Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leader or follower?

It’s been almost a month since I typed out one of these Thoughts-for-Thursdays. It’s not that I’ve had no thoughts. But most of my thoughts have been aimed in other directions – namely a doctoral seminar and then recovering from a doctoral seminar. The seminar was on leadership. Thankfully, the seminar was not one of those overly pragmatic looks at the topic. You know the kind I’m talking about, those that tell you if you’ll follow these three easy steps you’ll be a great leader. Seminars and books like that don’t sit well with me. Life is never that easy.

This seminar pointed us in a different direction altogether. Namely, the readings and discussion reminded us that if any of us want to learn to be leaders in the Christian sense of the word, we must first become followers. The calling of every Christian (not just of pastors) is first and foremost Christ’s invitation to “Come, follow me.” It’s funny, for all the emphasis we Christians put on being biblical, when is the last time you heard about a seminar or conference on “Followership”? And yet, followers are what we are called to be.

Where does following Christ take us? If the words of Christ are any indication, following Jesus will usually take us in the opposite directions of our instincts: we are to love enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to return evil with good. We are to care for those who are different than us and to give to others without expectation of anything in return. I don’t know about you, but for me, none of those things come naturally, which makes it all the more important for us to work on our followership skills even more than we work on our leadership skills.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me – John 10:27

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