The book of Judges 5:2 says this, "That the leaders led in Israel, that the people volunteered, bless the Lord!"
The writer of Judges says that when leaders lead and people willingly follow, it is worthy of an expression of worship to God! Wow! So much emphasis is put on leaders to develop their skills so that people will willingly follow, and rightfully so, but I believe it is possible for good leaders to have unwilling followers. Jesus couldn't lead Judas. God couldn't lead Lucifer. David couldn't lead his son Absalom. And these are just a few of the biblical examples! Success comes only when there is a proper combination of a good leader and good followers.
Much has been written about leadership, but I want to spend some time over the next few blogs addressing the often forgotten skill of following. I believe real leadership begins with learning how be a great follower. What you sow as a follower, you will reap when you are the leader. So, let's begin by looking at some of the attributes of a good follower.
In Philippians 2:19-22, Paul, one of the greatest leaders in church history, makes some notable comments about a follower of his that we should pay attention to. He said this:
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
In verse 20 Paul says about Timothy “I have no one else like him.” You might read that and skip over it, but that is one of the greatest endorsement you could ever receive as a Christian. Paul is the greatest Christian who’s ever lived next to Jesus Christ himself. And Paul says I have nobody in the world like Timothy. If Paul said that about you, it would mean you’re at the top of the heap. You’re on the A list. You’re the very best Christian he knows. So this is not a small issue here. He says, I’ve got nobody like Timothy. We need to pay attention to this. Why did he single Timothy out like this? What made Timothy so special?
Paul goes on to tell us in verse 20 and 21. He says about Timothy, "he shows genuine concern for your welfare." In other words, “he genuinely cares about you." He goes on to say that “everyone looks out for their own interests,” making it clear that this type of unselfish thinking is rare and that Timothy is the real deal. He was a man who genuinely cared more about the kingdom of God than he did about himself and his own wants and desires.
So here we have the first characteristic of a great follower.
- A great follower is unselfish. He is compassionate, caring, and unselfish. He thinks about others, not just about himself. He’s not self-centered. He is caring while everybody else is only interested in their own agenda, their own business, their own things that they’ve got to do. If there’s ever a trait that’s needed today it’s this one. Because everything in our culture teaches us to be self-centered. It is rare to find an unselfish man. It’s rare. Paul says I don’t have anybody like him who genuinely cares about other people. Everybody else is only caring about themselves. They’re not self-giving. They’re self-centered.
- A great follower is trustworthy. The second trait of a great follower can be found in verse 22. Paul says this about Timothy “He has proved himself.” The word “proved” there means tested. It means verified. It means checked out. It means determined reliable. This guy is dependable. This guy is reliable. This guy has been proven faithful. One of the greatest abilities in life is dependability. The number of people who are dependable, who don’t flip flop, who keep their word, who do what they say, who keep their promises even when it hurts them, is unusual. What is needed today are men and women who are trustworthy. That’s number two.
God is looking for individuals who are caring and men who have a proven track record. Men of conviction and character. Jesus said it this way, "if you are faithful with little you will be given much." That's good followship.
We will continue to dig out more traits of good followers in the articles to come.
Question: Have you tried adding someone to your team who violated one of the above followship traits? What effect did it have on the team?