Leadership means various things to various people. And how people conceive and define leadership always shows in how they use the concept, for what purpose and how they react when someone that they thought was their follower suddenly takes a different turn. As an aside, I personally think being a leader is who you are with God when no one is seeing you and when no one is following you. I have heard someone say that you are a leader if you have people following behind you. Sounds like a great definition, but I do not necessarily buy it. I have also heard a pastor say in a church service that you know if you are valuable by the kind of people that follow you. That too is only good for whatever anyone thinks it is good for. For I realize that listeners of such messages get either very excited when they hear such statements, especially when they believe they have people of “status” following them around or they get very sad when they suddenly realize that no “people of status” are following them. And so people have gotten into messy mental situations because they do not fit into the definition of what someone calls a leader. To me, that is absolutely uncalled for. It’s like what I read somewhere about a pastor who told his congregation of singles that if a man is not married at the age of 35 then he is irresponsible. In my head I was like “I didn’t know that Isaac the Biblical patriarch was irresponsible, since he got married at the age of 40.”
I have been told before that I am rebellious to authority and that I don’t respect the concept of leadership and also the concept of spiritual fatherhood. I find that quite absurd and twisted. Just maybe I really don’t see things the way most people see them. And I am very fine with not being popular, especially if that popularity has nothing to do with God’s destination for me or if it is about bowing down to god-fatherism and the band-wagonism that comes with it in the name of honor. I was done with such many years ago.
Leadership like many other things in our society has become a tool for manipulation and people control. I believe in leadership, but from the place of leaders who are true servants.
For me, a leader is one who, by wisdom, sees the incoming generation, having conformed to God’s will for his own life, prepares the platform for their arrival, using the principles that will work for their unique generation without necessarily making them follow behind him. He sees them as those coming ahead of him and not as those following behind. My own definition.
What really is the noise about followership?
It seems people just take joy in having fools follow them about. Some leaders love followers that follow them like sheep with no brains. They love those that don’t question their choices and decisions, as if leadership is about brainless people following a big headed human who knows how to lord his unthinking mind on others. I remember reading a conversation on Twitter between a Kenyan guy and a Kenyan woman leader. The guy had said something about her foreign medical treatment or so and that got her infuriated. Trying to reprimand the guy, she made mention of the fact that she can’t allow anyone insult her because she worked for her leadership position, having spent fifty million shillings during her election campaign. I looked at her response and then it made sense why nothing gets done in Afrika. A fool comes into a leadership role simply because he or she has money to spend and when asked how he or she is leading by the same people they claim they are leading, they explode and quickly tell their followers how much above questioning they have become. That’s the kind of leadership someone wants me to follow? Absolute nonsense.
Leadership is a heart thing
I have often questioned some things I see or read in the news. For instance, you hear a nation’s opposition leader make threats that if he is not elected into office, there will be no peace in the nation. In my mind I am thinking, if this is your mind about what will happen if you are not elected, then what heart really are you contesting with? I mean, carriers of such hearts are not supposed to be in government, or any leadership position, they should be in prison. They are dangerous. Leadership is supposed to be about the passionate heartbeat of a person towards the emancipation of the people he loves and by that passion, gets into a position that will help his people get to that emancipation. But when it becomes one of war and bloodshed, then the question will be “For whom are you taking up a leadership position?”
The servant leader
The life of Jesus was that of a remarkable leadership skill. His leadership style comprised of those who followed Him like sheep, of those who followed Him because He asked them to follow Him, of those who followed just so they could have what to nail Him for, of those who followed Him because fish and bread would be served, of those who followed because in their hearts they saw something different about Him. But in all these groups of people following Him, He refused to see Himself as more than a servant of those whom God the Father brought to Him, irrespective of what their motives may have been. In His words, He showed us His mindset about leadership. He says “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mathew 20:25-28
Heart or head leader, which are you?
Obviously you can tell the difference between a leader by heart and a leader by head. Good hearted leaders don’t wait for anyone to follow them before their lives make difference in the lives of those watching them. Good hearted leaders may never be seen or known by the masses, but you can’t take away their effect in the community or corporation they are a part of. The fragrance of their heart always precedes them. The question is this, which leader are you?