A LEADER HAS FOLLOWERS UNITED WITH A COMMON GOAL
“Followers are more important to leaders than leaders are to followers.”
— Barbara Kellerman
A leader is not a leader unless they have followers united with a common mission. I think the word follower has a loose definition in today’s social media age. If we think being a follower begins and ends with a push of a button, we have gravely mistaken. Merriam-Webster defines follower as “one that follows the opinions or teachings of another”. This is a good start but still doesn’t fill the gaps of the power of a follower.
A follower is someone who becomes a partner in the mission of the leader. If we were to agree that this is a good definition of a follower, then we would agree upon two fundamental truths. One, the leader has to have a goal. Two, the follower is willing to take resources, responsibility, and initiative to reach the goal.
You, as the leader, have the responsibility to create and keep a vision. What is a vision? It is the dream you are seeking—the goal you want to reach. For some people, this will be easy. God may have given you a specific dream already. If not, seek God to give you the wisdom to create a dream that others can follow. Beware that you need to know yourself well before getting followers to chase the vision God has given you. There are lots of Christian leaders who have “visions” from God that do not line up with God’s Word. You need to understand the difference between what your heart desires and what God desires. Seek God with an honest heart and he will guide you.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” — Rosalynn Carter
Leadership is built on relationships, and relationships are built on trust. Nothing is beneath a great leader, and it is the day-to-day relationships that make up leadership. Trust has to be something that flows between the leader and the followers, and amongst the followers as well. It could take years to build trust, and then only one moment to break it. You want trust to be like transparent steel. It can be tough if anything hits it or can be melted down to fit any need necessary, also see-through so that nothing is hidden between people. Trust like that can go through anything.
What is the goal of a follower? Yes, they are partners in reaching a vision, but what if you reach the vision or it isn’t possible. There has to be something more to being a follower. The leader equips and sends followers to seek their visions and gifts. A great leader points out passion and purpose in their followers that they didn’t even see in themselves. Yea, that sounds great but how? Try by giving someone a responsibility, tell them what to do and why to do it, but not how. After they do it, then be honest and encouraging. You will naturally find things they did well and things they could work on. Tell them what they excelled at and inspire them to keep doing that. On the flip side, show them where they could improve, and trust that they will listen to your advice.
You may or may not have caught one little word I put in bold in the paragraph above. SEND. Once followers find their gifts and passions, great leaders send them to create more leaders.
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” — Ralph Nader
Leaders making leaders making leaders making leaders. Your legacy is going to be the leaders you develop that you never meet face-to-face. In the church world, this is difficult. We want to keep our best leaders inside—helping and giving. Yet, if we do that, then we limit the impact they could have on God’s kingdom. They are meant to go where the Spirit leads and multiply other leaders.
Find your vision and help others find their gifts. Leadership isn’t easy. It takes intentionality and hopeful thinking but it is what this world desperately needs. Everyone in the kingdom of God is meant to be a leader. Everyone is made to multiply in the kingdom of God. A leader always starts as a follower. If leadership seems foreign or not a possibility, then find a leader. It is never shameful to ask for a mentor. It means you want to grow and learn. Next week, we will focus on a leader is a Lifetime Learner. Like and share this to help create leaders.
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Grace and peace.
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