Like I’ve said before, I never liked the word follower. I tend to think of followers as passive, easily led, people who fail to think for themselves or people who do what they’re told.
I’ve rarely done what I was told. (Yes, I changed the word “never” to “rarely.”) Often, when I’m told I must do something, I begin to think of other ways to accomplish the same objective or ways to avoid the action. The presence of a rule almost guarantees I invest some energy in going around, over or through it.
Unfortunately, when I’m honest, I follow too many things. I follow a sports team. I have trouble watching some of my most favorite teams because they can’t live up to my hopes. I follow other things too, including some great blogs, certain stocks and a number of friends. I keep up with them. It’s a slightly different, healthy, equal, informed, partner type of follow. I don’t do everything my friends say, but I like to be aware of what they’re doing and what they’re saying. I also follow certain companies and stocks in the hopes my 401k will one day (much too soon) provide some income and freedom.
But even in my job, I don’t ever want to be a follower when follower is defined as someone who does what they’re told. To me, when I choose to do what I’m told, that’s not following. Following to me means taking ownership of the ideas and values and goals of someone else. A real follower is someone who evaluates, processes, and finally embraces what the other says. I come closest to this with authors, bloggers and friends who share my values. My thinking can be heavily influenced by great thinkers who also write. I’ve shared much on the writings of Seth Godin. I read most of what John Ortberg writes and of what Chuck Colson wrote. I’ve been influenced over the years by R. C. Sproul and Erwin McManus as well as John Kotter, Kouzes and Posner, Ken Blanchard, Patrick Lencioni, Mark Sanborn and numerous others.
Much of what I think has been shaped by leaders. I just don’t become something other than a leader by allowing great people to influence me.
However, this doesn’t apply when it comes to one person. I chose a number of years ago to follow Jesus. Before I chose to follow Him (and even for years afterward) I would tell you I didn’t follow anyone. In fact, I thought I was following myself. I listened to myself and took care of myself. I created a group of beliefs that I adhered to. I was my own leader, dare I say, god.
One day I realized my beliefs didn’t add up. They didn’t make sense. As I listened to a presentation about what it meant to follow Jesus, I decided to embrace just a little of the truth I heard and my life was instantly and forever changed. A new truth and an uncommon sense came to me when I decided to live like Jesus’ claims were true. I realized truth in the person of Jesus. I became a follower of One.
But I didn’t become less of a leader, rather I began to take responsibility for my leadership. Others became more important. Influence is a responsibility. I hope people who grant me the gift of influence are improved, energized, excited, mobilized, empowered. I hope they flourish; their lives touch others, they impact their world for good.
I hope you make great choices that help you flourish simply because we know one another.
What’s your passion? What difference do you hope to make in the world? Share your thoughts below and make a difference.