September 8, 2012 in City

We all have room to become better followers

By The Spokesman-Review
 
About this column

Three times a month, three community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The Faith and Values column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg, of Spokane; retired Methodist minister Paul Graves, of Sandpoint; and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

Now that both Democratic and Republican presidential conventions are behind us, a little self-reflection is in order.

Both candidates made a case for how they’ll deliver what we all seem to want: lower taxes, improved public services, enhanced national image and, in short, a better life for all.

They’ve let us know, at least rhetorically, what kind of leaders they’ll be if elected.

Perhaps now we’d do well to consider what kind of followers we will be; might there be room for improvement on our part?

Sadly, far more attention is given to leadership these days than what I sometimes think of as “followship.” Yet most of us are followers in more contexts than we are leaders; and the way we conduct ourselves as followers has great bearing on the success, or failure, of those who lead.

What kind of follower are you?

Good followers are cooperative. They’re not always looking for what is wrong, what doesn’t work, what bothers them, what is imperfect in their leaders.

Those things are easily found; it’s the lowest-hanging fruit.

I really believe Christians ought to be examples to others in this area of cooperating with leaders. God gives us clear instruction in the Scriptures, and gracious enablement, to be cooperative followers of those He has placed as leaders over us.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God,” says Romans 13:1 (New King James Version).

Christians ought to be those who willingly submit themselves – cooperate – with the authorities who rule over them. Yes, our allegiance is to God, not human government, but our relationship with that government is to be one of cooperation whenever morally possible.

When it comes to authority, do you have a cooperative spirit?

Good followers are grateful. I thought of this as I enjoyed an outdoor concert last weekend at Coeur d’Alene’s City Park. That city’s staff does an outstanding job making the park a showpiece in our region, despite its heavy use.

I’m grateful to them; but, to my shame, I’ve never bothered expressing that gratitude. Most leaders hear far more complaints than they do expressions of gratitude. Christians really ought to be those who help balance the scales a bit in the other direction.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,” Ephesians 4:29 (New Living Testament).

You know, our leaders are people not unlike ourselves; they’re motivated to do their best by truthful encouragement more than discontented grumbling. Even constructive criticism can be expressed with grace and tempered with gratitude.

When it comes to local, state and national authorities, have you ever expressed gratitude to them?

Good followers are responsible. It saddens me that we are increasingly a nation of people who look first to government to solve personal problems. Financial duress, medical crises and the fall-out from natural disasters are not always the government’s fault, nor its responsibility to fix.

The Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy suggests that Christians ought to lead the way when it comes to personal responsibility: “… if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” 1 Timothy 5:8 (NKJV).

Do your expectations of government also reflect a willingness to be personally responsible?

One of the greatest helps to any leader is the support of followers. Let’s strive to be cooperative, grateful, responsible followers of those whom God ordains to lead.

America does not merely need better leaders. She also needs better followers.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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