Bill Hybels: How to Fix America’s Angry Pastor Problem

Angry Pastor Hybels

Have you ever sat under the teaching of an angry pastor? Have you ever been an angry pastor?

“In the United States, we have a lot of angry pastors” who do funny things like “yell at people about grace,” Bill Hybels points out in the following clip.

In his quintessential style of drawing expo-marker visuals as he talks, Hybels draws a circle (perhaps representing one’s self or one’s mind) and then draws a horizontal line through it, dividing the circle in half. Above the horizontal line, he makes a mark, which is to represent a choice a leader has to make today, in present time. Then he makes another mark, below the upper mark, and under that horizontal line, which we understand to be the division that separates the past from the present. He then connects the two marks with a line, representing a tie.

What a lot of leaders fail to recognize is that the choices they make in the present day are often times tied to things in their past, and unless they do the inner work to identify and break those ties (when necessary), their present-day choices will continue to be influenced by negative things that have occurred in the past.

Hybels gives a person example that relates this principle to leadership: “When I was insensitive and I could fire people and yell at people and straighten them out, I didn’t know that that was directly tied to the consequences of growing up in a non-nurturing family.”

Perhaps the next time you hear a sermon being yelled at you, you might consider that the preacher had a “rage-aholic” father.

“Make sure that the decisions you’re making up here are not being adversely affected by something that happened back here,” Hybels instructs leaders as he points to his visual. “You have to do the internal work to be unfettered from all that stuff.”

What might you need to be unfettered from? A good place to start is to think of a time recently when you reacted to someone in an unhealthy way. Perhaps your reaction was unkind or harsh or perhaps you felt the need to retreat and withdraw. This may be a good place to start examining some of the negative things from your past that continue to influence your decisions and reactions today.