Bus-Hopping (Thoughts from a Bus Driver – Part 4)

I’ve argued that leadership in most contexts is a lot like driving a bus. It’s a different view when you’re in the driver’s seat. I’ve suggested that we all should consider that our leaders are feeling the weight of leadership like never before. And I have asked you to remember that these chaotic days are truly unprecedented in so many senses of the word.

But I can’t finish this discussion without making some observations regarding the passengers.

Imagine being on that bus in the ice storm and the bus slips and slides up to a four-way stop. Imagine some of the passengers demanding to be let out of the bus.

Why would someone do that?

Some might insist that they must get off the bus because the driver is not being careful enough. They feel the driver is driving too fast for the conditions and not allowing enough following distance. They believe the driver was not giving enough attention and oversight to the passengers on the bus or was so consumed with the outside conditions that they were neglecting the passengers.

Others might want off of the bus because they were convinced that the roads were not as bad as the weather reports had suggested. They felt the bus driver was being unreasonably cautious—trying to protect them from things they didn’t need to be protected from in the first place. They were sure that the bus driver was reacting in fear to unfounded reports. Some simply could not stay on a bus when the driver was so cautious.

Absurd? Perhaps. But I have heard of a number of folks abandoning organizations and such for these very reasons.

I’ve been a pastor for a long time so I tend to think of these things in a ministry context—an entirely voluntary association. But I have heard so many stories and watched them paraded on social media as people have ranted and raved all of the reasons I have expressed here for leaving a group. In ministry circles, we’ve always called it church-hopping. But the same thing happens in civic organizations and workplaces and professional associations of every kind.

When someone wants to hop off the bus and find another because the driver is doing something no person alive has ever done in an unsatisfactory way… well, that says more about the person doing the bus-hopping than it does the bus driver, does it not?

If you’re one of these bus-hopping folks, would you please take some time to reflect on the heart of the leaders you’ve been so dissatisfied with? If you can see that, right or wrong, their decisions were made out of genuine care for the people they lead, would you at least acknowledge that? If you are sure they were motivated entirely by fear, can you at least understand that they were afraid of bringing harm to you?

I recognize that there are leaders who are not really caring people, but if that was the case you probably knew that before the pandemic came along. There are some folks who have needed to get off of their bus for a long time and perhaps the circumstances have caused you to see it. But PLEASE be sure before you jump off the bus.

The old adage about greener grass comes much into view… like, “the ride is always smoother on the other bus.”

I think it’s important to recognize that disagreeing with someone is not a reason to part ways. Every relationship gets stronger when we work through our disagreements to gain understanding. Do the harder work and value relationships more than being “right.”

These have been just a few leadership thoughts from the perspective of a bus driver. Thanks for reading. And for all of you that have been frustrated with your leader’s handling of things but have trusted that they have made their decisions out of genuine concern for the people they lead… thank you. As a weary pastor I can say this: the grace and patience I’ve experienced has been crucial to my survival… but then my CalvaryDuncan family demonstrates grace more effectively than any church I’ve been around. My heart is deeply grateful. And for my colleagues who don’t experience this kind of grace and patience I will continue to pray.

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