I know a guy — don’t you love stories that start with that phrase, I’m always wondering if I’m that guy — who struggles as a leader. He doesn’t struggle thinking he’s a leader. He struggles being one. His followers quit following.
His employees quit working. His volunteers quit volunteering. Typically he thinks it’s their fault — bad followers. I’m spending some time this weekend with Jorn Junod and Discovery Road’s leadership, so I’ve got my mind saturated in leadership stuff today — thinking about followers and leaders.
Steve May tells a story that reminds me of some of the dynamics of leadership. A while back, he was putting gas in his car and a truck driver pulled over and approaced him. With a think accent, the truck driver said, “Excuse me. I don’t speak English. How to find Interstate 40?”
Steve turned to the man and said as loudly as he could (funny how we believe volume makes English more comprehensible, maybe that explains why when we are misunderstood we start to yell…), “Well, if you need to get to I-40 you’ll have to turn around and go up the other way. The best way is to cut across the road here, and then go west about a half a mile till you get to 45 bypass. Take that south for about 12 miles and then you’ll come to an overpass….”
How much of that do you think the english-challenged driver could understand?
The truck driver looked at him helplessly. Steve realized his words weren’t getting through. Then an idea occurred to him. He stopped and spoke two words the truck driver understood: “Follow me.” Relieved, he hopped in his truck, waiting for Steve to pull out on the road. 15 minutes later, as they approached the interstate Steve waved him on. He beeped his horn in appreciation.
There are some obvious leadership applications.
- 1) The lessons I’ve learned best in life are not the ones that have been shouted at me. They’re the ones that have been demonstrated by people with the capacity to lead by example.
2) Sometimes I’m more open to being led when I admit that I don’t know where I’m going. But to admit I don’t know where I’m going, I either have to be desperate or trusting.
3) When I choose who I’m going to follow, it would be wise to make sure that person knows the way.
4) Shouting doesn’t help those who don’t understand.
5) It’s easy to tell others how to do something, but sometimes it’s more effective to show them.
6) When I’m in need I’m willing to follow almost anyone who will stop and help. It shows me they care. As GenX preacher David Edwards says, “It’s not enough to be right, we have to be real.
The greatest leader who ever lived, died and lived again — Jesus — once said, (John 14) “>I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. He didn’t say, I’ll tell you the way He said, I am the way. That means we the best thing we can do is follow Him! During the last few months in our sermon series we have been exploring what it looks like to live like Jesus and leave a mark like Jesus. It involves following…
To the Corinthians, Paul said…”I urge you to imitate me…Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1) Can we, like Paul, say that we are following close enough in the footsteps of Jesus that we are comfortable saying to others, Follow me, because I’m following Jesus?
Here’s the deal — ponder this one — Jesus isn’t looking for fans…or facebook friends. He’s looking for followers. There’s a difference.