Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Follow {with excellence)

Leadership, leadership, leadership. It's all we hear sometimes, and all we talk about. 

Excellence in leadership is crucial to an organization, a government, a family, a church ... any institution, really. And I get it - leaders are important, and excellent leadership can carry us to success just as fast as poor leadership can destroy us. The Bible says a lot about leadership. We have so much to learn from the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Yes. I get it.

But what about followers? What is to be said about excellent follower-ship? As much as God teaches us about leadership, I'll argue that He has far more to say about following well. 

Because only a few of us are called to lead, but we are all called to follow. With excellence - we're to learn how to follow well, honor our leaders, walk in humility and support and help. Everyone wants to be a great leader but who ever would think of aspiring to be a fantastic follower? 

I, for one, would like to start a movement of excellent followership. Someone once said, "Lord bring revival and start with me." If you know who said it first, let me know - I can't remember or find the person to credit. But I often think it a pray it. I do know it was Ghandi who said, "Be the change you want to see." Regardless of who the leaders were or are - I want to follow in those steps. The steps that walk in humble submission to Jesus and those He has appointed to lead me. My husband. My pastors. My mentors. My parents. My boss. 

Something has been lost in our culture of rugged individualism and we the people. I think that loss saddens the heart of God. Submission has become a dirty word among us and we're in trouble because of it. I'm convinced that God has more instructions in His Word about following well than about leadership.

And I do get it. This doesn't come easy for me. I like power and control just as much as you do. Of all of the control freaks I'd be first in line. Submission and surrender seem like passive things, so why do they require me to work so hard to get them? I just think God has something to say to us about walking behind someone. Behind Someone. 

So how, about it? You there, Reader. The wife who knows it's her role to honor her husband but can't quite figure out how. The employee who desires to submit to his boss but can't stop cutting him down behind his back. The church member who wants to respect his pastor but just keeps trying to get closer to him so he can get a hold of the power and make the decisions. The teenager who knows it's right to honor her mother and father but can't stop the back-talk. The Christ-follower in name but not in deed, who talks the talk in the day but can't seem to walk the walk in the darkness. 

What if we could deny our flesh and become the followers God has promised He'd make us if we'd just cooperate and surrender?

I've got a stack of verses beside me right now about following, and I'm deciding how many I can fit into this post. I'm half-way tempted to squeeze them all in, but I've been in your seat: ready for the punch line, the bottom line ... the point. So I'll get to it. 

“If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me." - John 12:26 (Msg)

akoloutheó is the Greek work that means accompany, attend, follow

I can either busy myself trying to make God follow my bidding, or I can follow Jesus, ready to serve Him. I may be a leader, but my first job, my first joy, is to follow. To switch the two is to falter and then fall. I don't want to be a fall-er, I want to be a follower. It's there I'll find the Father's reward. Which is all that's really worth reaching for, anyway.

One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus. - Eugene H. Peterson

What about you? What has God taught you recently about following? 


  1. Kind of reminds me of that old saying "too many chiefs and not enough indians". I am so thankful He gave us an example to follow and many, many times I have been thankful that I get to fall under the umbrella of my husband as the leader of our home. I thank God often that He allows me to have a husband who follows Him so diligently. Following his lead as he follows God is so much pressure off of me. In our constant striving to be leaders, I think we often forget that those who lead will be responsible for so much more, including outcomes of where they lead.

    Following requires more faith, and in our epidemic of control, maybe that's why we are so quick to try to take the lead.

    1. So profound, Amy. "...epidemic of control" - that really makes me think. Thank you so much for sharing!