Tag: follow

You Won’t Be Your Best Leader Until You Do This

Leader

There is a lot of cultural emphasis on becoming and being a good leader. Additionally, there is plenty of conversations on how to develop others into good leaders. I have read numerous books and blogs on leadership, many of which had great content. Realistically the characteristics of good leadership are pretty standard across the board. However, there is one quality often overlooked regarding leadership; followership. Followership is a critical aspect of good leadership. Following well equips you to lead well, when the time comes. And, without having been a successful follower; you will likely never be your best leader.

In the last decade or so, followership has been edged out of the leadership discussion. But, learning how to follow is integral to learning how to lead. When choosing someone for a leadership position, one of the first attributes I look for is a history of successful followership. It is in that experience of following that a leader is able to understand what others need in an effective leader. That experience also afford a leader with a clearer picture of those people being led. A leader who was a good follower is more likely to value those being led, rather than viewing them as “capital.”

At some point all of us will be placed in the role of follower. In fact, it is in our role as a follower that we are equipped to fulfill our other roles (leader, spouse, parent) in healthy and effective ways. What does an effective follower look like? A good follower is:

Respectful

Respect for the authority of those we are following, or working for, but also for those we interact with on a daily basis. There will be instances when we are placed under the authority of someone who does not lead well. The ability to remain respectful, and acknowledge authority, will develop our character. Experience under a poor leader will provide the opportunity to study ineffective leadership and avoid similar mistakes in the future. Followership is the act of mindful submission to authority, even poorly executed authority.

Confidence

Not only being confident in the person leading you, but also in why you are following them. A confident follower knows where they stand and what they stand for. Confident followers are aware of their gifts and abilities. They understand how they contribute to the success of the team and their leader. Seasoned confidence is a vital characteristic for transitioning to a leadership role.

Tact

Difficult situations call for experience in knowing when and how to speak. Tact is action, tempered by sensitivity and wisdom. Knowledgeable and confident leaders are tactful. As a leader, your tact will help garner trust from those you interact with and especially those who follow you.

Servant Hearted

As a follower, servanthood is not the bowing down to a tyrannical boss. Instead, servant hearted following is a decision to develop a character of humility and compassion. It is a desire to serve the people you work for and with, because you value them. A servant’s heart expresses genuine concern for others. The humility and compassion a leader needs to serve those they lead is developed as a follower. When those you lead experience your compassion and respect, you will envoke a willingness to follow you and fulfill the mission.

Teachable

John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Learning is a forever event. To lead is to always be learning. Followers settle early into their role as student and carry that into leadership. Being teachable means knowing that there is always more to learn and that it can come from anyone.

Even if you are already in a leadership role, it is never too late to learn followership. Become a good follower. If you work for someone, become intentional about following him or her well. If you work for yourself, find someone who is beyond you in experience and wisdom, and put yourself under their leadership.

Ultimately, the most important follower role that we will ever take on, is being a follower of Jesus. He is the definitive Follower; in that He laid aside His divinity and obediently followed God’s plan to the cross; so that we could follow Him into glory. When we enter into that follower role, everything changes. It is then that our expectations for what makes a great leader elevates to unimaginable levels.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

~ Philippians 2:5-8 ~

How to Guarantee Success

SuccessThis past weekend I had the opportunity to hear Pastor TL Rogers, from The Triumphant Church in Washington D.C., preach on the importance of being a single, whole person before getting married. It was a great message in and of itself (you can watch it HERE) and there’s a ton more that could be said about the importance of wholeness, but there’s one thing that he said that I’d like to key in on. He said, “Success is predictable.” He was talking about success in marriage, but the idea spans the whole of following Jesus and Christendom.

He pointed to Joshua 1:8 as evidence. In that verse God is commissioning Joshua to lead the Israelites after Moses death. God tells Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” There it is. Follow the law then you’ll be prosperous and have good success. To be sure, God wasn’t simply talking about material success. He was telling Joshua what it would take to have success as His people and that started with following the law as He gave it to them.

If that’s true, we can extrapolate that out and apply it to the New Covenant in Jesus and use that verse as our guideline for success and prosperity. By the time Jesus hit the scene the Jews had over 600 laws that were required for “righteousness.” An impossible task, if ever there was one. When asked which is the most important, Jesus said, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” If all the other laws depend on those two commands, then the promise of success found in Joshua 1:8 requires our continued obedience to them. 

What that mean in a practical sense is that as followers of Jesus our success, in everything, is dependent on not letting love depart from our lips, meditating on it day and night and being careful to do all that Jesus commanded surrounding love. That means being His witness to an unbelieving world by caring for widows and orphans, being agents of healing, loving each other well, displaying grace and forgiveness and not seeking to condemn others. Success looks like the love of Christ acted out by His followers. 

Let’s be successful.

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3 Things the Gospel Isn’t

FalseThis blog has been around for a few years. During those years, the structure and my writing style has change a few times but my heart for why #ApproachGod exists has remained the same. But, it wasn’t until recently that I started really being able to articulate what #ApproachGod is for. Here it is: I want #ApproachGod to encourage conversations that will help build communities that cultivate love, so that people can see that they’re invited, through Jesus, to approach God the Father. The most important part of building communities that reflect Jesus, is the Gospel Message. Actually, without understanding the Gospel Message, a love cultivating community that is pursuing Jesus, doesn’t exist. I think that a lack of understanding the Gospel is one of the main barriers keeping us from having genuine communities where people are loved to Christ.

I could just tell you what the Gospel message is, but where’s the fun in that. And, I’ve written that so many times (I’ll also include it at the end of this article). Here’s three things that we typically twist the Gospel message into, but that it is most definitely NOT

A Means to Condemn Others

We’ll start here, mainly because I constantly see articles and stories with Christians shouting about what others are doing that doesn’t line up with scripture. Right off the bat Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” In that passage of scripture Jesus is explaining God’s great love for the world and how He fits into it. He does say that those that don’t believe in Him are already condemned. The implication is that all of us are already condemned, but those that chose to believe that Jesus is who He said He is, can be saved. The point is, Jesus came to save people out of condemnation. Is it important for people to understand the link between their condemnation and the salvation Jesus offers? Yes. But, our commission wasn’t to condemn people’s sin. In being Jesus’ witnesses to a dying world, we’re to address their unbelief of Him, that is their primary sin. Conviction, not condemnation, for any other sin is the job of the Holy Spirit.

We can’t be hell fear mongers and hope dealers at the same time.

 Tweet: We can’t be hell fear mongers and hope dealers at the same time. #ApproachGod | http://ctt.ec/ZefcD+

How many people do you think actually turn to Jesus by being told, by a stranger, that they’re a horrible sinner? If you do a quick Google search for statistics you’ll see that the declining numbers in the church suggests that technique works on very few people. What does work is loving and serving people. It’s the reason that Jesus acted and taught the way He did. It’s why He said he came to serve not be served, told us to love your neighbor and your enemy and to pray for your persecutor. It’s why He begged God to forgive those that were crucifying Him. He knew that love was a far better invitation than fear. Oh, and that’s why John said that there is no fear in love. We can’t be hell fear mongers and hope dealers at the same time. When we use Jesus, the cross, or the bible as a means to generate fear in others, you’re not teaching the Gospel.

When it comes to unbelievers, they need to see Christ acted out and active in our life. It’s for that reason that Peter reminds us that we ought to honor Christ in our hearts and be prepared with an answer for the hope that is in us. He was saying that people will see and ask. When that happens, the focus for Christ’s goodness ought to be by the word of our testimony for what He’s done in OUR sin filled life. Then we can talk about how that translates to humankind. It isn’t our responsibility to identify the sin in an unbeliever’s life. 1 Corinthians 5:13 relieves us of that responsibility. For the believer, if we’re in relationship with them, the Gospel is still meant to draw them to God, because we’re still “being saved.” If we’re in community with them, we’re called to loving correction, not chastising condemnation.

A Way to Excuse Your Behavior

I think this gospel is for many Christians, the preferred one. I know that it used to be mine. I used to hinge my entire religious experience on the idea of God’s good grace. Honestly, it was the only reason I walked into church after a weekend of partying and drinking. I had this illusion that I could choose to act however I wanted and God would forgive me. While it is true that God forgives all sin, choosing to sin and expecting forgiveness is actually an abuse of grace and not at all what it means to follow Jesus.

When the religious leaders brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, He not only made the point that her condemnation isn’t theirs to deal in, He told her that He doesn’t condemn her, then said “go and sin no more.” After extending His mercy, He offered her grace and expected that if she decided to receive it she would need to stop doing the very thing that landed her at His feet. But, it wasn’t an expectation that she’d simply change her behavior, it was an expectation that His response to her need for love would so impact her heart that it would change her understanding of how that need was to be met.

The Gospel is not our get out of jail free card. The simple fact that you said a prayer (me included) at some youth event when you were 12, doesn’t give you carte blanche to act however you want. Following Jesus is the continued submission to the pressing of the Holy Spirit on your mind and heart. The Gospel played out in your life is the continual acknowledgement of God’s love for you, thorough the daily confession of Jesus, by the repeated submission to the Holy Spirit. The Gospel isn’t meant to provide you with a way to live any way you feel like, it’s meant to provide you with a way to live better than you can imagine and in a way that invites others into the same joy.

A “To Do” List

It just isn’t this. The Gospel isn’t a list of correct ways to behave. It isn’t behavior modification. The message of the Gospel is not “do this, this and this and you can get into heaven.” It’s about heart transformation. It’s the shedding off of the old you and the putting on the new you, through the work of the Holy Spirit. I used the word shedding intentionally. If you’ve ever observed a snake shed it’s skin, then you know it’s a slow process. But, as the old skin comes off, the skin under it is new and so much more vibrant. It’s the same with us. As the Holy Spirit brings conviction in a particular area, we begin the process of shedding it off. It isn’t without difficulty, and sometimes pain, but the new underneath is so much more vibrant. So much so, that it’s actually life-giving; others are moved toward Jesus by the change that the Holy Spirit prompts in us.

If the Gospel is anything close to a “to do” list, there’s only two things on it: Believe and confess. If we believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with our mouth (and this isn’t just the “sinner’s prayer,” it’s so much more, but also another blog), we’re saved and we can start the process of being saved and living in His kingdom. When we simply make the Gospel a list of ways to behave, we burden ourselves and others with the same thing that Jesus accused the religious leaders, of His day, of doing. We make following Jesus too burdensome and heavy. But, Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden if light; so we ought not add anything to that.

What It Is

It’s John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Gospel turns hearts to loving God, loving our neighbors and loving each other. The Gospel is God’s love poured out, in the person of Jesus, so that we can be with Him. It’s meant to heal the one relationship that matters above all else, so that we can be vehicles for healing others’ relationships with Him. We use the Gospel to introduce people to the One that closes the gap between them and their Father.

*I‘d love to dialogue with you. But, I want to dialogue with you only if you’ve actually read what I said. If you chose to comment, please start your post with “Timey Whimey” Thanks.

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