Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jesus Wasn't a "Leader"

Jesus wasn't a "leader."

He wasn't a CEO.

He violated the "laws of leadership."

He actually resisted opportunities to increase his influence—even when the crowd demanded more of him. (How strange is that in this day and age?)

No, Jesus was none of the mental images that are so prevalent in our current North American thinking about leadership.

I contend that Jesus was first and foremost a follower.

Yeah, you'll probably have to read that previous sentence again.

I know. Being a follower these days doesn't sound as near as sexy as being a leader, but Jesus didn't seem to mind being a follower. Explaining to his disciples that he was a follower—and who he was following, he said, "...I love the Father and... I do exactly what my Father has commanded me" (John 14:31). Make no mistake about it. Jesus was a resolute follower of God the Father—and the Father's agenda for his life... to the point of death.

The irony here is that because Jesus was a dedicated follower of the Father and every little part of Father's agenda for his life, the right people recognized him as someone worth following. Hence, Jesus trained a cadre of not-so-promising folks to follow him as he followed the Father's agenda. These followers of Jesus personally surrendered themselves to Jesus and the Father's agenda for their lives... and then gave themselves to the wild, out of control movement of helping other people to do the same, ad infinitum (over and over in the exact same way).

Of course, Jesus, by training others to follow Father's agenda for their lives, ultimately started a revolution. But it wasn't a "leadership" revolution as much as it was a followership revolution. The emphasis of Jesus' followership revolution is on following God's agenda... not "leading" it (at least not in the current way many today understand the concept of leadership).

It's really important to note here that being a Christian "leader" has nothing to do with OUR vision, plan, or agenda.

Jesus already has a big dream—one that was given to him by God the Father. That dream in two simple words is "make disciples" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Here's where Jesus really starts to get on our nerves. Jesus wants us to scrap OUR visions, plans, and agendas... and do something absolutely revolutionary: Follow him and the Father's disciplemaking agenda—and train others to follow Jesus and the Father's disciplemaking agenda... so they can train others, ad infinitum.

So beware of the emotional inebriation that comes from engaging in leadership bravado. While you are conjecturing on casting vision, strategic planning, and developing leaders, you could forget that you're supposed to be following a follower—and that you are called to make followers... who can make more followers (see 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 11:1). While you are drinking deep from the current fountain of leadership, me-carcinogens can slip in undetected. Somewhere down the road, you could end up trying to lead your own agenda in God's name rather than following God's agenda.

To really "lead" like Jesus, you must first dare to follow like Jesus.

If you think about it, following takes a lot more guts than "leading" because you're not in control of the agenda—you're accepting God's agenda as you own.

Here's the important and compelling question that only you can REALLY answer:

Do you have the guts to follow like Jesus right where you are right now?


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