Ruling vs Governing & Why It Matters to Churches (and Countries)

A mentor shared with me yesterday that there is a difference between amy-way-or-the-highway leader who rules and a leader who governs.  My denomination ordains Ruling Elders but the Sessions on which they serve are called governing boards – and the way we lead makes an enormous difference in terms of the health of our organizations.

“Rulers” tend to:

  • Make decrees
  • Dictate
  • Eliminate those who disagree with them
  • Be bullies

“Governors” tend to:

  • Preside over
  • Oversee
  • Consult with
  • Guide

Consider pastors and other church leaders who rule with a heavy hand.  People fear them more than they respect them.  They may or may not get things done. But if they do, it’s not because the body necessarily agrees on the mission.

Pastors and other church leaders who lead in partnership with others – especially with a team of diverse perspectives and outlooks – create trust and a sense of respect for other voices.  They get things done but it takes longer.  Yet in the long run, the work sticks.

How do our congregations or church councils work?  The present and future health of our organizations depend on the answer.

Note: This also applies to Presidents.  Image source.  

One response to “Ruling vs Governing & Why It Matters to Churches (and Countries)

  1. Wow, interesting difference that I’ll be thinking about today.


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