Then Jesus said, “Believe me when I tell you that anyone who does not enter the sheepfold though the door, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a rogue. It is the shepherd of the flock who goes in by the door. It is to him the door-keeper opens the door and it is his voice that the sheep recognise. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out of the fold, and when he has driven all his own flock outside, he goes in front of them himself, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger—indeed, they will run away from him, for they do not recognise strange voices.” ~John 10:1-5
So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord ~I Thessalonians 1:6
A young upstart in the ministry once asked an elder more seasoned minister, “When will I know that I am leader in the Church?” With that the seasoned minister responded simply, “When you are being followed.”
Leadership in God’s church is not position. It is not having or being in an office. Being elected by a group of people neither actually causes you to become their leader. They may have elected or chosen you to do a job, but that does not mean that you are their leader. Leadership only happens in the church when you are being followed.
Jesus’ followers literally followed him through deserts, mountains, and stormy seas. No obstacle was too great for the opportunity to be near to the master. Here is where many church leaders find out if they’ve made the grade or not. One statistic tells us that very often after a building program, many pastors too often leave a church to find another pastorate. Why is that? Could it be that the parishioners didn’t like the color of the paint the pastor chose? Did they not like the way he conducted the business of the project? Was too much money spent? Too little accomplished? Wrong decisions? Bad decisions? A leader will know if he is truly a leader if he followed even after a storm.
When Jesus’ followers were in the ship that was being tossed by the waves, they cried out to their leader and he healed the situation they were in. Here is where an elected person becomes a leader of people. Knowing what to do in the storm will validate your leadership. Knowing how to act in a crisis elevates you above your fellow. Not everybody is capable of making tough decisions. Only a leader worth following knows when and how to step to the forefront and take charge of a chaotic situation.
Great leaders are not born. They are not elected. They are developed. What made Jesus the greatest leader of people of all time was His desire to sacrifice Himself for the sake of those who followed Him. People will follow those who are self sacrificing. They will lean towards those who put the good of the people first and foremost.
People will never follow a leader who is self-serving for long. Self-serving leaders are thieves of the people. They take without giving. They demand when they themselves offer nothing.
Are you being followed? When you look behind you, do you see people who’s lives are being shaped by your example? Do you see other leaders coming up under your ministry? Are there people who would follow you anywhere you went? Would they follow you through a stormy sea or a hot desert experience? If so, you are truly a leader. If not, you may need to ask yourself some important questions.
The answer to these questions lay within yourself. A leader who is not truly being followed can never blame others for not following him. Nor can he demand them to follow. People will only follow those they trust. They will only follow those they respect. They will not go very far with someone who hurts them or treats them small. However, they will go to any length and give any amount to someone who has earned their trust, respect and love.
For some leaders this kind of followership happens very quickly. For others, it takes a lifetime. The adversities that a congregation goes through and the response of it’s leaders may well be the determining factor here.
Would you follow you? Think about this for a moment. What kind of leadership have you followed in the past? What did you require from those you followed after? Do you have those same traits? Do you have a similar character? Are you being followed?