Leaders and Followers
I recently read an article in Fast Company that reminded me of a biblical truth. The authors talked about our country’s fascination, often to the extreme, with leaders. Nothing wrong with leaders – in fact, they’re really important! I am one, and I respect many other leaders around me. But when we emphasize leadership to the detriment of followership, we have a problem. This truth is found in the Bible as well.
The Bible has a lot to say about leaders AND followers. Over and over we’re told that all parts of the body are important – the hand, the eye, the foot (1 Cor 12:12ff). So why do we talk so often about the people in charge, forgetting to encourage and empower those in less visible roles? Our society elevates leadership as the thing to aspire to, often at the neglect of affirming the gifting and calling of those in follower positions.
I work for an organization that I love. World Impact is full of great leaders with whom I’m blessed to work. We’re walking in step to fulfill our mission together. But let me tell you – without the followers in our organization, we wouldn’t be going anywhere. Leaders need people who will follow – not blindly, but boldly living out their calling. Leaders need to step back and affirm those who are following, recognizing that both groups matter because our shared calling is to follow Christ above all else (Eph 4:15-16). As we each follow Christ, we live out the unique giftedness given to us by the Holy Spirit for the common good (1 Cor 12:4-7).
So what will it look like to raise up healthy leaders AND healthy followers? I believe that’s the mission of the church – to speak words of life to all types of people and teach people to be strong leaders and also strong followers.