Leading by Example

Following Well: 3 Secrets Great Leaders Know

While leadership sounds appealing, many consider following to be subservient. “I’ll never be a follower” is a statement we often hear. In the course Follower Skills, Danette High states, “We will spend far more of our lives following than leading. Following is not a place to let your guard down, or to take a break from leadership.”

Great leaders understand the vital and dynamic relationship that must exist between leaders and followers. They also know when to lead and when to follow. These leaders remain excellent followers. Danette compares following and leading to a couple dancing. “Both have their own moves, but if the leader and follower truly partner, that’s where the beauty occurs.”

Since developing follower skills is practically non-existent in leadership training, many leaders have no idea how to do so. There are at least three secrets that great leaders know about following well.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Leading Students with WMU in Mind

As you lead your student group, I’ll bet the last thing on your mind is the list of WMU objectives. Before you flip past it in your next WMU Catalog or Year Book, take some time to think through each one. You might be surprised how integral these points are to our shared faith.

Pray for Missions

When was the last time you led your group to pray for a missionary? What about praying for someone you knew needed to feel the love of Christ? Praying for missions is no small thing. When you bring these prayers and petitions before God, it solidifies them in your own heart and often motivates you to action.

Engage in Mission Action and Witnessing

As followers of Christ, our faith must move us to action. It’s never enough to simply “feel” for someone who needs Christ. Share that love with them, my friend! And help your students see that they too are a valuable part of the mission of God.

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