“Follow Gods example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice is like sweet perfume to him.” Ephesians 5:1,2 New Living Translation
When we were children we played a game that in many ways was preparing us for our future rolls in society. It was a simple game, the rules were easy, and as long as you followed along
you remained a viable member of the group. But stepping out of line while participating in the game disqualified you from having an active part in the continuing process of the game. Have you figured it out yet? I’m not sure I could based on the clues I have given! Follow the Leader was just one of the games we played as children that in so many ways conditioned us for life as adults.
Would you describe yourself as a leader? If so, what makes you a leader? What is it that qualifies you to be a leader? I wanted to know if there was any information on the percentage of natural leaders compared to those who had learned to be leaders. I didn’t find any statistics concerning natural leaders, but there was an interesting article addressing the difference between a natural leader and one who is a leader by the power at their disposal.
By definition, “A natural leader is able to mobilize others without the whip of formal authority.” So, for me the natural question is, what makes one a natural leader? How do we define the mobilization of others?
It is quite interesting to note every pastor works with volunteers. Every church functions by the service of 98% volunteers. And I have a revelation for you as a former pastor, you don’t fire volunteers! You can’t control volunteers the way many business leaders control employees, by command, micro-management, and fear. This has always been one of the more challenging understandings to communicate to the church family, because most of them had or were a part of the work force where control tactics were the motivator of the day. Whether through mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual manipulation, fear is often used to control the workforce. As Christians we know this is inappropriate and just plain lousy business practice.
We cannot encourage the leaders of tomorrow by brow beating, humiliating, by verbally assaulting, demeaning, attacking the character, and essentially ignoring the words of Jesus who declared we were to treat others the way we desired to be treated! Jesus pointed out there is immense value in everyone He had created, and the forever death He accepted on Himself proved this reality! Jesus chose becoming one of us for eternity, He chose our consequences for sin, the real, forever death over living without us, and He experiences every day the resurrection life he holds for us, the life He waits to share with us!
Not everyone has been gifted with the ability to lead. If this fits you, you can count your blessings! Being one who naturally gravitates into leadership, if it’s not my place to be the leader, this natural bent can cause others to be BENT! Any who find themselves in the role of Leader will also find a few lessons must be learned: humility, apology, to listen and really hear, accept, and to be willing. Realize all of these will make a difference in your relationships both at work and at home. And remember, we are each in a process on many different levels, addressing many different issues; it’s a process seeking to heal a multitude of histories, repairing what possibly could be decades of hurt, all of it a learning experience which includes the damage of eons of broken people living on/in a broken world.
Now to the issue of being a follower, this is the reality, a natural leader who is a disciple of Jesus must become a follower also. Yes, it’s true, a real leader must be a follower first and foremost! If God is not at the center of your life, nothing is going to operate at its optimum. Life can work to a certain degree without God, but everything is at its best when He is the One who is first and foremost.
We have a responsibility to mentor the details of following as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Far too many are still getting it all wrong when it comes to an understanding of what following Jesus Christ entails! In John 6 Jesus laid it out for those who were following Him 2000 years ago. And when He was finishing detailing what life was to be for a disciple of His, many of those who had been followers decided not to be followers anymore!
“Jesus replied, I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst…For it is My Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life—that I should raise them at the last day.”
“They said, ‘This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven?’’”
“It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you don’t believe me.”
“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.” John 6:35,40,42,63,66 New Living Translation
So, what does all of this mean when tied to the verses for this post? Paul advises us all to become followers of God in everything we do because we are His children! Here it is, what do you believe considering Gods attitude towards you? Do you understand how deeply you are loved? Do you really know that Jesus gave Himself for you to remove your sins from you and take them to Himself?
Let me propose this, God calls us to become leaders who follow Him in all He does. Then we learn to love others as did Jesus Christ. Some of us are natural leaders who need to learn to become followers. Then there are those who are naturally followers who need to become leaders. Jesus Christ provides for us the example of the Servant Leader. He gives the example and we respond with the willingness to serve as well as the desire to lead others to discover the love their Creator has for them, and then to find the deeper meaning of Jesus as the One who offered Himself in our place!
The issues have never changed since the enemy showed up in the Garden of Eden attacking God’s integrity. As the serpent spun his lie concerning God’s attitude towards those He created, the web entrapped our original parents. It’s a web of deceit that has been entrapping humanity ever since. Thus the need for leaders who are followers of their Creator, saved by Jesus Christ, who died once for all! God’s Grace in action makes all the difference in the lives of leaders and followers. And that’s Good News for everyone!
“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Matthew 20:25-28 English Standard Version