Thursday, June 21, 2012
Follow the Leader
There's a topic that I think needs equal attention however. How to be a good follower. Being a good follower is as important as being a good leader and can impact a leaders success. Interestingly enough I believe the life of Jesus teaches us a great deal about following the leader. Even leaders need to know how to be good followers because they are apt, in some areas of their lives, to not always be the leader.
In his time on earth Jesus had followers but he was also led. Jesus said that he came to do the will of the Father. (John 8:28) He was submissive and humble, not necessarily popular attributes, but important.
As a woman who is married to a pastor I've had an opportunity to contemplate this truth over the years from a variety of angles. Families and churches would be much healthier if leaders led and followers followed.
Here are just a few characteristics I believe a good follower exhibits:
Humility - those of us in a position of following need to be okay with not being the leader. Recognizing our submission to another's role helps define a healthy relationship. We all have equality in our value but we don't all have equality in our roles. We need to be okay with that. Leaders must leverage their power for the good of others and followers must respect authority without manipulating and undermining. Confident respect is healthy when followed through in submission.
Assume goodwill - unless otherwise proved operate under the assumption that your husband, pastor, father, or boss has motives of good. If it is proved they don't find out why, don't chuck the relationship, work toward restoration and healing. Leaders need appropriate accountability and at times correction. However, I've found when we believe in a leader, pray for them, encourage them, and follow well, the need for intervention is lessened.
Participate - don't just sit back and watch the leader do all the work. Just because you "wouldn't do it that way" doesn't get you off the hook of taking ownership. Leaders can't be successful if those they are leading are passive. If you are a part of a family, church, organization, country the success of those organizations depend on your willing participation.
"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." Hebrews 13:17
So in a day when the conversation turns readily to leadership let's not forget to follow. Nothing promotes unity in a family or a church like when the balance of leadership and submission are in place. Have you struggled with a resentful or suspicious attitude toward the leaders in your life? Ask God to help you overcome it and instead be a blessing to them. Leaders lead better when their followers follow.