Book Review of Bill Hybels Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Book: Bill Hybels, Axiom:Powerful Leadership Proverbs, (Zondervan, 2008)

Brief Review: This was a book I “knew” I would not like. I was wrong.

I could quibble with Hybels about some points of theology that slip through, but the bottom line is that this was a fantastic book on leadership. The 76 aphorisms or axioms that Hybels lays out in this book are short, practical and memorable. As such, they are bite-sized energy bars for the leader who wants to energize and focus his best efforts and grow as the leader.

I was surprised to find that the chapter titled Read All You Can (Ch. 65), was one of the most convicting and challenging. I read a lot. I have a personal library of over 4,000 books. I read broadly. History, theology, novels, magazines, blogs, biography, devotionals, church planting and more are all on the plate. But Hybels showed me that I have neglected for some time a category that once was a strength. I have neglected reading in the area of leadership. Duh? How did that happen? I’m not sure. But I can tell you I’m motivated to change.

Most of Hybels axioms are phrased as simple declarative applications.  Examples:

  • #67 Always Take the High Road,
  • #27 Get the Right People Around the Table,
  • #53 Find the Critic’s Kernal of Truth,
  • #37 Leaders Call Fouls

This makes them easy to remember and the stories told to illustrate them are mini-messages that travel with the reader easily. Others are helpful questions that capture greater concepts related to leadership and management in the local church (#26 How are You Doing … Really?, #49 Is It Sustainable?, #57 Did We Do Any Learning?, #61 Are We Having Fun Yet?, #64 What Life Are You Waiting For?)

#49 “Is it sustainable?”, I found particularly relevant and probing.

I also loved the principle of #35, The Umbrella of Mercy. How much more productive my future brainstorming sessions with staff and volunteers will be with this simple concept working to allow maximum creativity in an atmosphere of mercy and trust.

Two chapters that really stood out for me where numbers 1 and 10, Language Matters and The Value of a Good Idea. For years I have said to my congregation, that a “large part of a pastor’s counseling role is to gently and sometimes not so gently remind people of things they already know. In these two chapters, I felt like Hybels was reminding me of things I once practiced and somehow grew weary of doing. (Shame on me. Lord Jesus, forgive me.)

About the only thing that I might feel uncomfortable with is Bill’s bluntness. At times, it sounds arrogant in my ears. But I am willing to give him grace. My “ear” might be inaccurate and the book is so helpful overall that I am too appreciative to discount the rest. I think I am going to reread the chapter on Create Your Own Finish Line every week until I get it down in my own experience.

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One thought on “Book Review of Bill Hybels Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs

  1. You said, “This was a book I ‘knew’ I would not like. I was wrong.”

    I say, “This was a post I ‘knew’ I would not like. I was wrong.” I know in my gut that I can trust every word you say, but sometimes I forget. I am glad that I withheld judgment and read it anyway.

    Simply said, I am challenged to read it for myself so I can get the full benefit. Thanks for showing the way.

    In His Love,



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