Followership, Leadership and Discipleship

It’s not what a person does that makes his work holy, it’s why he does it.  – Tozer

I’ve studied leadership for more than 25 years.  There is a ton of leadership podcasts, books, resources and examples in business and history.  What part of this can be valuable to us in our pursuit of becoming better leaders?

John Dillinger example.  This guy was an infamous criminal in the US who was personally responsible for killing over 100 people.  When he was caught, he claimed that he was a poor, misunderstood, victim of society.   What can we do understand from this?

People don’t tend to take responsibility for their actions.   You have, and so do I, the tendency to excuse ourselves.  You, and me, are just as capable of “letting ourselves off the hook” as ANYONE else.  As long as we fail to take this to heart, we will make excuses for ourselves, and blame others. Pride justifies itself, and accuses others. This has to be dealt with in our hearts if we are to take the responsibility of following Jesus for ourselves.

Following / followership  is central to leadership and helps us walk in humility.  You are not “the man” or “the woman”, no matter how good of leader you become.  If we have a responsibility to follow in our leadership, we don’t get over inflated and think that everyone is following us.  We can realize this in the fact that we are following other leaders, but the highest sense of this comes to us in following Jesus directly.

Probably this is not new to you, but, we have to realize and understand that we are no better leaders for / with Jesus, than we are followers of Him.  Here are some thoughts and ideas on the concept of following Jesus. Jesus says to each one of us, as many as are his disciples, follow me.  He’s talking to us directly and not by proxy (thru someone else). Even if you are in the early stages of following the Lord, in which it's normal to “follow others as they are following Christ”, you still need to realize that you are maturing into hearing and following the Lord directly. This takes time, but is the ultimate goal.

I like this quote from Mike Breen – If we make disciples, we always get the church (results in a community of believers), but if we try to build a church, we rarely get disciples.  So much “church building / church planting” in our times. So little of which is resulting in disciples of Jesus. This lack of discipleship is a plague in the United States, I can say for sure, but it may also apply in your life, ministry with those you know, and where you are.

Education without action is entertainment.  – Unknown

Here are some statements made with subtle differences. Which one best describes your current course of action?

  • Following Jesus for yourself, and taking responsibility for obeying Jesus. Coming to maturity.
  • Following Jesus closely, or creating distance in the relationship
  • Following someone who is following Jesus
  • Not following Jesus or anyone else

We will all be held to account as to our level of obedience. We have to realize that there is no maturity in our leadership capacity that exceeds our level of obedience. Maturity in leadership is the ability to handle responsibility in a faithful way, or to handle it well. The better we handle responsibility, the more responsibility we will be entrusted with. As we solve big problems, bigger problems are entrusted to us from the Lord, and from our groups. You will never come to maturity in Christ, or become all that you are called to be in Him, with partial obedience.

Learning about the Lord, and from God, actually results in a higher level of accountability.  Are we prepared to obey what we hear the Lord say?

Discipleship is a covenant that we make with the Lord, directly and individually.  – Follow me and I will make you fishers of men – Jesus He was saying this to highlight that following him has a result. In this example, becoming fishers of men, as He himself is.  

Once again, at the risk of being redundant, we have to keep in mind that we are called to be the Lord’s disciple. This is true no matter who we are receiving from at this (or any) time, or who we are walking in relationship with.  This is key because our relationship with the people we are walking with or with the person who is helping us most, at this time, may well not continue forever.  What happens if we become “someone’s disciple” instead of Jesus’ disciple, and our relationship with that person dissolves?  This would have a bad outcome.  This happens a lot.

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