Reading List: The President’s Club
I originally picked up The Presidents Club as a fun read for our recent vacation. While I expected to find leadership applications for the church world, I wasn’t expecting to find quite so many similarities between being President of the United States, and the pastor of a local church. The book tells the stories of the relationships between former presidents, and how sitting presidents have leveraged them. What I didn’t think about heading into the book, though it seems obvious in hindsight, is the loneliness of the President’s position… and how few men know what the role is like. As I read the book, I couldn’t help but relate to the concerns, issues, and flaws of the men described in the book.
The book is an excellent, and engaging, read that I would recommend to any leader. The true power of this book for ministry leaders is the reminder it gives of the importance of having relationships with those who fully understand our situation. The life of the pastor is unique, it is complex, and it is something that few people outside of ministry will fully understand. It is vital that those of us in ministry develop life-giving relationships with those who get our calling, and can walk with us on the journey. Whether you find that community within a local network, or through coaching, finding these relationships are vital to your spiritual health.
Three quotes that I found particularly transferable to leading in the church context:
- In reference to John F. Kennedy, regarding the Bay of Pigs:
Presidents typically land in the office thinking they know better than their predecessors; having just spent an entire campaign convincing voters this is the case, they naturally come to believe it themselves. But then something of a chain reaction occurs: they win the office, then the office strikes back, challenging a president, chastening him, confronting him with all he doesn’t know.
- From George H.W. Bush (aka Bush 41):
We all understand the magnitude of the job when we decide to run for President. At least we think we do. But it’s not possible to fully appreciate the responsibility that comes with being President until you get that first briefing.
- From Harry Truman, shortly after becoming President:
I’m not big enough for this job.
The book gives a great deal of back story that in many ways explains how our current political situation was created, sheds light on many of the events of the last several decades from a political perspective, and it forced me to reflect on the utter necessity of being surrounded by those who understand our unique callings.
Who are YOU surrounding yourself with?