OPINION COLUMNS

Following the leader

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Almost everyone, at some time, has played “Follow the Leader.” I have always liked this game – as long as I am leading.

I can be a good follower as long as the leader is going somewhere I want to go. But I can be pretty impatient if I am asked to follow somewhere else.

That statement was only partially true. I can be impatient, but it really isn’t very pretty.

For the past week or so, I’ve spent a lot of time focused on leadership. I spent four full days at a retreat center near Glen Rose with a group of about 30 church leaders focusing on becoming better servant leaders. At this retreat, I was one of the students.

I was home from this retreat for about 12 hours before I left to take another group of leaders to Green Bay, Wis., to lead a conference for church leaders.

I am writing this from a hotel room in Green Bay. There is snow on the ground. It is 40 degrees colder here than it is at home. I will be preaching tomorrow morning in a church full of people I have never met, who are probably Packers fans! I will be leading a workshop tomorrow afternoon for a group of church leaders, most of whom I have never met, who operate in a different culture than the one where I spend my days.

What can I possibly have to offer? What in the world am I doing here? What if I look back and no one is there?

I ask myself these questions and myself answers, “So what? It’s not about you!”

Here’s a great truth for life and for leaders. If you can’t follow, you have no business leading. The moment you think you have nothing left to learn, or that you don’t need anyone else’s input, you have lost your effectiveness as a leader.

So how do you know whom to follow? Glad you asked.

Then He [Jesus] told all of them, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continually, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world, but destroys himself or is lost?” (Luke 9:23-25)

Did you know that Jesus never once told people He wanted them to become “Christians.” The word Jesus used was “disciple.” A disciple is one who follows, learns, obeys and acts like Jesus.

Here’s my message to leaders (and my reminder to myself): You may be a leader, but you are not at the head of the line. Our lives matter so much to God that He protects us from the pressure of having to be in charge of the world.

Now, if I were in charge of the world… that really wouldn’t be pretty.

Dr. Gerry Lewis is director of missions for the Harvest Baptist Association, which is headquartered in Decatur. He writes a blog at www.lifematterstoday.blogspot.com.

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