I read a good article this morning: Good Followership by Janie B. Cheaney (World Magazine). I appreciated her insight, near the end, “good followership relies on trust – in the Head, not the man.”
This has been an important lesson throughout my life. I know it’s important because God keeps helping me learn it, and relearn it, and relearn it, and relearn it… This lesson, which I’ve never seemed to learn, has names associated with it – Jim, Don, Yemi, Tim, Stan, Mike, Roger. I can recall the hard parts of followership associated with each of these leaders I’ve had.
You’d think that I’d catch on and finally pass the application test. Must be something about a hard Seabourn head.
God wants me to look through the difficulties I’m having with _____ (fill in the blank with your personal adversary in a leadership role). God wants me to not even see _____, but to see Him — the sovereign, in charge, never confused Creator King whose #1 purpose in my life is to help me conform to the image of Jesus Christ. He knows that the greatest good to Keith comes when Keith is most like Jesus Christ. And the best way to become more like Jesus Christ is to allow the difficulties in life to chip away at anything that doesn’t look like Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t know of some of those un-Christlike areas unless I had leaders I have difficulty following. Unless I have experiences that I’d rather not have.
As the author of the article puts it, “If our leaders take a wrong turn, God can correct them with useful lessons learned. If we throw away some good years following the wrong man, God can restore those years. An infinitely creative Father can even create good from evil. In fact, it’s His specialty—if we trust Him, and continually ask, what would He have us do?”
There are specific answers that we have to wrestle with – do I change to a different ministry? Do I move to a different church?
But I think the first answer to “What would He have us do?” is to look through the leader to the Lord who is using the leader to help me become more like Jesus Christ. I think that once we’ve answered this correctly, then the specific answers have a more appropriate, seemingly-lesser urgency. Like the Scott Krippayne song says:
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child