He knew he wanted to be a preacher since he was five years old and saw his dad preaching. What he didn’t know is he was terrified of public speaking.
Houston said, “Preaching came hard. As the son of a prominent pastor, I put unnecessary pressure on myself. It took a long time to be comfortable in my own skin.”
Hybels said, “People might assume you’re living large and that it’s all been easy, but your book shows how hard it’s been and that the hardest moment pertaining to your dad had to be dealt with in a very public way.”
“It was the worst day of my life. It was 1999. I was in a meeting, and the last line of the agenda was news that my father had abused a young man in the church many years ago. I had looked up to him and it was horrible news. There was huge fallout. I didn’t handle my emotion well. I went into leadership mode… and I looked after myself last. It’s still an ongoing struggle (both emotional and legal).”
Hybels asked about changeover in the church. “I have a theory. Who you start a church with is not necessarily who keeps it going. Would you agree?”
Houston shared, “Sometimes those who say they’ll be there till the end, end up leaving and those you think are flighty, are the ones who end up building. That’s why it’s important to invest in people.”
“Not all your sons and daughters stay with you. There can be grief involved in that, but I never try to hold onto people who want to move on. Sometimes people move across the world, but are still close to your heart (sometimes you feel even closer).”
Hybels said, “You have planted Hillsong churches in tough areas like Copenhagen and the Ukraine. Will you share your thought process?”
“I’ve always been inspired by big cities of influence … We wanted to build churches there that can impact culture. We don’t go to the Bible belt, we go to harder cultures and the culture of the church seems to work there,” Houston shares.
“We built a Hillsong church in London and they stayed true to themselves (versus building a “London church” for London). You must get the right places, at the right times, and the right person and God will bless it.”
Hybels asked, “The upcoming Hillsong movie shows the phenomenon of the church, the culture and the music. How did this all happened?”
Houston, “It’s an amazing story. Someone from Hollywood came to the Hillsong conference and was promoting the film Noah. Then he went to watch Hillsong United at Hollywood Bowl with a producer. This producer wasn’t a Christian. During the concert he snuck up to the front and God impacted him… He wanted others to feel what he felt and to be impacted as well. The film was paid for and put together by Hollywood. It shows a backdrop of the church and shows how the band agonized over writing songs for the Empires album.”
Finally, Hybels exhorts Houston’s faith. “Every time I leave your presence, my faith is expanded. You have an anointing on your life that allows people to believe God can do great things. Where does that come from?”
“Those are kind words. Thank you. … I think it’s about loving the Lord, the church and people, ultimately. That motivation never left me even in my darkest days. I never got away from vision God put in my heart. Leaders keep getting up when they’re knocked down. Longevity is perhaps the greatest strength anyone can have as a leader… And it’s because you love people.”