Several years ago, the American automobile executive, Lee Iacocca, famously said in a Chrysler ad: “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” This was the style of Mr. Iacocca’s leadership, and it seemed to serve him well for many years. Indeed, that has been the style of leadership for most executives to this day. But there is something missing in this model — the ability to follow. Somehow, with rugged individualism as the model in this country for well over a century, we have developed the mistaken notion that to lead is to be in control and to have the power over subordinate people.
Jesus taught the opposite. Not long before He went to the cross, He washed the disciple’s feet and then asked them what he had just done for them. He had given them an example of leadership they would never forget. (John 13:12-14) Then he commanded that they wash one another’s feet.
To lead is to follow. Jesus only did what he saw His Father doing. (John 5:19) Realistically, we can never become great leaders until we become and remain great followers. When we understand this principle, it becomes easier to drop the quest for “greatness” and become comfortable in simply following. In many ways it is far more challenging to follow than it is to lead. Following requires an ability to give strict attention to detail and purpose. The Lord always is involved in our lives, and the lives of those around us. When we answer the call to lead one person or many people, we are placing ourselves in a position of responsibility for those people. They will look to us for a word of encouragement, direction, guidance, and discernment. To be a leader means to hear clearly from the Lord as we seek Him on behalf of those we lead. We must acknowledge that we do not have the answers they seek — but God does. While they can receive exactly what they need directly from the Lord, people often need assurance that they are on the right track and hearing correctly from Him. Leaders can provide that assurance because they know they have heard from the Lord.
Who are you called to lead? Are you willing to follow first? Jesus is waiting for you.
By Chip Whitman
Pastor of Care & Counseling
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