Leadership 101: You Can’t Stop Stupid! And Trying to Fix Stupid Hurts!


“Teach the wise, and they will become wiser; inform the righteous, and their learning will increase.”– Proverbs 9:9

I have this saying.  It keeps me grounded and avoids unnecessary frustration in life.  During times of frustration with systems, I can’t change.  Or situations, where decisions are being made that not just me, but many others also think, will be disastrous.  It is a great time to take a step back and just remind myself, “You can’t stop stupid and trying to fix stupid hurts.”  Don’t take this saying the wrong way.  It is not a self-righteous approach, in that I know everything and this poor slob is an idiot.  No, it is based more on the painful life lessons that you can tell people things to try and help them avoid unwanted pain and agony, but at the end of the day, many of choices people make are out of your hands.  For me, the statement is empowering.  This philosophy of intervention says that you can bang your head against the wall of resistance only so long, but in the end, you can’t force people to do anything they do not want to do.  So, you have a choice keep battling, or sit back and provide support when they fail.  A very insightful quote to ponder, “Experience comes from what we have done. Wisdom comes from what we have done badly.” -Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School.

It is easy to be critical of leaders, that is often why leaders are resistant to listen.  If you have served in any leadership capacity, you have learned to be leery of advice.  While the outsiders see leaders as resistant to change, often the reality is a long history of being burned by advice.  With that in mind here are three ways to support the resistant leader in your midst.

Three Ways to Grow as a Leaders

  1.  Be willing to do more than just be managed – lead!

John Maxwell points out that “managers work with processes – leaders work with people.” [1]

As servant leaders you are not leading robots, you are shepherding the hearts and souls of saints.  To lead people well, you must be transparent and vulnerable.  Yes, you will get hurt as you lead sinners. To lead people, you have to give them space to lead and not just be managed.  This change in leadership philosophy will move you from a level one manager to a level five leader.

     2.   Invest in relationships.

“People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you.”[2]

One of the most overlooked aspects of leadership is the power of relationships.  When I was a young leader, I remember pushing a new vision for the congregation.  That vision- casting fell flat on its face because I had not won the hearts of my leaders first.  Our number one job as a leader is to connect with people.

       3.   Know when to push and when to back off.

“Successful leaders make the right move at the right moment with the right motive.”[3]

Leadership is a dance.  There are times to push the ministry, and there are times we need to pull back on the reigns.  As a leader, you need people around you who are brutally honest such as a team or an individual who has their finger on the pulse of the organization and can see things the leader may be missing or misleading. Reading the atmosphere of the organization will help us determine the appropriate next steps. Leadership is not easy but done effectively it can transform the lives of a ministry.

[1]The 360-Degree Leader, pg. 112

[2]The 360-Degree Leader, pg. 119

[3]The 360-Degree Leader, pg. 119

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