Who Do You Follow -If You Are the Leader?


Many people want to be the leader, even if they do not know where they are going or how to get there. Some people get drafted to lead when they do not want to have that responsibility That is why you should never miss when officers are chosen; the one absent gets the real work! Others have very narrow ideas of what leaders look like. Leadership is required for any organization to move forward, but leadership is also a rather mysterious and weighty thing.

Four Responses to Leadership

1.  I don’t have what it takes.

Many times people refuse to lead because they are unwilling to pay the price.
Leadership, as with all things of value, is a costly exercise. It takes:

* time
* energy
* resources
* insight
* patience
* wisdom and strength

The satisfaction in knowing that successful leadership has helped produce something of value is the only thing that counterbalances the pain of criticism that often accompanies the role of a leader.

2.  I don’t fit the model.

There are no exact models for leadership. Every personality style has the ability to lead. It is important that we understand what needs to be done, what it will take to get there, what strengths do I bring and what needs to be added. An external outgoing person will lead with inspiration and purpose. An internal reflective person will lead with order and organization. All of these strengths are required for success. It is important that the leader know how to:

* include
* encourage and
* empower the team members.

Wise leaders will know their strength and lead with them, but also will recognize the strengths that others bring and honor their contribution.

The true model of a leader is found in the success of the project and in the sense of accomplishment experienced by all who contribute and benefit.

3. I am JUST a follower.

The word ‘just’ should not be attached to follower. There can be no leader without a strong team that follows. There are many settings that an individual may feel confident to take the lead role but others where they prefer to follow wise direction. The gifts of a gracious follower are as important as using great leadership skills.

* Listen
* Do not judge.
* Be positive.
* Look for ways to contribute.
* Keep your eye on the goal.

Sometimes, leaders make terrible followers, because they are preoccupied with, “That is not how I would have done it!” Having a teachable and supportive spirit is key to following, realizing that God can use all kinds of people.

Other times, it is clear that the person in charge is not the best leader. Many times “we do not have control over who is in control” – but we are not excused from our role of being a positive contributor. Those who have had leadership positions know the pressure of taking the responsibility and how difficult it is to always make the perfect decision.

4.  Are leadership and power the same?

There are some who have a great deal of power and they often get results, but may not lead. They may force their will or way but have no true followers. This type of “leader” fosters fear and intimidation – but does not win hearts or minds. True leadership is not about coercing others to do what they do not want to do – it is about empowering them to become…

True Christ-centered leaders:

* show the way – because they see the path
* inspire others – because they believe themselves
* never ask others to do what they are not willing or have not done themselves
* recognize they cannot do it alone

“…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28

It takes all of us working together to accomplish great goals.

* Gifted, sensitive and insightful – LEADERS
* Faithful, talented and supportive – FOLLOWERS

Dr. Bill Heston

University Chaplain,
Howard Payne University
Brownwood, Texas

Dr. William Heston was minister of pastoral care at Houston’s First Baptist Church; clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a marriage therapist licensed by the state of Texas. He has also led seminars at First Place Conferences.