“The greatest leaders I know are followers”
Several years ago I began a study of the top ten American churches. While serving as a lead Pastor for fourteen years I studied the bible asking the question “What does God require of the modern church?” This study was quite different in nature. It changed my life and career almost as much as the previously mentioned biblical study. With years of biblical comparisons I began to study the top ten American churches and their pastors. I purchased books from each Pastor, downloaded their sermons, visited their websites, followed them on social media, and researched them extensively. I joined a daily bible devotion with one pastor, received monthly coaching from another, and even entertained possibilities of a job offer during my time of research and study. I can take years of knowledge and comprise it into one sentence. The greatest leaders I know are followers.
“Elisha was a great prophet because he followed a greater prophet.”
The bible proves great leaders are great followers. Elijah, a prophet who hears from God and then shares with the king, walks by Elisha and obtains him as a follower. Elisha leaves the comforts and inheritance of home to follow Elijah a successful leader and prophet. Oftentimes Elijah tries to get Elisha to consider staying behind, separating himself from the problems of the ministry, but Elisha faithfully pursued. He followed closely behind his mentor and coach. Elisha’s faithful pursuit of following the example of Elijah produced a ministry of mass proportion. Elisha was a great prophet because he followed a greater prophet.
“Every good leader is a great follower.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without him.” That is exactly what one of the top ten American churches said about Pastor Rick Warren. I’m not promoting any man over Jesus, nor were they, but they were proving a valid point. “God uses people, just like he used prophets, to influence leaders.” This makes every leader a follower. Every Church and Pastor I studied all passionately describe a greater leader or church they consider their mentor. Along their journey to be original in nature they each had someone greater they learned from. They all remain disciplined in following others which makes them pursue excellence and greatness in their field. Elisha historically has a greater ministry than Elijah, but without Elijah, there would be no Elisha, The greater the follower, the greater the leader. If you want to be a great leader, you have to be a excellent follower.
“Follow those who are strong where you are weak.”
As I was talking to one church in particular I counted twelve connections of people who tremendously influence the Pastor and church. This pastor is considered to be one of the “Top” in his field but he disciplines himself to follow other churches examples of things he knows he is weak in. When I asked about worship style and music selection I was told “We use another churches stuff for that, they are way better at that than we are.” So now when I see a church conference line-up of speakers, I see how they all seem to connect. Many times the top leaders are all learning from one another and are learning from another’s strengths. It makes us stronger leaders and better followers when we follow others who are stronger.
“Find someone who is greater, and pursue him with passion.”
Jesus is the greatest leader I know. He was constantly pointing people towards heaven to his Father. He pursued Gods will with passion. Whatever your past, current, or future ministry, never forget the most important factor is to always passionately pursue Jesus. More than we follow any model, pastor, example, or style, never forget that Jesus speaks personally and intimately. Follow Jesus closely and faithfully. Be sensitive to hear directly from him as he leads you, he might be wanting to use you as a great example for others.
“You only get one life, so live every day with no regrets, and sleep comfortably each night, knowing that if you do not wake, the world is a better place because you were in it.”