By: Jeremiah Vik

Everyone wants to be a leader…maybe because following doesn’t feel as important as leading.

Just a few months into my first ministry role as a youth pastor, I was standing on the sidelines at a church volleyball league tournament watching my youth team play their hearts out.  As I approached a referee to ask a question about a call, the answer was out of his mouth before I could open mine, “Would you please go sit with the other kids? I’m only talking to adults and coaches!”

I felt pretty unimportant that day. It wasn’t so much because I was mistaken for being younger than I was—I was shaving at least once a week and hadn’t had a pimple in months!  No, it was the fact that I wasn’t recognized as a leader.  I was told to go sit with the other followers.

It’s only been within the last few years that I’ve begun to truly embrace my role as a follower and recognize the importance of following.  I am realizing that being a good follower is characteristic of being a good leader.  In fact, leadership and followership are inextricably tied.  You will never be a better leader than you are a follower; and as a leader, you never stop following.

When Jesus called His disciples, His words were simple, “Come, follow…” But somehow over the years and the busyness of directing ministry and staff, we have begun to hear: “Come, lead…”

The truth is, the Kingdom needs more followers. That doesn’t mean we need less leaders. We just need more leaders who know how to follow and model followership well.  “Lead by example,” we say--but are we displaying a good example of following?

In my life, that means being more teachable, coachable, and humble. It may involve something as simple as taking out a pen and jotting down notes when a fellow “leader” is speaking, instead of just nodding and critiquing in my head. It may mean exposing myself to articles, clips, and books, not to further my leadership potential, but to hone my ability to follow.

What are you doing to become a better leader? Are you intentionally developing your following skills?  If you’re not, you may be missing a vital element of quality leadership. How those skills are developed may look different in your life than it does in mine, but I encourage you to go into your summer with some leadership advice from a gruff volleyball ref and…go sit with the other followers for a bit.

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