The Value of Followership

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There’s something really glamourous about being a leader. Especially in America, I feel like we’re taught that we can all be leaders, it’s our natural, God-given right to be in charge and have others following us. If you look online, there are approximately a bajillion books about how to be a good leader, some of which are really beneficial and insightful. But I wonder if we’ve focused so much on wanting to be leaders that we never learned how to follow. Honestly, if we’re all “leaders” then who are we leading? And where are we leading them to?

Following is hard. I don’t always enjoy it. When following another person, disagreements are inevitable. Yet it’s one of the best opportunities for growth and refinement. Even if the leader isn’t so great, we can still grow and some of our rougher edges can be sanded down.

It’s easy to think the following the Lord might be an easier task to accomplish. He doesn’t have the flaws that human beings do and he’s perfectly loving, just, and gracious. Even though he’s perfect, I still struggle to follow him sometimes because we don’t see eye to eye on all things. God has such a different view (the correct view) of people, situations, and the correct course of action, that my clouded filter often gets it wrong. Yet I have to submit to him and choose his way over mine.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:18-22 (NIV)

These men laid down their lives to follow Jesus. He didn’t promise to make them all famous or influential or powerful. He didn’t call them to make them leaders; first, they had to follow him. Before they could be sent out to seek and save the lost and hurting, they had to be healed, they had to be set free.

Can you imagine how strange of a career transition these guys went through when they went from fishermen to followers? What a line to put on your resume! Yet, that was the most important season of their lives.

Jesus didn’t just call the disciples but is constantly inviting us to come and follow him, wherever we go.

I wonder where Jesus is calling us to come and follow him. In the workplace, submitting to a boss that you just don’t agree with? Or at home, honoring that spouse that just doesn’t quite seem to get it? Or in the church, where you think they should be doing things just a little differently?

For years, I would pray that God would make me a good follower so that I would one day understand how to lead well. While writing this post, I realized that I have stopped praying that prayer recently. I have stopped investing in my followership and that’s been to my detriment. Following takes humility and is full of honor, things that I definitely need more of in my life. Learning to follow another imperfect human being is so difficult, but it’s one of the most stretching and growing experiences we can have. My guess is that God probably has us all in a position where we can follow him in how we follow others.

Let’s follow well today!

What do you think about followership?

How can you follow God by following others today?

To go Deeper: Read Servolution, What’s Your Position?

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