Being a Good Follower

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

There are so many classes and books on leadership, and even graduate programs that specialize on that subject. The idea is that leaders can be trained to manage teams so they can accomplish goals together. Without them, there would be no rules, vision, and final decision-making authority. Cooperation between can be easy depending on the chemistry of the collective personalities in the room. But sometimes it can be hard because every person may differ in their opinions and beliefs. Conflicts are borne out of these differences, which is why leaders are essential to any group that wants to succeed. Organizations invest a lot of resources to hire and support leaders because they are the catalysts that help get things done.

But what happens when you have a bunch of leaders and no followers? What you get is a crowd of independent thinkers who only want to do things their way; and now the company returns back to a stagnant square one.

Jesus understood this dilemma when he laid eyes on all of us. What he sees is the lost and wandering nature in every soul of humanity. We all need direction and a shepherd to show us how live a proper life. So out of grace and compassion he became the Good Shepherd and began teaching audiences how to be good followers. In one of his lessons, he said that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15). As adults, we tend to be very selective with what we learn because we only keep what is valuable to us based on our experiences. Whereas children learn like sponges and often believe anything that a grown-up tells them. And I believe that is was the point that Jesus was making. To be his follower, we need to be submissive. We need to believe everything he says and try not to be a know-it-all skeptic. Otherwise, we won’t be able to walk or take action in faith. We become immovable statues stuck in our questions and disbelief.

In the work setting, the same principle applies. Our egos need to be set aside so we can support our companies, even when we have more experience than its appointed leaders. Otherwise, we hinder team growth and progress. Sometimes the greatest contributions come in the form of support roles where we give other people a chance to develop their leadership and problem-solving skills. We can always make suggestions or recommendations, but we must yield to their authority and final decisions. There is nothing wrong with being a sharpening stone if your leader is holding the axe.

Good followers are submissive and supportive of the plans laid before them. They believe in the work and the goals, and will seek ways to be collaborative. We achieve great gains when we bring this attitude into our jobs, and we glorify God when we live in submission to Jesus wherever we go.

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