The Power of Followship
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
A follower's impact on a leader’s ability to lead is great. Many followers don’t understand their power to make the one they lead a great leader. We often talk about great leaders, but great leaders are great because they have great followers. I think of my pastor of many years, Dr. Jack Hyles. Bro. Hyles was a great leader, but underneath him was a church that happily followed his leadership. He was a great pastor partly because he had great people who followed him. You will never know the greatness of the person you are following until you choose to be a great follower. Many great leaders are hidden by poor followers.
In Colossians 3, notice that God addresses the follower before he addresses the leader. In verses 18-19, God addresses the wife before He addresses the husband. In verses 20-21, God addresses the children before He addresses the parents. In verses 22 and 25, God addresses the servant before He addresses the master. God knows the power that followers have, and if the follower is the follower they are supposed to be, the leader can be the leader God wants them to be.
Let me explain. God tells the wife to submit to her husband before He tells the husband to love his wife. Yes, the husband should love his wife, but a wife submitting to her husband makes it easier for the husband to love his wife. God tells the children to obey their parents before He tells the father not to provoke their children to anger. No parent should provoke their children to anger, but it is much easier for parents not to provoke their children to anger if the children are obeying. God tells the servant to obey their master before He tells the master not to treat their servant in a wrong manner. In each instance, the follower is addressed to do right before God addresses the leader to do right.
Your ability to follow will affect your leader’s ability to lead. It is much easier to lead when you have followers who will follow as they are supposed to follow. It is hard for a pastor to lead his people are unwilling to follow. Much of my counsel to pastors over the years has been about their frustration to get their members to follow as they try to reach the lost for Christ. My counsel to parents over the years has often been about how to get their children to follow and not rebel. We hear that everything rises and falls on leadership, but everything also rises and falls on the follower’s following. A leader cannot lead if you are not willing to follow.
Moreover, your frustration with your leader is often minimal compared to their frustration with your lack of following. One of the problems with followers is they always have ideas on how the leader should lead better when they should be looking for ideas on how to follow better. When you get a follower who is possessed with being a good follower, you will find your leader will be able to lead you better.
Are you frustrated with your leader? Do you see your leader not doing what you think they should do? Let me reverse the roles in your mind and get you to look at your willingness to follow. If you will follow properly, your leader will be able to lead as they should lead. Everything does rise and fall on leadership, but they can only lead if you will follow.