When You Disagree with Those Who Lead You, Part 1
I saw a full yard of grass today.
For those of you who reside in the south, that means absolutely nothing. But for me, a girl on the south side of Chicagoland, that’s huge. We’re officially defrosted!
Every year come January, I start to question every life decision that has led me to the frigid Midwest. When I’m cold, I’m cranky… And this year, I had several days that pushed me into the depths of the cranky zone.
Apparently, I’m not alone. The colder the weather got this year, the more nastiness I saw appearing on social media. And on two particularly icy days, the claws really started to come out on our school district’s Facebook page.
Let me set the scene. Our district’s policy is that school will not be in session on days where the wind chill reaches 25 degrees below zero. This year, our schools were closed three days for that reason. And then there was a day school stayed open because the wind chill was ONLY 20 below.
On each of the three days where school was closed, the criticisms against our superintendent were heated.
“What you thinking [superintendent name]?! Back in my day, we NEVER closed down school for cold. You’re breeding a bunch of weaklings. Don’t you care about the children?!!!”
And then there was that balmy fourth day where school did stay in session.
“What you thinking [superintendent name]?! I would NEVER subject my child to this kind of cold. You’re risking frostbite for everyone. Don’t you care about the children?!!!”
The conflicting criticisms might have been humorous, had the ever-expanding chain of comments not sunk to the deeply personal. The superintendent had a difficult decision to make, and regardless of what he ultimately did, the critics were quick to pounce. Unfortunately, his candid responses revealed that his critics had touched a nerve.
Isn’t that one of the hardest parts of leadership? Making the tough calls? The old adage is as true as ever, “You can’t please everyone.”
And so, of course, we know that our calling is to make the “right” decisions, as best as we know how, regardless of what widespread approval we may or may not receive.
But let’s take this one step further.
As difficult as it is to make the tough decisions, it’s often even harder to be on the receiving end of those decisions. Part of leadership is learning to gracefully and joyfully accept direction from those who lead us – even when we can’t fully understand or agree.
If your leaders can’t always please everyone, they probably won’t always please you.
Roman 13:1-2 tells us, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Paul is not implying that we act as mindless minions or give in to immoral, illegal or harmful behavior when leaders abuse their power. We should certainly give thoughtful input whenever and wherever our expertise and experience will benefit the greater good. But under normal, everyday circumstances, we also have a responsibility to lend our support to those who have been empowered and entrusted to lead us.
You see, leadership is all about influencing the thinking, behavior or development of those around us. So when those who lead us make the tough calls, we can in turn guide those we lead down a productive path through positivity and forward-thinking.
Rather than sabotaging our leaders through second-guessing and heel-digging, we can support their success through implementation, troubleshooting and encouragement.
Good leaders know how to effectively follow.
For me, that meant popping in some movies for my kids on the days when school was cancelled, and dressing them in extra layers on the days when it was not. My hope is that regardless of what I thought the superintendent should do, my kids would perceive he was right. That’s how I am led. And that’s how I choose to lead.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for those who will lead me today. I pray that you will grant them wisdom as they make the tough calls, and encouragement on those days when leadership feels lonely. Help me to be a blessing and a support to them today. Amen.
By Heather Day
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