Disciples, Apostles, and Saints!
Heading back to school, we fill our backpacks, decorate our lockers and classrooms, and prepare lesson plans. We recognize the kind of leadership the teacher displays to the class. But there is a kind of leadership the class will (or won’t) display with itself. Generous, listening, engaging, encouraging—or competitive, disruptive, spiteful, and discouraging.
Much of the literature out there focuses on the qualities of leadership, but there isn’t a lot about being a good follower. Especially when we struggle to see that the best followers lead. And this can feel counterintuitive; especially when we cast leaders as actors and followers as reactors.
Being good at following takes way more than being reactive. If you’ve ever followed someone in a different car, you recognize the important skills of anticipation, trust, and communication. Following well takes real skill. Sometimes moreskill.
Following Jesus in 2023 means developing all of the skills we associate with both: with being a leader and a follower. And thankfully he has communicated this stuff throughout the gospels. Listening, giving, hoping, trusting, loving.
We talk like following is easy. We can critique from the cheap seats and never put any skin in the game. Because we think we have no impact on the outcome. But we couldn’t be more wrong. Being good at following is often the biggest difference maker on any team.