In last week’s bible class, John Carter brought up a word that is circulating in the business world as it relates to leadership: that word is followship. There is a book about it entitled, Followship: The Surprising Secret to High-Impact Leadership. What exactly is meant by this word? I found this working definition: a willingness to accept direction and guidance from leaders in an organization. An employee who practices followship recognizes that any effective organization needs both leaders and followers. I know the church is not a business, nor should it be treated as one. Even so, the relationship between the leaders which are in place and the members of the church family are so important to our ability to move forward for the cause of Christ.
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls…
As one of three shepherds here at Biddeford, this verse troubles me at times, and I suspect it does you as well, but for a different reason. The Body of Christ has a certain level of responsibility towards those who are given the task to lead. Obedience (i.e., submissive) are words that go against the grain, whether that be within the family, work place or any other form of authority we may experience. That being said, it is not the intent of this article to focus on what others are called to do; but rather, the, at times, overwhelming task of watching “out for your souls” given to those willing to lead. Our leadership skills, or the lack thereof, is something we will give an account of one day. Yes, I am confident of God’s marvelous grace and mercy with His children, including those who lead. Still, the very idea that an account will be given suggests that those who assume the task of leading, do so with purpose. There are numerous aspects to the idea of leadership and this idea of “followship” is one that is very biblical.
Follow my example,
as I follow that example of Christ.
1st Corinthians 11:1, NIV
As Paul seeks to lead the church in Corinth from a distance, these simple, yet powerful words emerge to reveal both how one might lead (or at least one aspect) and how others may seek to follow. So, Paul exhorts the church to follow his example: that is, to imitate him in what he is doing. It was back in 1654 that a man named John Selden penned the words, “Preachers say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’” In other words, don’t imitate my behavior but obey my instructions. Matthew 23:3 speaks of those leaders who “say, and do not do” themselves: such leadership is useless to the cause. But here, Paul’s invitation to look towards him for guidance is connected to his own personal walk with Christ. He says, “Imitate that which you see in me, as long as it is what you see in Christ.”
What is interesting about shepherding the Lord’s church is that some of the sheep are being called to lead the sheep. Such an objective is in need of all involved to understand their role in things. For the shepherd, at least in part, one of the tasks we have is to invite you to follow us as we follow Christ.