What Pastors Can Learn about Leadership from the Shutdown


If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I rarely if ever post anything that is related to politics. While this post is about the shutdown, it is not about who caused it or a way out.

As I watched the news this past week and read through twitter I was struck by this question, “What does this shutdown say about leadership in our country? And, as pastors, what can we learn from this shutdown?”

So, here are a few things I think pastors can learn about leadership from the government shutdown:

  1. You give up something when you have a team. If you are a part of a team, which is almost every pastor, you don’t always get your way. That doesn’t mean you lose as a leader, it means your church or organization wins. I see a lot of pastors who want their church to do exactly what they want all the time and throw tantrums if they don’t get their way or they leave and find a church that will let them get their way. Revolution does not do everything I want it to do. There are things some of our leaders do that I think, “I wouldn’t do it that way.” A lot of times those leaders are right and it looks better than if I got my way. Being a part of a team means having a higher goal than getting your way.
  2. People respond to vision not reaction. The saddest thing for me about our government from a strictly leadership perspective is the lack of vision everyone seems to have. The ideals, hopes, dreams, etc. that are talked about are all in the past. There is nothing moving into the future to rally anyone to. Yes, we live in a divided country. When things are divided, leadership is needed. Leadership that will paint a picture of the future and not simply react to things. Leadership is about spending time painting that picture, not reading twitter and reacting to what you read. Often pastors see a crisis and then try to rally the troops. That rarely works. People do not start volunteering because their are openings. People do not start giving because the budget is falling short. They give, they serve, they are involved because of vision.
  3. Don’t whine about how hard leadership is. Leadership is hard that’s why everyone doesn’t do it. Leadership is hard. Leadership can be lonely. People take shots at the leaders because they are usually standing by themselves on an elevated platform so everyone can get a clear shot. If you don’t like that, you shouldn’t be a leader. No one feels sorry for a leader when it is hard. Why? Because everyone knows the leaders chose to be there. Pastor, when it gets hard at your church and it will. When people are critical of you, your vision, a staff member leaves, another leader is caught in sin, know that it is hard and you are the leader. Act like it. Show people the way forward. Leadership will take years off your life. It is stressful and at times painful. If it was easy, everyone would be a leader.