About a week ago, Ghana elected a new president. I strongly believe that the followers the president-elect had with him made his entire campaign. Some devoted followers of the winning political party have never laid eyes on the flag bearer before, but can bet their lives on his credibility. It is almost hilarious. Such leader-follower dedication is really is really impressive– in different cases and variations. In others, it could be toxic.
I was having an interesting discussion with office colleagues about how a religious leaders’ followers easily make him an idol in their lives, and I was intrigued by the different opinions that were brought to the table. To some, the onus lies on the leaders to live an upright life, in order not to lead followers astray. To others, it is the responsibility of the followers to learn what they can from their leader, and pay no mind to all else. In that discussion, I believed the onus was on each party to be Holy Spirit-led at all times. It’s tough trying to pull out the truth from a lot of noise.
Leadership & followership is very important to God. He leaves a lot of instructions and guidance to people who are in charge of others and people who are “subject” to others. We see this in different forms; parables and stories of kings and their subjects, of laborers and their master, Paul’s teachings to religious leaders, and to the church, etc.
Early on in my life, I saw Jesus as a lot of things – but a leader wasn’t one of them. When the thought came to mind and I took a look, He seemed a very strategic leader. The way he went about recruiting disciples alone had some depth to it. Even more so, the manner in which he taught them, using life case analysis and subtle instructions and coded stories made his leadership message (The Gospel of the Kingdom of God) more understandable. He also led them by example, showing them the kind of things that are expected of them as disciples of Christ. When I think about Jesus as a leader, I remember the heartfelt prayer he said for his followers, and for all believers in John 17. He knew that living the example and walking amongst them wasn’t enough – He had to give The Father access to intervene in his followers’ lives.
As followers, the disciples were loyal (well most of them), but seemed not to have a full understanding of what they were doing as they followed Jesus. Jesus was not impressed with their growth from time to time as he kept asking questions like, “Don’t you know me…even after I have been among you such a long time?” “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” and “Why do you doubt?”. That pattern reminds me of the current state of the Church. We’re expected to be ahead at one place and yet, we are struggling to stay afloat where we are.
One thing God says in His word is: he’ll come back for his bride, the church… and she must be ready when He comes. He has shown The Way we should go in His word, and even though people believe we are not expected to live strictly by it, God holds higher standards than we hold in our minds.
This Christmas, I hope we find The Truth no matter where we are: Who is leading you? Why are you following them? Are they the ones God put in charge of you? Are they guiding you? Are they helping you grow? Are they leading you to fulfill your God-given purpose on earth, or have they lost the vision along the way? Do you pray for them? Do they pray for you?
When I realized what my True Love had given to me in the form of the mandate to follow, I realized some “leadership figures” in my life have to go. Inasmuch as I have been called to lead others, I have been called to learn from others as well… and I used to take that for granted. Every leader and follower will give an account on the day of accountability. I hope you have a worthy response.
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