Now, if you know me at all, you know that I don't buy into all of the "leadership" emphasis that our world has, especially in the church. We talk about how to become a leader, what makes an effective leader, how to lead through crisis, and this and that and the other and we try to tell everyone what it takes to be a good leader, as though everyone is going to have an opportunity to lead and ought to be ready to take it. That's not the kind of leadership that I was talking about yesterday.
Because if you notice, Jesus doesn't call any of us to be leaders; He calls us to be followers.
The disciples, followers. When they become apostles, still followers. Pastors, followers. Preachers, followers. Elders, followers. Everyone in the Bible is a follower, and that's how God wants it - we are supposed to be His followers, taking after His steps and doing what He has taught us to do. We are supposed to sit at His feet and learn. Supposed to take up His cross and love. We do those things that Jesus has done, and yes, while they make us leaders sometimes in our world, let us not forget that we are first and foremost followers.
Yet we must be honest about the fact that someone, somewhere is following us. Every one of us has someone watching, seeing what we do, trying to learn from our life. It might be a child or a brother or a neighbor or a parent or a coworker or whoever, but we all have someone watching us, hoping that we're going to show them the way. That makes us, whether we intended it or not, leaders.
And that's what we're talking about.
We're talking about living in two directions - with one eye in front of us on the Jesus we're following and one eye behind us on those who are coming after us. Always watching the steps that guide our way, but watching our steps because we know they are guiding someone else. Being a sheep in a fold, but knowing that there are other sheep who aren't listening to the shepherd but are just doing what we do.
Ironically, when we lead, what we are really doing is teaching someone else to follow...someone who is already following us. And maybe you think they already know how to follow or they wouldn't be here, but they don't really. They're lost. If they weren't lost, they wouldn't be looking to us, thinking that we've found our way; they'd see plainly that the only way we have is His.
So we teach our followers to become real followers, not of us, but of Him. And in doing so, we become leaders, though we never stop being followers ourselves.
Clear as mud?
That's why this is so hard. The world talks so much about leadership that it's easy to get sucked into that vortex at the very moment that we realize that someone is following us, but the challenge for us is to not let ourselves fall for it. We're followers, first and foremost and forever. We lead only when we follow well.