Christians cannot wake up or spill their coffee without hearing about leadership.
But what is leadership?
About a year ago I was introduced to Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers, and it revolutionized my understanding of leadership. I’ve attached the short video below and included the transcript at the bottom.
Though I have no reason to believe Mr. Sivers is a Christian, and though nothing he said in his video was a quote from the Bible, he still made some extremely biblical observations about leadership that I would like to borrow and apply directly to the Church.
What’s a Leader?
Merriam-Webster thinks that a leader is
“a person who has commanding authority or influence.”
I think we’d all agree with that definition. The leader is usually where the buck stops, the big dog, the head honcho, the big cheese. The leader is the popular personality people flock to. The leader is the big thinker. The leader has lots of followers.
And Christians are encouraged to be that guy. Make a difference. Don’t be a follower of the world, but a mover and shaker for right.
But is it possible that admonition to leadership couldn’t be more wrong?
What’s a Follower?
Merri Web told me that a follower is
“one in the service of another, one that follows the opinions or teachings of another, one that imitates another.”
I think you may see where I’m going with this.
“But wait!” you say. “We have to be a light, salt, and a bold testimony in this world which leads people to the Savior. We can’t do that if we’re simply following!”
Let’s take just 3 minutes to learn a very insightful lesson from a follower of the Shirtless Dancing Guy.
What’s a “First Follower”?
I love this concept! This is exactly what we’re called to do in this life. And no, I’m not suggesting we be the Shirtless Dancing Guy’s first follower.
What is it Jesus did when He came to this earth? Everything He said and did was in obedience to the Father’s will . . . Jesus was a follower. He was the perfect First Follower.
And we’re called to be the first follower of Christ.
Remember what a follower is?
“One in service of another.” Yeah, that’s us.
“One that follows the opinions or teachings of another.” Yup. Us again.
“One that imitates another.” I think we’ve got it.
Is it possible I’m playing a game of semantics? I don’t think so. I believe the practical definition of leadership that’s pervading our culture is one where the leader is the end-all. If we look back at the dictionary definition we see a person with authority, but what’s our authority? It’s not in us. Our authority is not our own, it’s vested in our true Leader.
And I believe our calling is much higher and more important than merely being a “leader.” We’re to be servant followers of Christ!
Is it true that our calling includes being salt and light? Definitely! Is it true that we need to be a fisher of men? Every day. But we must remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’re encouraging others to follow our example, not because we’re so great, but because our Leader is.
Be God’s first follower to everyone you meet. Invite them to follow Him with you. Paul did this same thing in I Corinthians 11:1,
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
Evermind who the real Leader is and follow Him.
“Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy” by Derek Sivers Transcript:
If you’ve learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let’s watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:
A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!
Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.
The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.
A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.
Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!
As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.
And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let’s recap what we learned:
If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.
Be public. Be easy to follow!
But the biggest lesson here – did you catch it?
Leadership is over-glorified.
Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:
It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
There is no movement without the first follower.
We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.