differently to new ideas. Bill also addresses several areas that are not often taught in the church but need to be and are completely scriptural. I found the book to be very inspiring and motivating and a must read for all church leaders!!
One person found this helpful
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on January 28, 2012
Courageous Leadership is a book targeting church leaders or pastors, with a belief that the Church of Christ can influence and change the world when church leaders can do their job right. B. Hybels tries to cover different topics within twelve chapters under the following categories:

1. Introduction: important of church and leadership (chapter 1)
2. Vision (chapter 2-3)
3. Resources management, preparation & generation (chapter 4-6)
4. Leadership development (chapter 7-9)
5. Spirituality of leadership (chapter 10-12)

As a leadership book, it really tries to cover more topics and discussions than other regular leadership book would do. For example, resource management is usually not having much discussion in the category of leadership, but they might fall under other book category, like management or organization behavior. Also, it is good to have lots of author's personal experience and references on how he went through those stages and what prove to be working for him. Therefore, it serves as a good introductory book of Christian leadership. It gives a broad and big picture for people who are new toward Christian leadership.

Despite its strength, this book does not give enough discussion and study toward any specific topic or area. For example, B. Hybels already uses two chapters to discuss vision, but it still might not give you enough detail or tools to help drawing a vision for your church. In other word, it requests reader to go for a more specific reference to learn about how to define vision for a congregation or a para-church. This situation applies to the other topics in this book as well. Also, this book has a loose structure, like chapter 9 (The Art of Self-Leadership) and chapter 10 (A Leader's Prayer), which does not fit into the flow very well. This might reveals another problem by borrowing the ideas from other authors without carefully integrating it into his style or make it more suitable to his tone. Chapter 9 (The Art of Self-Leadership) and chapter 11 (The Leader's Pathway) are some of those rough jobs. However, what I find this book less favourable to me because it is too personal. Even though it is good for him to share his successful experience, but it does not give out much room to discuss how some of his theory would work in other church with different size, traditions, culture, and so on. As a result, I do not consider it as a good book overall.
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on July 15, 2003
This is my first reading of a Bill Hybels. Maybe I was setting myself up for a great time. Instead, I was left with a guilt and shame feeling. Making people feel guilty that they are letting the pastor and the Kingdom of God down by not showing up for a meeting....that takes something.
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on February 18, 2004
The expectation from a Pastor of a church over 15k would be a book on dealing with the myriad of issues in such an environment.
This is a soft book, few challenging thoughts/ideas. IF you've read Swindoll, Blanchard, Hayford, Damazio, Maxwell and a plethora of other authors then you'll think you are in familiar territory. Frank Houston, Brian Houston, Kevin Conner and Ivan Herald will challenge you with every word, thought and idea.
Their books are not widely available sadly.
2 people found this helpful
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