3 Leadership Lessons Learned from the Battle of Gettysburg


Three of the past four years, some of the senior staff from our Church has gone up to Gettysburg, PA for a leadership retreat.  Why they choose Gettysburg to go to is unknown to me (I’m not that senior of a leader :)), but each time we went there we would visit and tour the battlefield.

But, we didn’t just tour the battlefield by ourselves. We did a guided bike tour where we biked the battlefield and had a tour guide lead us.  It was really great experience. And the cool thing about it was that, just like every other time we went, we got to hear from a different Tour Guide who shared with us his perspective on the battle.

With those different viewpoints on the battle we got to hear new information and process it in a different way from years before.  Below are some of the leadership lessons I learned from Gettysburg:

  1. In the evening of day 1, Confederal commander Johnson had an opportunity to take Union General Meade’s supply depot.  However, he didn’t take it because he thought it might be a trap.  The Union troops came back a little later, discovered this and secured it again.  Had the Confederates gotten that it could have easily turned the battle in their favor.  Lesson Learned: Be cautious because, sometimes, if it’s too good to be true, it is a trap. However, seize opportunities that are presented before you.
  2. After the battle on day 1, the Union retreated through the streets of Gettysburg, but they didn’t leave the area.  Normally, when one army lost or were retreating, they would leave the area completely.  But this time they didn’t.  They stopped at Cemetery Hill and regrouped.  Ultimately they reformed and were able to fight the next day.  Lesson Learned: Sometimes we need to retreat and regroup.  That doesn’t mean we stop doing something, just simply that we regroup.  What do you need to reform and regroup?
  3. Union General Howard was nicknamed “Old Prayer Book”.  This was because of his devotion to praying.  Lesson Learned: We all have nicknames. Some can reflect a positive action or a negative one  What is your nickname and what is it representing about who you are?

Simple reflections but impactful ones…from 150 years ago.  Let’s seize opportunities…reform, regroup and go strategically…lead in a way that encourages people in a positive way. If we do this we can capitalize on some lessons on leadership from the battle of Gettysburg.

Join the conversation! What are some of the leadership lessons you have learned from military battles? Share them below or on social media using #ymsidekick.

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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