Tag: Bill Hybels

Missing Jesus

This is a picture of a stadium filled with women waiting for Jen Hatmaker to appear and speak.

This is a picture of me preaching recently at a church near us. (No, I didn’t move in. Those are props).

Looks pretty bleak, eh? There might have been 65 people in the congregation.

The guy doing the slides forgot to start and then kept clicking through trying to find the right one to fit with what I was saying. Just a tad distracting for those listening.

I’ve been a guest preacher here before, and there’s usually a young man with some challenges who burps loudly when I preach.

They had cobbled together my lapel mic which didn’t have a clip to attach, so it fell apart towards the end of my sermon. But hey, it was good practice for my ninja-like reflexes.

Yep, me and Jen…

Then, last Sunday I preached at different church, but it looked pretty much the same. Afterwards I was expecting out-of-town guests for brunch at home, about half an hour away, so I was anxious to bolt out the door at the end of the service.

So anxious that I blew off Jesus in my rush to exit.

After realizing who I missed, this is what I wrote in my journal:

Jesus, You were there yesterday! After worship You came up to me and awkwardly requested “a conference”. 

You looked like a crazy old man…kind of like a mad scientist with wispy white hair growing places where hair shouldn’t grow.

I had talked to You before and in my mind labeled you a little “off”.

Because I didn’t recognize You, and because I had to hurry home to prepare for guests coming for brunch, I said, “I’m so sorry, I have to go…” (READ: I have more important commitments with sane people.)

You handed me an offering envelope and asked if I could send you my sermon transcript. 

Later in the afternoon after my guests were gone, I thought, “What if it had been Bill Hybels who had stopped me?” Would I have rushed off, or would I have made time? What if it had been Jesus?

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

Oh Lord, have mercy. Please forgive me. Help me to be present to You, to the Imago Dei in each person I encounter today.


Filling Your Bucket

The Minnesota State Fair started last week.  The unofficial mark to the beginning of the end.

The end of the glorious season of going “up north”, going to DQ, and not going inside til neighborhood kids stop playing tag when the sun finally fades at 9:00.  Biking the lakes, going without shoes and without makeup.


We estimate church attendance goes down by 30-40% in the summer and we get it.  We live in a state where the only month that hasn’t had snow in recorded history is July.

People in MN play hard in the summer.  There’s a concerted effort to fill up.  To fill up with family time, sunshine, hide-n-seek playing, tubing, and kayaking.  We do summer big.

And then all of a sudden it’s school time again and we’re all about busy and schedules and no margin.  And sure, there’s a part of us that craves the order, but with it comes the stress of too much stuff and too little time.  

It’s got me thinking about the rhythms of our lives.

Bill Hybels says, “As a leader, the best thing you bring to the table every day is a filled up bucket.” 

I’m thinking you could substitute “parent”, “teacher”, “”boss”, “coach”….or just “person” for “leader”.

As a person, the best thing you bring to the world every day [of the year!] is a filled up bucket.

So how do you do that?  If you think of some the different areas of your life – spiritual, physical, relational – what rhythms do you have that keep you replenished so that you don’t just deplete, deplete, deplete, and then madly try to fill up?

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Resource Christmas in August

I’m honored to be live blogging this week at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for Engage International which is part of the Willow Creek Association.   I’ve also been facilitating on line classes for the WCA called LIFT (Leadership Institute For Transformation).  I’d encourage you to check out all the resources Engage and the WCA provide here!

Here’s the beginning of my post for the first session of the Summit…

Every year my husband John and I would say the best two weeks of our summer are the ones in August when we bring a large group of staff and lay leaders from our church to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, and afterwards go on a staff family retreat in northern Minnesota.

We show up expectant, thinking, “What will God do this time?”

And every year after Bill Hybels’ opening talk, without fail, John says, “Well, I can go home now!”  He’s filled up and recharged, but is always glad we stay around for the “B team”. 🙂

Bill’s talk is always a combination jolt of Red Bull, and a Brave Heart “Get off your butt” rallying cry.

Which is great if you’re a senior leader like my husband.  But I also try to listen through the filter of the young mom, and the staff administrator, and the librarian, and the retired radiologist elder we’ve brought with us.  You know, ordinary folks with ordinary lives who are definitely leaders of their family, or PTA, or church committee, or office staff, but may think “Is this really for me?.”

You can read the rest here!

Prayer Failure “So that…”

I understand prayer about as well as I understand car repair.  That is to say I might recognize some of the bigger parts, like the engine, say.  But how the whole thing works?  It’s totally beyond me.

Still, I pray.  The illustration that has been most helpful to me in framing my prayer life is that of a small boat on a lake, tethered by a rope to the shore.  We, in the boat, would be crazy to try to make the shore move to us.  Instead, our job is to pull ourselves to the shore.  In other words, align ourselves with God’s will and pray that way.


I’ve written before about a question that helps.  In 2 Kings 19 Hezekiah prays:

“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.”

I was moved by Bill Hybel’s challenge to ask ourselves, “What is the ‘so that’ of our prayers?” 

It would seem like praying things “so that” God would be glorified and His kingdom would be furthered on earth would be a sure thing.  God’s will, right?  Well, apparently God and I aren’t on the same page on this one because He has been totally unpredictable in this department lately.

A few years ago I was moved by the need for clean water in the world.  I started praying about raising money for a well.

We had just bought our first stock.  Ever.

In a passionate moment of prayer I committed every penny we would earn from that stock to go towards a well so that kids in Africa could have clean water and God would be glorified.  Doesn’t that seem like a prayer God would want to answer in the affirmative?

Our stock was BP.  The oil spill happened a couple of weeks later.  We still haven’t recovered our losses.

Still, I prayed and was committed to raising money for water.  Some friends and I did a fund-raiser.

The first time I prayed and we had moderate success, but certainly not the dramatic answer I thought would honor God.  Why didn’t He want to show off?

The second time, I prayed more.  A lot.  I did prayer walks around the place where we were going to hold the event, repeatedly asking for God’s favor so that kids could have clean water.

We had about 12 people show up and we raised $135.

“LORD!” I yelled!  “What’s up with that?”

Still, I prayed.  But with a lot less gusto.

Then last Sunday, after more prayer and preparation, we did a fund-raising brunch at a nearby restaurant.  We raised more than $8000 and then had someone offer to give $15,000 more!  Two wells, not one!  Over and above.  Abundance beyond my prayer.

Why?  What was God’s “so that” in all this?

Isaiah 65:24 says “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

Did He delay so that He could form something in me or others in this drawn out process?

So that He could teach us to trust Him more?

So that He could teach us perseverance?

I don’t know.  Prayer is still about as foreign as car repair to me, but I’m thinking maybe God’s “so that” is more important than mine.

Do you have any experience with prayer like this?

Draining the Daunt on Fearless Friday

For those of you new to this blog, you may want to read about One Word and our Fearless Fridays.

I’m flying to Chicago today to speak at a retreat for the church where I grew up, and yes, I’m a tad nervous.

Some (many?) of the women who will be there know me.  You know… in a way that can be embarrassing.  They watched me grow up and they introduced me to my husband and they were at my wedding.  They have seen a lot of awkward.  And perhaps remember some ill-advised words or jump-before-you’re-ready-moments.  This is a bit…daunting.

What’s ahead of you today that requires “undauntedness”?

What is it that helps us to walk secure into situations like these?

There’s a message that Bill Hybels preached a few years ago that I have thought about more than most and it’s been helpful in this daunting stuff.  In the message Bill talked about Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19.

The Assyrians are coming against the Israelites.  The king of Assyria sends a letter trash-talking Hezekiah and the God he holds fast to.  Hezekiah could easily have been daunted by this super power of the ancient world, but he spreads out the threatening letter before the Lord and prays.

“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.”

The key question that has rolled around in my brain as I’ve prayed ever since is, “What’s  your ‘so that’?”

Whether it’s anticipating a really hard conversation or confrontation, or a big project or a new business venture, or a physical goal, or an application… if there’s fear associated with it, it must be important to you.  Why?  What would you say?

“This is important to me so that…?”

Really?  There’s a lot of muck in our many motives.  But if our “so that” is to bring glory to God it drains the daunt out of the situation.

Because if we’ve worked as hard as we can to prepare, and laid out our situation before God, and can honestly say “I think…as best as I can tell (and I know no motives are completely pure) I want to do this well so that You will be glorified.”

Then it’s not about us.

We have nothing to lose and nothing to prove. The ball’s in God’s court. We can relax and move ahead undaunted.

It’s up to Him to add His “extra” to our “ordinary”, His “super” to His “natural”.

Because “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)

How’s it going with your One Word?  I’d love to hear what you’re learning!


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