- Dan Reiland
It’s difficult to lead well if you can’t follow. The people on your team can sense if you are not personally a good follower. It effects, among other things, how you treat people, talk to people and make decisions. Keep in mind that an unwillingness to follow doesn’t necessarily make you a visionary or an entrepreneur. Leaders who are not good followers often struggle with:
- Casting vision in a way that people can hear it
- Teamwork that empowers
- Understanding how their team thinks and feels
- Drawing staff leaders close to them, and gaining buy-in from volunteer leaders
- Serving those around them through genuine listening and empathy
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23We learn followership as we follow God. But this also translates to your human experience. For example, a senior pastor would demonstrate followership by submitting to a decision from the church board, or a denominational official. A staff member would follow his or her supervisor by fulfilling agreed upon responsibilities. In the same way, a volunteer leader would follow a staff member’s direction. Followership is a choice; no one is forced to follow. When you chose to say yes to a job or volunteer role, you chose to follow. Followership is also an attitude that is based on character. Jesus models followership with the Father. The following are core followership qualities we see in Jesus that we are called to replicate as well.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! -Philippians 2:6-8
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." -Matthew 26:39
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:45It’s a daily challenge to embody and practice these three biblical qualities. As they become part of an authentic lifestyle, you substantially increase your ability to follow as a genuine quality of your life. These qualities allow us to demonstrate followership in day to day leadership in the church through the following four practices.