American culture centers around the idea of being a leader. We’re convinced that leaders are intelligent (both academically and emotionally), valuable, and desirable. Consequently, to label somebody as a follower is to insult their intelligence, value and desirability. We don’t believe we can trust followers the way we trust leaders because they’re just not commanding. Leaders fear nothing, break cycles of history, and unite people using innovative ideas. Followers simply go with the crowd and have little to offer.
I’m not alone in finding leadership attractive. I’m not alone in wanting to be a leader. And I’m not alone in doing things, even thinking things, for the sake of not being a follower. There are lengths we will go to prove we are leaders. Is that how it’s done, though?
Oh, how vain our psychology can be. We never question the dogmatic importance of leadership and the insignificance of followers.
Two quotes this week changed that for me.
“People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people.”
~ Carl Jung
That’s a heavy statement but I like to simplify and cross-relate (“apophenia”) so, I swapped the people and ideas for leaders and followers. I guess you could say I’m just making my own quote here, but hey! The idea had me.
Leaders don’t have Followers.
Followers have Leaders.
A leader does not possess followers. Rather, followers possess a leader. It makes sense if you think about it this way, a leader without followers is no leader at all. Followers have their leaders because their followership actually builds the leader up to his or her position.
But it’s hard to understand that reversal because we are supposed to lead the world out of darkness and into light. That requires us having followers.
And, nobody wants to be a follower. Yet, there’s truth in that we’re all following something regardless of what type of leader we make ourselves out to be.
I work in a school, which is humbling and especially so when you’re working with pre-kindergarteners. A sweet 4-year-old girl taught me a big thing about honesty and purity when she grabbed my hand Monday and told me,
“I love you, that’s why I want to follow you.”
~ Little Green Eyes
I think of how innocent a child must be to admit that. An innocence so strong that it thrives in dependence, it seeks out a leader, and it loves being a follower. I think of how Jesus died on the cross to make us innocent. Innocent enough to follow Him without reservation just like the girl who tugged on my hand ready to go where ever I was going.
Jesus is quoted over a dozen times in the Bible saying, “follow Me.” Maybe the truth is that being a follower can make you the best ‘leader.’
Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
And yes, my logician friends, I did think about my conjecture on leaders and followers. And about this logic that would also suppose we have ownership over Jesus, because as His followers we have Him.
Well, doesn’t it go that we have the Living Christ inside of us?
John 6:56-57, emphasis mine
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
There’s nothing embarrassing about being a follower. Jesus shed His life for you to be free of shame and so you could be innocent enough to say,
I love you, that’s why I want to follow you.
And if the wisdom of a 4-year-old did not humble you, then, my friend, you need Jesus 🙂