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“Whoever wants to be my disciple must take up leadership courses to lead like me!”

Posted Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 4:51 PM


We hear much about leadership these days, in fact in the last 30 years leadership has become a multi billion dollar business, and not just in the secular world. We have all been caught up in it, so much so that one would think that Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must take up leadership courses to lead like me!” But we know that is not what he said. He in fact said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

How far back does this binge on ‘Leadership’ go? Susan Cain in a NY Times article of March 2017 writes, “In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.” The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.” (“Not Leadership? Good. The World Needs More Followers”)

While I believe deeply in the importance of leadership, somewhere we have lost sight of an equally important aspect, follower-ship. Someone posted, “It is grossly overlooked, if not looked down upon. We’ve made the term almost derogatory, and elevated the ideal of leadership as the pinnacle of success.” Ain’t that the truth. Very few have ever said to me, “I am a follower.” But the reality is stark; I cannot be a good leader if I have never been a good follower. Imagine society without followers … imagine the Kingdom of God without followers!

We are called to follow Jesus, that is not second rate, second fiddle, or second best. That is the call, to follow Jesus. We are not called to follow a man, a woman, a personality, an organization, the mantra of a charismatic leader; we are called to follow Jesus. Following anyone or anything else will eventually lead to despair and disillusion. Jesus reminds us that if we follow Him, and remain in Him, only then can we thrive in Him.

Leadership of any and all kinds for a disciple of Christ is a product of following Christ. If leadership, in the Christian setting, emerges out of any other context, then I need to ask, What am I leading? For whom am I leading? And why am I leading?

It’s unsurprising how quickly any kind of power, small as it may be, wells up and goes straight to the head bypassing the brain … at the last supper, at the table, the disciples were arguing as to who would be the greatest!!! Were they talking about leadership? A little power a huge mess can make!

Far too often the definitions of Christian leadership are taken from the business world, then we hunt for biblical examples to prop up those definitions. This gets things wrong immediately. The New Testament example of leadership is Jesus, and Jesus “led” by dying. The disciples found out after their follower-ship ‘course’ that when they were given the mantle of leadership it meant they needed to be ready to follow their ‘leader’ to the same end.

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