#316, Serving leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you following?”

January 19, 2022

Serving leaders give conscious thought to who they follow. They also reflect on what the following verses mean for those they lead.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:17, NIV)

Paul is first a follower, but he quickly calls others to follow his example. He wants others to choose well those they follow. Serving leaders ask those they lead, “Who are you following?” so that their followers also grow in their ability to follow well.

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to elevate awareness.

Paul makes it clear that we will follow someone and encourages his readers to make good choices. He knows that many people give no conscious thought to who they follow. They may follow those they hear their friends talking about. They may look at social media, the music world or sports and assume that the most popular people are the best to follow. Without thinking they are being influenced by those they follow. Serving leaders ask those they lead to give conscious thought to this choice when they ask, “Who are you following?” With conscious awareness a follower can begin to make better choices about who they follow.  

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to encourage focus.

Paul encourages those who follow to “keep your eyes on those….” He desires for his followers to have clear focus. He understands that our thoughts follow our eyes, our actions follow our thoughts, and our habits follow our actions. Serving leaders encourage those who follow to keep a correct focus by asking, “Who are you following?” Serving leaders look for opportunities to elevate those who serve as good role models in the organizations they serve. They look for “those who live as we do” and when they find these people, they encourage others to focus on them. While a serving leader cannot determine where a follower will focus, they can share use meetings or other times to share examples of those who are good models.  

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to evaluate community.

Paul calls his followers to “Join together in following…” He sees a clear link between our ability to follow well and those who are around us. He believes in the power of community to shape our focus. Every leader needs a community of those who will encourage and challenge them to live well. There is power in following together, not in a clique or an elitist circle, but in groups of others who share similar values and vision. Followers need the same community and serving leaders are willing to ask them not only who they are following but to help them think about who they choose around them as they follow.

The serving leader listens well to the responses to these questions to better understand the person and better know how to serve them. And like Paul, the serving leader is not uncomfortable to call others to follow them since they also follow well!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What person(s) should I ask, “Who are you following?” and when will I do this?
  • After talking with them reflect on the following questions to evaluate what you heard.
    • What did I learn about those I lead?
    • What surprised me in these conversations?
    • How should their responses change the way I lead them? When will I take this action?
    • What steps can I take to encourage them to follow well?
    • Am I comfortable to offer myself as a model to others? What impact does this have on my leadership?    

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a question serving leaders ask themselves: “What am I doing to finish well?”