We’ve probably all played the game “Follow the Leader,” and while some may consider it just a simple game for children, it really does represent the whole point of leadership. After all, it’s hard to be a leader when no one is following you! So what does it look like to lead so that others can follow? In the last issue of Connexions, I shared about a picture of leadership, which encompassed five tried and true leadership practices.
One of those practices, “Model the Way,” describes how we lead through the four “C’s:” competency, chemistry, character, and calling. We need to know what we’re doing, be able to get along and work with other people, be a person of integrity, and be aware of and obedient to God’s calling on our lives. Psalm 78:72 speaks of David and says that “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”
Leading with character is extremely important, and attitude plays a big role in that. Your attitude is one thing you can control that will have a big impact on your success as a leader. How do you respond when things go wrong or when you face difficulties? Do you have the same values at home as you do at church? Are you following Jesus personally? You can only lead others as well as you are being led. If you’re not continually pursuing a close relationship with Christ and being led by Him, then where are you leading those who are following you? While changing negative attitudes can be difficult, it can be done with prayer and perseverance.
Another thing to keep in mind when leading so that others can follow is this: if we want the people we lead to follow us and stay on the right path, we need to guide from the front instead of driving from the back. Cattle ranchers drive from the back – they yell and use a whip to get the cattle where they need to be. Shepherds, on the other hand guide from the front. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and trust it enough to follow. When we have integrity and inspire trust in the people we lead, they will follow us. This is why in the LEAD U training that we do with leaders at GT, the biblical picture for “Model the Way” is the shepherd’s staff to remind us to lead from the front.
There is a story told about an army that was chasing after Alexander the Great. They were expecting to surprise him from behind and overtake him. What they weren’t expecting was being led completely outside the borders of the map they had and feeling completely lost. Sometimes that’s how it is with following Christ. He can lead us to places where we feel completely off the map with no clue where we are going. But if we continue to follow Him, we can be sure that we are going in the right direction along with those who follow us.