All of us are called to follow someone’s instructions. Effective leadership is not forging a solo path ahead of others; it’s learning to follow the right instructions from the right leader at the right time. Dysfunctions in Christian leadership were typically dysfunctions in followership long before they became dysfunctions in leadership.
Simon Says and the Privilege of Pastoral Leadership
Simon Says is one of the most familiar games children play—and it’s one that’s been around a long time. The current form of the game seems to have started no fewer than eight hundred years ago. Yet even after centuries of play, the rules of the game haven’t changed much.
You do remember how to play Simon Says, don’t you?
Someone at the front of the room delivers commands that can range from “touch your toes” to “put your finger on your neighbor’s nose.” You follow the instructions—but only if they’re preceded by the clause “Simon says.” The key to being a Simon Says champion is to listen carefully for Simon’s name. If you follow instructions that Simon didn’t say, you’ll find yourself on the sidelines. It’s true in Simon Says, and it’s true in leadership as well.
Some leaders seem to think that leadership means hauling a flag ahead of their followers, independently plotting courses and strategies for the organization. Such leaders fail to recognize that every leader is first a follower and that leadership was never meant to be a solo endeavor. The positions to which we are called never privilege us with sovereignty above or separation from the people. Instead, they provide us with opportunities for stewardship among these people that we are privileged to lead. Followership is an essential skill for staying in the game. It’s true in Simon Says, and it’s true in pastoral leadership. We are followers of Christ before we are leaders of Christ’s people, and dysfunctions in our pastoral leadership were typically dysfunctions in followership long before they became dysfunctions in leadership.
Pastoral Leadership as Christ-Centered Followership
That’s what Michael Wilder and I explore together in this video that we’ve developed with the goal of equipping churches to raise up better leaders. Please feel free to use this tool in any way that might help your church to develop more Christ-centered leaders: