Apr 222013

As part of my internship, I am taking part in a course called ‘Growing Leaders’, which is all about equipping and enabling people to lead, whether that’s in a church context or any other context. It has been a really useful course, and I have certainly grown as a result.

On Saturday, we had a morning at the course entitled ‘Embracing Cost as a Christian Leader’. It was a very good session. Essentially, the message was this: leadership is hard, so expect it to be hard, but God is good and remember to place your identity in Him.

I have some thoughts about this as a leader, which I will probably blog about sometime soon. But I also have some thoughts as a follower, and for all who follow someone.

Leadership aint easy

Why is being a (Christian) leader hard? We discussed many reasons on Saturday. Criticism, loneliness, spiritual attack, hard work, lack of privacy, pressure, wrong expectations, unreasonable people, sacrifice. And many others. Of course some of these are true for people who are not leaders, but a lot of them are heightened once you are in the position of leadership.

The problem is this. Once a group of people get to a certain size, they need to appoint leaders. The idea that ‘we can all lead each other’ doesn’t work. Those leaders then have to lead the people. But those people are people, with their own ideas and thoughts. And everyone has an opinion on the leaders, and on everything the leaders do and say and believe. The leader has taken the huge risk of stepping out to lead a group of people, and then often comes under attack from the people they are leading who ‘wouldn’t do it that way’ or ‘could do it better’ themselves.

It’s tough. It’s a situation (humanly speaking) where you can’t win.

Add to that the inherent pressures of leadership in terms of increased visibility, lots of hard work, the need to split your focus a dozen different ways, costs in relationships and time with loved ones. It isn’t an easy gig. There are of course great blessings and it is a privilege, but it is not easy. It’s why the burnout rate among pastors and church leaders is so high.

Please don’t make it harder

Why have I said all this? Well, the chances are you follow someone. Someone leads you. In fact there are probably loads of people who do. I stopped counting when I got to 10 people who lead me. You may think your leaders are amazing. You may not.

My plea is that we try our very hardest not to make it harder. Maybe in addition to a course on growing as a leader, we need to run courses on how to be good followers. I have never been led by someone and agreed with 100% of the things they say or do. I doubt you have either. I’m certainly not saying we follow people blindly and agree with everything just because they’re our leaders. I’m calling for support, for gratitude that they have undertaken a task that is hard for our sake.

I believe we need to give our leaders our support, love, dedication and submission. Instead of just our moaning, grumbling, judgments and criticism.

For their sake, because they are doing a very hard job. But also for our sake, because we all need people to lead us, and if we constantly exercise negativity toward our leaders, we aren’t going to be able to follow very well.

The people who lead me have taken on a huge burden so I don’t have to bear it. I don’t want to make that burden any heavier than it has to be.

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