Do you like being the one with the plan?
Are you more fulfilled when you’re leading a group or heading up a project?
Or, would you rather work covertly behind the scenes?
The Bible is filled with take-charge kind of folks like Joshua, Nehemiah, Peter, and Paul. However, Scripture’s Spirit-filled writers also spilled much ink for those who quietly exhibited great faith by playing second fiddle. Barzillai met the needs of King David, Barnabas did the same for Paul, Andrew stood in Peter’s shadow, and John the Baptist made the way for Jesus.
If we were all followers, we would wander aimlessly and unproductively without a leader. On the other hand, if we were all leaders, we might spend our time expressing our opinion on how to get the job done and never accomplish a thing. Thanks be to God for making us all different, and completely dependent on each other. We were made to complement one another.
“We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So, since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” Romans 12:4-6, The Message
I asked a humble and effective leader friend of mine if she’d rather lead a project or be content to follow. As usual, she thought it through and then gave a very wise answer. She said, “It all depends on who I’m following.” And there’s the rub. We all want leaders who exude a humble confidence that comes only from time spent in the presence of Jesus. Wise leaders make accepting the role of follower much easier. After we accept our specific roles, we must also agree to accept the responsibilities that come with them.
“Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.” Paul in Philippians 2:14-16, The Message
If you see yourself primarily as a leader (in the church or the workplace), remember that you enjoy following a follower of Jesus. Do for others what you’d like done for you. If you see yourself primarily as a follower, you are in good company with Jesus who “did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity.” (Philippians 2:6-7, CSB)
There are no unimportant parts in the body of Christ, so let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be. Whether you take the lead or follow behind, just walk beside me and know that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6)