It’s election time, and all the candidates are talking about leadership. Leadership in the buzz word in business, organizations and there is no shortage of people talking about leadership in the church. I have half a dozen books within eye shot that deal exclusively with the issue of leadership. We talk about leadership a lot, but I want to talk about something a little different. Followership.
I heard from Chris Tomlin once where he was talking about leading worship. He talked about how often time worship leaders spend a great deal of energy trying to get the congregation to worship, until he realized that wasn’t his job. His job is to worship God in a way that others can follow him. He can’t make people worship, be can only be the example. He shifted his focus from being the Worship Leader to the Lead Worshiper. That really struck me.
I don’t want to be the leader. We have spend too much time trying to be in charge. There have been leaders all through out the Bible who lead people astray. The Old Testament is full of kings who lead the nation astray. The Pharisees were religious leaders, and they led a large group of people. Jesus wasn’t very complementary of the leadership, even if it was very successful.
As Christians who have been put in positions of authority, we need to learn from the negative example of the Pharisees. We don’t need to be leaders, we have a leader. We need to follow the example from Chris Tomlin, instead of being the leader, we need to become the lead follower. Yes, we need to be out in front, we need to be setting the example, but doing so by following Jesus. We need to spend time in prayer and studying scripture and getting direction. We need to talk about following, being disciples and submitting to the authority of Christ. We are not the Generals, He is. We are Captains and Sergeants, we lead the smaller squads in this mission, but He gives direction.
I often wonder if we took this model how much better would we get along? We have so many different ideas, going in so many directions and pushing for so many agendas. How much of this is our desire to lead, our need to be in charge, and how much is us following Christ? Do we take the pulpit every Sunday, filled with pride because a room full of people is hanging on our every word? Have we filled our rhetoric with speeches of how people need to submit to our leadership? Have we begun to think of ourselves as God’s Anointed, when that position belongs to Christ alone (Christ meaning “Anointed of God”)? Maybe it’s time for us to abandon the position of leader and take up the mantle of lead follower.