Judah Smith, pastor of Churchome in Kirkland, Washington, took the stage at the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) Thursday afternoon to give a rambling talk on pain in leadership. Smith’s speech at times felt like a standup routine as he joked about sex, his church’s attendance, and not preparing for his presentation.
Judah Smith’s Talk at GLS
At the beginning of his talk, Judah Smith said his topic was “leading with pain,” quipping, “which brings me to the subject of marriage.” Smith co-pastors Churchome with his wife, Chelsea. “Just to be clear,” said the pastor, “in today’s economy and world, she’s the only person I’m having sex with.”
Smith jumped from point to story to anecdote, acknowledging that he was doing so multiple times. “Some of you are disgusted with my lack of preparation,” he said. “Well, I’m disgusted with your football team.” Another time, Smith joked about not having notes and said, “So what were we talking about?”
During his presentation, Smith discussed the dynamics of his marriage, remarked on the way Michael Jordan walks, and commented on Life.Church pastor Craig Groeschel’s attractiveness, comparing Groeschel to Tom Cruise and saying, “Grandpas can be sexy, hello.”
“Thousands of people have left my church,” Smith told the audience, adding that he was serious about that number. “We’re talking about leading with pain,” he said. “I didn’t come to play games…They didn’t give me the church growth session. They gave me the pain session.”
For part of his life, Smith believed that leaders had to appear a certain way and put on a good face. “I got so institutionalized around leadership and not showing weakness and not showing pain,” he said.
But later, “I started to realize there was a disparity, there was a delta, there was a canyon between who I really was and who people perceived me to be, and I started to realize I could make up the delta.” Smith said the reason that so many people have left his church is because he wants to be a more integrated leader, and they didn’t like what he was saying.
Pain in leadership is a result of the gap leaders feel between who they are and who people perceive them to be, according to the pastor. “I’m so tired of trying to walk a certain way for you,” said Smith, who acknowledged, “I have an anger problem currently.” He joked that the men he plays golf with are never going to trust in Jesus any time soon because of his struggle with anger management.