Sunday, April 3, 2011

Leader or Nut?

Matthew 16:24  "Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. "

It's been said that you can't be a leader if you don't have any followers. Derek Sivers had a different spin on that idea when he wrote, "The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader."  The leader must be public and easy to follow, but he doesn't become a leader till he has that first follower.  He goes on to say that, while the leader may be the flint that gets a movement fire going, that first follower is the spark.  He gives the first follower a huge amount of credit for the success of any movement, spiritual or otherwise.  Sivers suggests that it takes the first follower to help draw the rest.  He gives credence to the leader's vision, but the first follower also takes the risk of getting as much ridicule as the leader.  But you can read more here: http://sivers.org/ff.

Mr Sivers' comments got me thinking about our Christianity.  Both in what we believe and in how we evangelize. 

The New Testament tells us a lot about Jesus' birth, ministry, death and resurrection.  But most of His first thirty years on earth are a mystery.  So, we really don't know when that first follower connected with Him.  It could have been as early as that first time Jesus preached in the temple as a child, when so many were amazed at His wisdom.  It could have been preaching or a miracle that drew someone.  Or the promise of a new kind of peace entering their life. But someone was drawn to Him, shared his excitement, drawing others.  The rest is history.  But I can imagine that first follower, after some of the initial excitement wore off, starting to wonder about his own thinking.  We know there were men prior to Jesus purporting to be the Messiah.  And they and their followers might have been lucky to get out of town.  If not, they might have been stoned to death like Stephen was.  The first follower of Christ and quite a few after him had to be aware that committing to the Lord could potentially be their death sentence.  Yet, who Jesus was, how He led, how He loved, how and what He taught, and the promise of eternal life was compelling enough for them to risk death.  And so it should be for modern day evangelism.

When we evangelize, we need to be equally as compelling.  I don't know about your church and what it does.  But the one I attend will go pretty much anywhere to evangelize.  Which includes inner city gang areas and muslim territories.  And, just like the first followers of Jesus, they could be putting themselves and their families in harms way by becoming Christians.  We need to remember that when we and our message are rejected.  Or when it's accepted.  We need to be as gently compelling as Jesus when we share the Gospel -- we may be the first glimpse of God that they see.  And we need to be as loving and compassionate.  Jesus never left any of His followers flapping out in the wind for the "wiles of the devil" to draw back into their old life. In fact, He even promised the Holy Spirit would continue in His place after the Cross.  When we have a conversion to Christianity, like Jesus, we need to continue to disciple and give spiritual support, to give them the spiritual strength they need.

John Maxwell has rightly said that we all influence someone.  That area of influence is our area of leadership.  Christ's entire life was about influencing people to draw them to the Father, with no thought for Himself.  That's just the way our evangelism should be, too.  And, if we're not perfect at thinking and living that way, I suspect an omniscient God already knew that and has made contingencies for our shortcomings.  So, we can relax in being His follower.  And in being a leader of others as we draw them to Him.

Don't forget to pray for Libby.

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