Where Have All The Followers Gone?

ducks          There is a presumption about leadership that is seldom discussed today. Leadership has no meaning without having someone who is willing to follow. I’ll admit right upfront that this seems a little like the chicken/egg scenario in determining which comes first, leadership or followership? (OK, I just invented a new word but it seemed to fit.) As a culture we seem to only follow when we agree with our leaders. Prior to the Vietnam war it would have been unthinkable to run to another country rather than serve but during the sixties many decided to reside in Canada and abandon the good old USA. Then they were pardoned and all came home without performing service in the armed forces. What message were we sending to our citizens about commitment? Follow only when you agree?

          Deciding whether or not we should follow someone or something is really a value judgement we place upon the related authority. If the speed limit for driving is 55 mph and we decide to drive 65 we make a value judgement that this is OK. (At least until the police officer persuades us to think differently). It all began when we were children. I might have decided to disobey if I thought I could get away with it. The value was in doing what I wanted to do, hoping to escape the consequences. So there seems to always be an element of risk involved. I suppose there is always a risk in following as well. We might be taken where we would rather not go. The question then becomes one of authority and whose or what authority do we place ourselves under.

          What an oddity we are as a nation. We elect leaders who are supposed to represent what we think. I guess that might make us the alleged leaders and the elected officials the followers. Oh if it were only that simple. I’m starting to get confused and I’m doing the writing. I believe the original premise was that we would elect or appoint people with experience and an expertise to fill each position. That notion seemed to vanish when we started electing wrestlers and actors to run our state governments. Now we appoint czars without experience to oversee government owned corporations that are already in trouble. Perhaps an important ingredient for the leader/follower equation is that the leader should be believable and we as followers begin by giving them an even chance to prove themselves. In a society that possesses a micro-wave mentality we seem free to change with every new politically correct wind that blows our way.

          In order not to be driven by every wind suggests that we need to be grounded by something. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (4:14) he states “…we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (vs.15) but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ,”…  I left the first three words of vs. 14 off in order to come back to them. “As a result…” For us not to be subject to every wind of political correctness or the trickery and scheming of men we must arrive at a point where we are a “result”. A result of what? For that we need to consider the previous verses that tell us about His ascension and the gifts freely given to us in order that we may be equipped to be saints in His service. Verse 13 describes  the “unity of faith”, maturity and stature “which belongs to the fulness of Christ;”  We can only stand against the trickery and schemes of our times by being committed followers of Jesus Christ. We cannot gloss over the committed part. This process implies sacrifice and cost but promises freedom and deliverance. Before any of us can be a respected leader we must first become a committed follower.

          In summary it would seem that each of us must choose what authority we come under and make a conscience decision to commit to that authority, taking the risk that there is something of greater importance than self interest alone. This may be the first giant step in learning to be a follower and subsequently learning to become an even better leader.

          Biblical quotes taken from the NASB version.

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