Leadership and followership

For the past 20 years I’ve been the leader: Director of the FOCUS ministry on campus; Senior Pastor of Crossroads Church; making the decisions; setting the vision; recruiting the staff; leading the team; critiquing, evaluating, shaping and encouraging. It’s been my responsibility.

Now things have changed. I’m entering new territory this year. The Senior Pastor has now become the Associate Pastor! Now I report to Marcus – the same Marcus whom I recruited, mentored and employed. To be honest, I like the idea. It’s exciting to be able to change positions. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to serve in this way.

I don’t have the same authority or responsibility that I had in the past. And that’s probably a good thing. I’ll need to be more flexible, less time-constrained, and more careful about what I do and don’t do. Some days I might be highly productive and other days I might be stuck in bed. Things that need to happen every day, week, or month – without fail – probably won’t be the best fit for me. My prayer is that there will be less adrenaline, stress, late nights, and compromised days off in the new regime!

My new job description will take a while to bed down, but we’ve got the big things worked out. I’ll be focusing on ministry training and leadership development across the church, as well as contributing to the preaching program. I’m also planning to write. God-willing, I hope to produce some resources for ministry training, that can be used at Crossroads and more widely. There are also a couple of books I’m keen to have a crack at! But one step at a time!

I’ve begun to work on material and ideas for leadership development. Currently, I’m reading through Malphurs and Mancini’s book, Building Leaders. They remind us that in order to be good leaders, we must first be good followers. In fact, I would say if we can’t follow, then we must not lead. Good leadership is not about getting our own way or the wielding of power over others. It’s about service and giving our lives for the benefit of others.

In response to a power struggle among his followers, Jesus taught these things to them:

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:42-45)

Christian leadership is primarily about influencing people to follow Jesus, and to do this in every area of their lives. Leaders should teach these things, but they also need to model them. This means that leaders must first be followers. It goes with the job description.

The challenge to me as I enter a new form of leadership this year, is to keep working on my ‘followership’. Firstly, as a follower of Jesus Christ, and secondly as a newly positioned member of the pastoral team following the leadership of my Senior Pastor.

7 thoughts on “Leadership and followership”

      1. Excellent. I figured I’d try a simple request first that had something (or, indeed, a lot) to do with your stated plans . . . Church Dogmatics will keep a bit longer.

  1. Looking forward already to reading your first book, Dave! I’m sure it would be a great blessing to many people, just like your blog!

  2. Hey Dave and Fiona, praying for you in this new (ish) stage, know that God will continue His good work in you. with love from the hot and dry north – Grace and Jono.

  3. I have been reflecting lately on the nature of leading as involving a prioritising role in collaborative human activity (such as a church). “Good” leaders make decisions on behalf of others and such decisions necessarily involve prioritising the values, perspectives, opinions of some over those of other members of your group. I would like to hear your ideas on whether good leading should involve deep knowledge of those you want to follow you – knowledge gained by listening and observing in order to appreciate and understand. I observe that many leading-type decisions unreflectively privilege certain voices and mute (or silence) many (usually those that do not align with the natural biases and perspectives of the leader). The unconscious assumption that “what is good for me is what is good for all” is, I think, prevalent among church leaders, especially those who delegate ‘pastoral’ work to church members and dedicate themselves to preaching and teaching and leading. My question to those who lead churches: How can you apply God’s word effectively to me (and those sitting around me) if you do not know me; if the horizon of your imagination is limited to your own thoughts and experiences and those who are quite like you?

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