In ministry it's easy to get caught up in leadership and we forget is that to lead is first to follow.
Whether in your workplace or local church our first calling is to follow our Savior. Jesus' invitation to a couple of fishermen was "follow me" and Peter reminds us, "for to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Pet 2:21).
But there aren't a whole lot of books on what it means to be a follower. So today we take a look at this new book, The Call to Follow:Hearing Jesus in a Culture Obsessed with Leadership by Richard Langer & Joanne Jung
In the first chapter they highlight the importance of leadership. We need people leading ministries who are growing in maturity and equipped to serve, but they remind us that accepting leadership tasks is one way the growth happens. While placing value on leaders, they emphasize that followership is just as important.
The second chapter describes followership with the aspects of deference, engagement and zeal, and mission ownership. They share some ways we misunderstand what it means, when we're too focused on leaders, if we consider following a less worthy goal, or that followers don't need training - that was an interesting thought. They write, "what is learned as a follower informs, maintains, and sustains good leadership" and that, "these qualities are best viewed as essential outcomes of Christian formation - they are the fruit of practicing spiritual disciplines or soul rhythms."
Chapter 3 reminds us about the person and work of Christ. He frequently modelled leadership characteristics, but he was also a devout follower of the Father and submissive to authority.
In chapter 4, they discuss divisiveness and leadership failures, but they ask the provocative question whether leaders are entirely to blame. They write, "we often assume that bad leaders lead good people astray. When church and country lose their way, it is because bad leaders fooled or corrupted good followers. No doubt this happens at times. It is, however, extremely misguided to assume that the quality of followers plays no role in the quality of the leaders over them."
That's an interesting thought to sit on.
We are prone to blaming others for circumstances because then we no longer have to take ownership. Maybe because we're not sure how to be good followers. So they take some time articulating good principles for followers to practice within their communities.
Next we take a look at some historical examples of strong leaders who had strong followers and what they all had in common, leading us to the next chapter with teaching us what it means to follow Christ in the midst of an ordinary life.
This is what it sounds like:
"Though no one watches, still I will follow"
"Though no one trains me , still I will follow"
"Though others wander, still I will follow"
"Though no one praises me, still I will follow"
In chapter 7, they remind us about the soul rhythms of faithful followers. Cultivating these habits isn't a new message for the church, but since they can be difficult to implement, they bear repeating and encouraging.
Lastly, they discuss the rewards of following. They write, "though God calls us to follow him, and genuine following involves genuine sacrifice, such sacrifices do not go unrewarded." It's an encouragement for us to consider that yes faithful followership can be hard, growing in our soul rhythms and in our confidence as an ordinary person in the pews, but this is where the community begins to grow, on a personal level that spills out of us as we glorify God and act with good toward others.
Following isn't for the faint of heart. But it's what we signed up for when we counted the cost to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. To keep learning from Him and bringing renown to HIs name by becoming strong followers, delighting in Him, that He would continue to do His kingdom work through the church.
If you've never read a book on being a follower, this is the one. If you're in leadership, it will help you consider your first calling as a follower and how that plays out in your life and the life of your followers.
# of pages: 224
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate
My Rating: 4 stars
*Thanks to Netgalley and Crossway for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review