Lead or Follow?


I have a friend who wishes her children were leaders. She doesn’t like that they follow, instead of getting others to follow them. I questioned her on this. What is wrong with following? Unless its into sin, of course.

A few years ago, I had a similar conversation with another friend who was discouraged that she couldn’t figure out how to lead. She felt pressure to take a leadership role, felt inadequate for the task, and poorly prepared to step up. She wanted to know how to lead? She felt judged for NOT leading. As a result, I tried to piece together a few posts about what I saw in the Bible about leadership. (see below)  But frankly, the passages I used can also be applied to general good character. They aren’t taken from commands to exercise authority or exert influence over others. The more I think about it, the more I question. Where does the Bible say Christians must be leaders?

Two principles

  1. Christian leaders should rule differently than the world.

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Luke 22

2.   Christians should not desire to have power over others.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil 2

This phrase “value others above yourselves” means to let others lead or to exercise authority over you. I believe some are gifted as leaders and others aren’t. Yet, I believe every Christian has the ability to be humble and serve through the power of the Spirit. In this manner, they are the greatest in the kingdom. Leading others, or ruling as the world defines it by seeking power, should not be the ambition for those seeking to be like Jesus.

What do you think?

Did I miss something? Is leadership a mark of godliness? Should a Christian be content to follow?

If you’re interested, here my posts on leadership:

Follow the Leader (Introduction)

Take the First Step (My understanding of leadership)

Leadership from the Landowner (principles from NANC)

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5 thoughts on “Lead or Follow?

  1. Leadership is not a mark of godliness. Leadership should be based on the three “C”s — calling, character and competence. It is not a privilege one is born to based on one’s Y chromosome.

    Our heart attitude should be to serve and lift others up. Jesus said to take the lowest seat at the banquet. It seems to me that many male guests at the banquet are instead hanging on tightly to their chairs in the highest positions, and telling the rest of us not to be so ungodly as to want a higher chair!

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    1. Being in church leadership, I know it gets old hearing how much we should be doing. But things can only get done when someone steps up to do them! I think that’s why the church pushes making leaders. I think when we get to eternity, we will be surprised whose service/ leadership is actually valued highly in Jesus’ eyes! We probably don’t’ even see them at work!

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  2. This is a topic I’ve been stewing on this week (leadership being pushed in the church). I see it as an issue of gifting and discipline – God gives some the spiritual gift of leadership (or service, healing, prophecy, etc.), and are to use it to benefit the body (local church and the entire church); others without the *gift* nevertheless may, and should, perform the task as a *discipline* at certain times. For example, I consistently score low on leadership in spiritual gift inventories; but in relation to my daughter I am a leader.

    The problem is, that the church body needs *all* the gifts, and thus needs to let all the members serve in their capacities, but leadership and service are the two gifts being pushed, sometimes to the exclusion of the other gifts. At least this seems to happen in every church I’ve been a member. It is like we are being told, “Okay, we need you too, Elbows, but choose whether you will be a Head or a Hand.”

    The reason for the problem seems to be complex. I think that some nontraditional branches of traditional denominations are comfortable with embracing the *theory* of spiritual gifts, but in practice they are far more comfortable with the practical gifts of leadership and service than the obviously Spiritually-manifested ones like prophecy and healing. Plus, there is the natural tendency to see one’s own strengths as normative for all, and so those who are leading will tend to try to replicate more leaders, and as it turns out the leaders are the ones with the power to make it happen. But then gender comes into play too some of the time, and depending on what the leadership of a church is trying to prove, they may push members of either gender into leadership…

    As far as solving the problem, I have no idea. I have the spiritual gift of prophecy, and tend to score low on leadership and service. So basically, no one seems to want to listen to me. *sigh*

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    1. Hi Verity! Great insight.
      I wonder if the problem is birthed in our Western church of programs? We need leaders to run functions and events…whereas in the underground church, say in China, leadership prolly looks more like Jesus meant. The elbows are sought after and needed desperately to keep the faith alive in their quiet prophetic/healing way?

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