It happened again recently.
I heard yet another pastor talking about teaching in an effort to highlight other important aspects of leadership. I’m sure the pastor meant well, as I’m sure all the pastors who take similar lines of thought mean well. An I understand why people would make statements to that effect. Pastoring, after all, is more than preaching a sermon on Sunday morning.
Here’s the thing, I disagree with the very idea of holding teaching and leadership in opposition to one another. To me, leadership is always teaching. It’s just that not all teaching is lecturing.
At first thought, saying all leadership is teaching might seem ludicrous. Leaders, after all, need to utilize a great many skills besides the ability to lecture 1. They need to know how to listen to others, be able negotiate between people with opposing views, and have vision to see structural weaknesses and navigate through them. I don’t discount all these skills, and more, are needed in order to lead – but in each of these aspects of leadership I still see teaching as the primary skill needed.
When a leader listens they teach people that all voices are worth hearing, even if we don’t agree with what’s being said. When a leader negotiates between differing views they teach people how the “other” is a human-being, worthy of respect and value. When a leader is able to identify and navigate structural weaknesses they teach others a path forward is possible, even when folks may think otherwise. Leaders teach by example, by asking questions, and even by allowing our own minds to be changed. Sometimes, we even lecture.
But we are always teaching.
- Or preach, in a pastoral context. ↩