This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Stan Ward. He has already written one post for this blog on followership. Here is another, with some great simple points about following.
There are some things even Jesus won’t forgive.
Seriously. Take a moment to read Mark 3:22-30. This passage contains a concept both frequently debated and generally misunderstood: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. My personal take on the story: the Pharisees don’t recognize good leadership (and that is why they attribute Jesus’ power to Beelzebub instead of God). Their worldview was so corrupt that they confused good with evil (see a warning about this in Isaiah 5:20). And as we know from elsewhere in the gospels, the Pharisees not only confused Jesus’ power source, they also actively resisted him.
There is an important lesson here for followers. Bad followership includes resisting good leadership. Barbara Kellerman’s book Followership makes this same point: bad followers resist good leaders.
And there is another lesson here: sometimes good leadership is hard to recognize.
Let me take a risk and suggest the Pharisees weren’t purposefully evil, but rather they became so blinded by their preferences and assumptions that they missed the opportunity to support one of the world’s greatest leaders.
So how do we recognize good leadership? Consider a few points.
- Good leaders always support the organization’s purpose.
- Good leaders value people, and often publicly recognize follower’s contributions.
- Good leaders have a vision for the organization.
- Good leaders make personal sacrifices for the sake of the organization.
- Good leaders pursue justice.*
If your leader is doing the above and you disagree with that leader about something, realize you simply disagree. Your leader is not necessarily “bad,” and your leader still deserves your support, even when you disagree. To be a good follower, your organization’s purpose must take privilege over your personal preferences.
So what if you disagree with the organization’s purpose, or you don’t find that purpose motivating enough for overcome your personal preferences? I don’t think you have a sin issue, but I do think you need to find another organization.
- Start pursuing your organization’s purpose
- You will find it easier to stop resisting good leadership.
- Then continue to look for how your leaders exhibit good leadership.
- When leaders demonstrate good leadership, publicly praise them for doing so.
* “Pursuing justice” means leaders act ethically and follow civil laws, with the rare exception that those laws are unjust. But even then, leaders are willing to pay the price for violating unjust laws. A few examples of such leaders include Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonheoffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author’s Bio: Stan Ward serves as Biblical Worldview Director at The Brook Hill School in Bullard, TX (www.Brookhill.org). He is also a writer, conference speaker, napkin theologian, and leadership consultant. To see some of his other projects, be sure to check out his webpage, www.stanleyjward.com.