Are You a Good Follower?

Years ago I read the story of an anxious mother who had sent a note with her daughter’s application to an all-women’s college.  She wrote something like this, “My daughter is not a leader, but she is an outstanding follower.” The admissions office of the college wrote back, “In view of the fact that we have already accepted the applications of 400 outstanding leaders, it seemed appropriate to us that we needed at least one follower.  Therefore, we are happy to accept your daughter as a student in our college.”

Followership is not popular, is it?  Have you ever been a member of a “Follower Team” or have you ever seen an advertisement for a followership conference?  I probably have twenty books on leadership and leadership training. I have one, that I can think of, on following, actually, two:  first, the Bible, and second, a book by Joseph Stowell that points us to Christ and the Bible entitled, Following Christ:  Experiencing Life The Way It Was Meant To Be.  Stowell powerfully shows the emptiness of our efforts to be independent of God and of our need to follow Christ.  He writes, “. . . since we were designed to follow, we spend our entire lives following—it’s just that no one wants to admit it.  Sin strives for independence. The agony of sin is that the more we reach for autonomy, the more we become enslaved as followers. Strange, isn’t it?  The more we do life our way, the more we lose our independence” (27).

Jesus calls us to follow Him.  Mark 1:16-18 records these words, “Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Again, Stowell writes, “Think of what might have been if Peter, Andrew, James, and John had not dropped everything to follow Christ.  At the end of their lives they would have had piles—perhaps tons—of smelly, scaly fish to show for their existence. . . . But because the disciples dropped what they had thought was the best way to spend their lives and took up Christ’s way, you and I sit here redeemed. Only heaven will reveal the full results of the lives of these early disciples who became non-negotiated followers of Christ” (150).  Because men like Peter, Matthew, James and Paul were faithful followers of Jesus, we live now, forgiven, and with the sure hope of life in the future in new, glorified bodies in a new heavens and a new earth.

Is leadership essential and very important?  Undoubtedly! The Bible has much to say about the need for good leadership in nations, homes, and in the church.  But, the truth is, unless we become good followers, we will never be good leaders. When after Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, Peter asked Him about John’s future.  “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” If Peter needed to hear those words, we need to hear them as well. Jesus calls to each one of us, “You follow me!”

David Sowers – International Minister