With all the attention on leadership training these days, the importance of being a good follower can easily be forgotten. In fact it is rarely — if ever — a focus. As my husband discusses here, the skill of following is paramount for Christians! (After all, Jesus said over a dozen times, “Follow me.”)
That said, here are important “following skills” I hope to pass on to my children:
A good follower has her eyes wide open, so to speak, and does her “due diligence” when it comes to choosing whom to follow. For example, one should not choose to follow a pastor without first researching his statement of faith to make sure it aligns with scripture. History is full of examples of people who followed blindly. The result? Crime. Holocaust. Genocide. Bankruptcy. Oppression.
Be the person who exhorts the leader… who urges her to remain steadfast; who comforts her in times of distress; who strengthens her when she is weak; who instructs her when necessary; who admonishes her when she has gone astray.
Leaders — even the most excellent, world-renowned and well-respected leaders — are sinful people just like you and me. They will make mistakes; they will sin. Sometimes, a leader’s errors are simply that: mistakes. But sometimes, a leader’s blunders are sin which may contaminate her work, her reputation, her personal life and/or her professional life. Have grace for simple oversights, but recognize sinful behavior and ask God for the good judgment to decide how best to respond to both in a godly way.
If a leader steps out of line — perhaps by doing something (either knowingly or unknowingly) unethical or unbiblical — she will need a brave follower to speak truth into her life. A follower is not responsible for a leader’s poor decisions, but she is responsible for hers; and that may mean tactfully and lovingly calling out erroneous behavior in a leader when she sees it — regardless as to whether or not her boldness is rewarded or chastised.
A good follower knows her gifts and exercises them. There’s nothing worse than a person who gladly gives opinions and criticisms but who rarely lifts a finger to work toward an organization’s goals and objectives.
If you say you’re going to do something, do it and do it well “as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23 NLT).
Always be in communication with God! Possible prayers:
Please be with my leader, give her wisdom and discernment to lead well.
Protect my leader from slander. Help her to make godly decisions especially in stressful situations.
Lord, is this a person whom I should be following?
God, how can I be an encouragement to my leader?
Be a problem-solver.
Being the bearer of bad news is easy. What isn’t so easy is studying a problem from several different angles to develop a strategy for solving it. Be the person who seeks a solution instead of the person who constantly criticizes why proposed solutions won’t work.
Be willing to walk away.
Sometimes, a follower and a leader have incompatible operating styles — and that’s okay! God made each of us unique and different, and He expects us to get along and to love one another deeply. Recognize the mismatched connection, peacefully walk away, and appreciate the leader’s gifts even if they’re unsuited to yours.
What would you add to this list?
Proud to Be a Good Follower,