I am not a mega-church guy. The churches I have been a part of have been small; however I am not a mega-hater either. I recognize big churches often have resources that smaller churches do not and are doing Kingdom work. I recognize my life’s call is different but I appreciate several mega-church pastors. One such pastor I respect is Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois. He is a clear and effective communicator, a follower of Jesus and a pastor with nearly forty years of experience. I admit that I have a bias for smaller more organic models of church, but you have to respect that kind of faithful longevity in ministry!
Hybel’s new book Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul shares practical insights for having a lifestyle of freedom in Christ. These are insights that Hybel’s has learned personally and through his experience as a pastor: They include:
- Replenishing your energy reserves.
- Organizing your schedule to reflect who you want to become instead of what you need to get done.
- Managing your finances
- Refining your working world (doing what you were made to do!).
- Making room for forgiveness.
- Conquering your fears.
- Deepening your friendships and relational circles.
- Claiming God’s call on your life by finding a life verse to give you focus.
- Welcoming new seasons into your life.
- Leaving a godly legacy.
Many of the practices that Hybels suggests correspond to advice you would find in self-help books; yet this is not just a self-help book with a Christian veneer. Hybels wants people to experience all that God has for them in Christ. So when Hybels talks about organizing your life, he isn’t just talking about time management that will make you healthier, happier and more productive. He is hoping to help you become what you were meant to be a Christ follower (35). And when he shares about choosing a life verse he isn’t just giving us the Christian version of a personal vision statement. A life verse is a passage of scripture chosen to reflect God’s purpose for your life so that you can focus on what matters most. In each of these cases what Hybels is pressing us to pursue is something far deeper and richer than its secular equivalent.
Along the way Hybels dispenses lot of helpful tidbits. Regarding forgiveness, he gives detailed pastoral advice on how to let go of the small stuff (level one offenses), and work towards reconciliation and healing when there has been a real wrong done (level two offenses) or when there is profound damage done (level three offenses). He doesn’t offer easy answers (simple doesn’t always mean easy) but gives guidance which helps us to pursue wholeness and healing. Hybels helps us attend to the health of our relationships and deeping our connection with other believers. I personally found his discussion of organization and finances to be insightful because he takes the two most coveted commodities in our culture (time and money) and illustrates how managing these well helps you experience the deep joy and serve God better.
Anyone could read this book profitably but Christians will find it particularly useful. I underlined and dog marked several pages which I plan to return to personally, and also because I think that Hybels illustrates well about how to talk about issues with others. Hybels is gracious in what he says and how he says it and I think I can learn from that. I give this book four stars.
Notice of material connection: I received this book from Tyndale so that I could share with you my honest review.