December 8, 2021
Leaders lead! They influence others as they think, dream and plan. But they also follow and are influenced by others. They are influenced by the books they read, the conversations they have, the mentors they choose, the seminars they attend, and the podcasts to which they listen. Serving leaders consider carefully who they are following. They reflect on the wisdom found in these verses:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20, NIV)
It matters who leaders follow! Serving leaders ask themselves the question, “Who am I following?” to ensure that they are in a healthy position to ask others to follow them.
Serving leaders ask, “Who am I following?” to ensure continued humility.
Paul calls others to follow him “as I follow…Christ.” He is able to call others to follow him because he is also a good follower. He demonstrates that followership comes before leadership. Leaders who assume that they are not following anyone may say, “I’m a self-made man” or a similar phrase. They talk about those who follow them as a measure of their leadership significance. These leaders are arrogant and foolish! Serving leaders lead, but they also acknowledge that they follow. They humbly acknowledge that many of their thoughts, ideas and behaviors are borrowed from others. They recognize that they even if they launch a new organization or business, they are building on the shoulders of others who have gone before them and are learning from those around them. They understand that if they don’t learn to follow well, they cannot call others to follow well. Serving leaders ask themselves who they are following to ensure that they remain teachable and humble. They are more focused on who they follow than who follows them.
Serving leaders ask, “Who am I following?” to ensure continued growth.
Serving leaders are passionate about growth and personal development. They read books, listen to podcasts, find mentors, and attend seminars. They understand that their growth impacts the growth of those who follow them. They identify areas in which they need to grow and seek out people they can follow that will help them in that area. But serving leaders are also concerned that they are growing in the right direction. Proverbs highlights that those who we associate with will impact who we become. “Walk with the wise and become wise.” Serving leaders seek out leaders above them who not only demonstrate competence in the areas in which they want to grow but demonstrate the character they wish to attain as well. They want to follow those who are wise not just those who are viewed as successful. Serving leaders shape their growth by choosing who they follow.
Serving leaders ask, “Who am I following?” to ensure continued impact.
Paul boldly calls others, “Follow my example as I follow…” He recognizes that when he follows well, he will impact the lives of others well. When he humbly acknowledges that he is also a follower, he has the courage to call others to follow. Serving leaders understand that they cannot call others to follow well until they follow well. They want to have an impact and change the lives of others, so they ask themselves who they are following before they call others to follow.
For further reflection and discussion:
- Who are currently the most influential persons that impact the way I think, behave, and lead? Have I selected these persons deliberately or did this just happen without thought? How satisfied am I with my current list of who I follow? What changes do I need to make?
- In what ways, if any, does my leadership reflect to others that I am not a “self-made” leader? Do I openly acknowledge to others those who influence my life? Do I quickly give credit for ideas I gain from reading, attending a seminar, etc.?
- In what areas do I most need to grow? Who are persons that I could learn from in this area? Is their life and character exemplary to me? What step(s) will I take to follow them?
- Do I ask others to follow me before I ask myself who I follow? How does that impact my leadership? Do I need to make any changes after my reflection on this issue?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
In the next issue, we’ll look at a question serving leaders ask others: “Who are you following?”