Leaders Eat Broccoli

When I tell people that I am a bivocational pastor they mostly look at me as though I have just used an imaginary word.  Being bivocational means that I have a full-time “regular” job in addition to my pastoral duties.  But the word does sound made-up.  This doesn’t bother me.  There is a former president who used imaginary words on a fairly regular basis.  If he can do it, so can I. 

This is similar to the logic I used on my mother when it came to eating broccoli.

I’m sure that the first President Bush had plenty of important achievements when he was in office.  Sadly, I can’t remember many of them.  I was eleven when he became president and fifteen when he left office.  Those years of my life were spent thinking about more important things than politics, like girls and sports.  If I made of list of things I cared about during those years politics would have fallen somewhere between the dining habits of medieval royalty and the proper way to unclog a toilet using dental floss and a hangar.  I did not care about politics in the least.

However, President Bush did say something that caught my attention and provided ammunition in my quest to not eat anything that tastes similar to weeds.  Here is the quote:

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

Of all of the words uttered by mortal man throughout the history of time, these are among the most beautiful.  I realize that I may be overstating the significance of his words a little.  What is not an overstatement  is that this statement has been more beneficial to men than almost all of the other statements in the history of presidential statements.  It is straightforward.  There is no ambiguity.  No dictionaries required for this one.

President Bush declared that he did not like broccoli and that he wasn’t going to eat it and his words gave hope to millions of broccoli hating kids from sea to shining sea.  Maybe our moms wouldn’t keep cooking it.  Maybe people would get off of our backs about eating this cursed vegetable.  He did more for our cause with just a few words than all the temper-tantrums ever thrown. 

I’ve used this quote on an untold number of occasions and it works.  It worked on my mother, my friends, my co-workers.  It even worked on my wife.  For a while.

It doesn’t work on her anymore.

Part of loving and caring for the children God has placed into our care is encouraging them to eat foods that are good for them.  This includes foods that are gag-inducing. 

Unfortunately, there has been a problem in getting them to try eat things that they don’t like, including broccoli.  My wife, in all of her wisdom, astutely pointed out that the problem is me.  She told me that if we want them to eat broccoli then I had to be an example and eat it, too. 

I told that to my taste-buds.  They disagreed.

It didn’t really matter.  My wife is persuasive.  And in this case she is correct.  If I want my children to do something, I must be willing to do it.  I ate broccoli during supper the other day.  I did not like it, but it didn’t kill me.

Being a leader means being an example.  This is true no matter who you are trying to lead.  If you want your children to be kind, you must be kind.  If you want those you are around to show grace, you must show grace.  If I want those who call me Pastor to share Jesus, I must share Jesus.

Who are you leading?  Are you modeling for them the actions and attitudes that you encourage them to do and have?

Leadership is more than just words.  People are watching what you do and when your words fade the memories of what you did will remain.

President Bush may not eat broccoli, but I do. 

At least until the kids are grown.

(Ever done anything you didn’t want to do just to be an example?  Share away.)

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2 thoughts on “Leaders Eat Broccoli

  1. Bivocational pastors are holding many of our churches together. I fall in and out of bivocational status so I’m not sure what catagory I fall into. Leadership sometimes, as you have highlighted, involves stomaching things that are hard to chew.

    • Yes–hard to chew, taste, and even smell at times 🙂 I was in a little bit of bivo/semi-full-time limbo a while back, but am fully bivo again. It can be interesting at times.

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