Lead or Follow?

Someone once said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” 1

On the surface, it would seem that leading and following are two very different – even mutually exclusive – activities. I submit, however, that you cannot be a good leader without first being a good follower.

No one is born with all the knowledge and wisdom of the universe already planted in his brain. If I am not willing to submit to the leadership of others from whose wisdom I can learn, I will be much less effective at leading others who may be able to benefit from my wisdom. Teachers must first be learners, or they will have nothing to teach.

This principle is most evident when observed in the spiritual realm. Effective spiritual leaders are those who first submit their lives to the sovreignty of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ.

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:6-10)

This may seem counter-intuitive, but as a person’s leadership role increases in significance and scope, his genuine sense of humility and selflessness must increase in proportion. Arrogance and self-importance are the most dangerous threats to true leadership.

Jesus’ apostles argued with each other about which of them was the greatest (Mark 9:33-35). Jesus sat them down and explained, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

To be a good leader, then:

  • first learn to be a good follower; and
  • commit yourself to serving others.

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What are some characteristics you consider important in a good leader? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

QUICK TWEETS:

  • “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” (Tweet that!)
  • You cannot be a good leader without first being a good follower. (Tweet that!)
  • No one is born with all the knowledge and wisdom of the universe planted in his brain. (Tweet that!)
  • Teachers must first be learners, or they will have nothing to teach. (Tweet that!)
  • Effective spiritual leaders are those who first submit their lives to God. (Tweet that!)
  • “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6) (Tweet that!)
  • “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10) (Tweet that!)
  • Arrogance and self-importance are the most dangerous threats to true leadership. (Tweet that!)
  • “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) (Tweet that!)
  • To be a good leader, first learn to be a good follower. (Tweet that!)
  • To be a good leader, first commit yourself to serving others. (Tweet that!)

 

Footnote:

  1. This quote is commonly – but incorrectly – attributed to Thomas Paine. It is nowhere to be found in his published works. See Wikipedia article.

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