Don’t you think it’s strange that the Bible talks so much about following yet our world talks so much about leading? I am extremely guilty of being caught up in the leadership loop. Most of the books I read are focused on leadership and throughout my work day, I am focused on how to be a better leader. When I am at home I pray about leading my marriage successfully. Leadership is engrained in my life, yet when I think about following it sounds freeing. It sounds like a breath of fresh air. So why do I not spend more time there? Why do we as a culture not spend more time valuing followership?
As I started to outline how I would frame this post I came up with two options. It could be very professional and focused on following as it pertains to being a better leader or I could take a biblical approach and speak to some of the ways that I believe following helps us stay in tune to Jesus. Without it seeming too cheesy or scripted I have decided that I can do both. Taking the biblical approach will address both our walk with Christ and our efforts to be a better a leader if that is a goal of yours.
Let me start by saying that everyone will need leadership. You may never lead an organization or run a company and that’s okay but I believe that leadership plays a role in everyone’s life. After all, you are in charge of one person every single day, yourself. So don’t dismiss this just because you aren’t leading and have no desire to. As some point, you’ll have to lead. To that same end, if you plan to use following just long enough to get into a leadership role, then you have it wrong too. We need always be in a state of following. That’s where humility lives. And I think that is why the Bible talks so much about following. Not just following Jesus but following authority in general. “Take up your cross and follow me,” most of us have heard that line. By following Christ the disciples were in turn leading a movement. How cool is that? Think about this, if good followers make a leader better then how important must it be for us to learn how to be the best followers of Christ that we can be?
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
After reading several articles and looking up verses I came up with some points to help with following.
- Resist control
- Sometimes it’s best just to let go. Often, we call it having faith. Faith in the things that we cannot control. When Jesus said that all we have to do is let go of our stuff and follow Him that is what He meant. Release control of the situation. In order to be an effective follower and really gain from the experience, we have to let someone else be in control. It is liberating to not be in control. I work on this every day but once I change my posture, I can feel the freeing effects of not being in control.
- Success as obedience
- In another instance, it makes sense for us to take another approach to how we view success. For Christians, we are doing our best when we follow Christ and doing the things that God calls us to. That is being successful. It is not how many people I manage or how much control I have in a given situation. Redefining success will allow you to be a better follower.
- Let someone light a fire in you. It is so hard to maintain passion and vigor when you are constantly stressed or chasing some dream from out in front. Follow someone on a similar journey and use them
- This point is my favorite because it is true and it stings a little. As Kendrick would say, be humble. I struggle in situations where I am not right. I fight it and find a scenario in which I can be right. In reality, I do not know everything nor am I competent in every task. And that’s okay. When we follow someone we are submitting to their authority and showing humility. Jesus asks us to do this. And I don’t believe He was meaning that we are to only be humble in His sight. There are so many times during the day when I have the opportunity to show humility. If you’re not careful you may just be humbled in an embarrassing manner
1 Peter 5:5 “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
If you go back to what I said earlier about the disciples following Jesus and in turn leading a movement, that is the fundamental piece that is missing today, especially among the millennial generation. Be a follower first and who knows, you may just be leading a movement at the same time.