I am not saying that I am old.
However, I remember a time, long ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away) … I believe that I was in the 8th grade. A relative came over to our house for dinner and was talking to my parents. He worked for a government contractor. He told us about global positioning satellites, a program that the government had been developing for a while that was finally fully functional. It could pinpoint your location, determine your speed, and plot the best course for you to follow.
We found it hard to believe.
In the early 80’s the GPS was made available to the public. I had a friend that was one of the first to purchase one. He paid almost $2,000 for it. The first one that I ever purchased cost over $300.
Now, every smartphone has one. You can even use it in Bolivia! Seriously! When we moved here 10 years ago, you could not even get a street map. Now, just today, a friend needed to come by the house for the first time so I sent them a screenshot of Google maps with our house circled on it.
Yesterday I needed to go meet the short-term team that was here at a campground that they were working at. I had never been there before. It was way out in the country. My Bolivian foreman with the team opened his MapsMe app and put a pin on the spot. He then messaged me the coordinates. I opened my app and said “Go there.” Boom, a short while later I was there after being led out of the city and even up a dirt road.
GPS’s are awesome. When was the last time that you actually had to write down directions with landmarks and other helpful hints on how to go somewhere? I remember telling people to turn where the tree was in the middle of the road or to go right at the gas station. Now, we just send them the address and wait for them to arrive.
A GPS will tell me what to do. I follow it without any real reservations. The voice says to turn in one mile, so I turn in one mile. I follow. I trust. I obey.
When it comes to our GPS, it is all about following.
However, when it comes to church and Christianity, we no longer talk about following.
The buzzword is “leading.”
We want leaders.
We develop leaders.
Pastors need to be leaders.
The church needs more leadership.
I agree/disagree. I think that in place of leadership, the church needs more followership.
Jesus did not say, “Lead me.” He said, “Follow me.” The disciples were not focused on the top ten leadership principles. They were watching Jesus and following Him. Even the great leader, the Apostle Paul, said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
I am not denying that we need leaders. However, I think that we need to understand what a leader is and focus on the right thing.
My definition of leadership, which I teach in my “Leadership Conferences” is this:
A leader is a follower being followed.
I believe that what we have made a mistake on is this. We have focused on being followed, not on following. We concentrate on our leadership, and ignore our followership.
Christ has called us to FOLLOW Him. As we FOLLOW Him, then our lives will intersect, impact and influence others … TO FOLLOW Him. The goal is not to get ahead of people, it is to get behind people and help them know God better and love Him more.
Let me say it this way.
If you are not leading people to become more like Christ, then you are leading them astray.
If someone were to truly follow you, if they were to mimic your attitudes and copy your character, if they were to repeat your words and do your works, if they were to become like you … would that mean that they were more like Jesus?
If your children truly follow you … will they end up being like Jesus or just being a nice, middle to upper class conservative person? (This is not mutually exclusive, nor is it the same thing.)
If your life truly does lead people … what are you leading them to become and where are you leading them?
I believe that we should focus on following.
We should follow the heart of Jesus.
We should follow the passion of Jesus.
We should follow the leading of Jesus.
We should follow the words of Jesus.
We should follow the actions of Jesus.
We should follow the example of Jesus.
We should follow the works of Jesus.
We should follow.
I say this to pastors and to parents. I honestly seek to live this out in my life.
We should BE who we want others to BECOME.
Pastors, can you honestly, from your pulpit, encourage your church to BE like you? If not, then why? What is it about your life that prevents you from saying that? Repent!
Parents, can you, before God, say to your children that if they BECOME who you ARE, then you will be proud of them and God will be glorified? If not, then why? What is it about your life, your attitudes, your words, your heart, your actions that prevents you from telling your children to be like you? Repent!
I believe that we should stop trying to develop six levels of leadership and instead seek to become deeper, more passionate followers of Christ.
If you are following Christ with all your heart, He will lead you to impact the lives of others, to help the poor, to reach the lost, to disciple the young, to influence your community … in other words, following Him will make you a leader. A true leader is one who helps those following Him to become like the ONE he is following.