Leadership People Can Stomach

‘Borborygmus’? It was not a word I was familiar with, but I came across it while playing a dictionary game with some friends.

Borborygmus is a word which is certainly appropriate for Christmas time. It refers to the intestinal gurgling noises we sometimes get – more colloquially known as ‘tummy rumbles’. We might say it relates to the ‘personal plumbing noises’ we get as we digest, or feel the need to digest, some food.

Digesting the election

Borborygmus seemed a fitting concept the morning after the General Election which resulted in a huge majority for Boris Johnson in the Commons. No doubt many among the UK electorate, on both sides of the divide, are experiencing trouble digesting what happened. ‘Oh no!’ some are saying, while others, with relief, are saying ‘I can’t believe it.’

But whatever our political persuasion, surely there are lessons from the election campaign of which Christian leaders should take notice. What kind of leadership won votes?


Agree with him or not, there was no doubt concerning Boris’s message. He wants to drive through Brexit. By contrast Mr. Corbyn’s fence sitting concerning our relationship with Europe left people cold. Was he for it? Was he against it? Who knows? The trumpet has to make a clear call if you want to inspire people, 1 Corinthians 14.8. Preachers who are woolly about the gospel or elderships who will not lead clearly are not what the churches need.


It remains to be seen whether Boris Johnson will prove a just and even-handed leader. But the British people had voted for Brexit in 2016 and the connivances to frustrate the people’s decision by the last Parliament did come across to many in the electorate as the unfair actions of MPs who were not interested in what their people thought. Perhaps it was the anger over this in the country which made Mr. Johnson’s majority so huge.

Good Christian leaders will certainly listen first to God. But they will also listen to their people. The good shepherd knows his sheep, John 10.14, 15, and acts impartially for the good of the flock, James 3.17. Don’t let your leadership team become like those in the Westminster bubble, out of touch and listening only to themselves.


People can’t stomach too much gloom, finger pointing and negativity. One of Boris Johnson’s gifts is his ability to be optimistic about Britain and the future. Is this well-founded? We shall see in coming days. But Christian leaders have every good reason to be upbeat. Thinking of John Newton’s sentiment, we may be great sinners but we have a great Saviour.

Prime Minister Johnson closed his victory speech on the morning after the election with a playful ‘Let’s get Brexit done – but first my friends – let’s get breakfast done!’ A morsel of optimistic humour (not cynical humour) does good like a medicine, Proverbs 17.22, and helps people to stomach their less-than-perfect leaders.

Is that how we are as leaders: clear, fair and hopeful?