As CEOs of our own lives are we learning the character to both lead and follow?


CEO model -right or wrong? Team model -right or wrong? Senior pastor - right or wrong? Pope or all popes - right or wrong? Seems to me that there is a lot of thinking going on about leadership in the church and in my sphere of reading/blogs/conversations a lot of thinking in emergent church conversations about how leadership may need to change in order to influence/inspire post-modern people. For me i have had good/bad experiences in a variety of different models and when it comes down to it it seems to have more resonance with the character of leader/followership that i have exhibited/experienced more than the model itself.


I used to walk past this picture [click on it to enlarge] hanging in the channel 4 building in London wth its poignant message - we will not follow we will not lead- having a new route to work I am not sure if it still there but it asks for me a pertinent Q that i want to explore in this post: how much of both those statements is true of me - and how often are both true at the same time in a conflicting sense of apathy/paralysis?

I will not follow...

Here's some reasons why this is true of me at times...

• i'm right and everyone else is wrong [to some degree, blind following the blind, who is more foolish the fool or the fool who follows him] etc; • i'm arrogant/prideful - i want to be a leader, i want people following me, i want to set the agenda; • i don't trust/fearful - i will be hurt, used, exploited, disappointed; misled; • i can't be bothered - to busy, to self centred, to many other things I want to do/be; • i'm stubborn/not easily teachable and refuse to be led; and • i'm not inspired - it doesn't catch me, hold me, i get tired and bored

I will not lead...

Here's some reasons why this is true of me at times...

• i get hurt - people are unkind, ungrateful and blame me; • i get tired - it's exhausting looking out for other people; • i get wrongly interpreted/blamed - people want me to fit into their box or meet their need and so hear what they want; • i get treated like a servant - which makes servant leadership a lot less glamorous than it sounds; • i get no credit - when something goes well i get a buzz but that quickly fades in the face of the next project/person/problem; • i get frustrated - it's like herding cats, people do their own thing anyway; and • i get disillusioned - a lot of the time its seeing the worst in people

Character not systems

I think so many of these points above are related to my character, often to do with my self interest/fulfilment and my desire to live a life which avoids as many hassles as possible - leading or following seems to be a path that takes me into contact with messed up people like myself and exposes a myriad of character flaws that i'd rather keep hidden.

I used to think that it was because i hadn't found the perfect system, hit that formula, read that book, implement the next big leadership buzz phrase and ta dah! all leadership or even following would be easy. I'm not saying that learning leadership skills/techniques is not useful, i think its essential but to advocate one model over another will make no difference if me as a leader or as a follower is all smucked up!

The bible seems to paint a story of God in a relationship with a whole lot of leaders who lead in a whole lot of different ways - was it the model they practised that was God ordained or was it the way they led, how the depended on God, how they struggles with their own insecurities and issues that God really cared about? Or both?

Take the CEO model as a recent example - either the one where the E stands for 'executive' as in some one who is ultimately in charge or 'entertainment' where the leader is there to please all the people and keep them happy [or everyone is leader and makes decisions, can vote for the leader etc]. When i hear critiques of either of these models its usually along the lines of character, e.g.:

• people are selfish and vote for their colour carpet choice rather than the practical hard wearing one - result no carpet; • the CEO pastor is a power hungry control freak who insists on doing everything his way...

Ok maybe I exaggerate slightly but what if there is no perfect model? What if whatever structures we use there are gonna be issues arising because of my dichotomy of not leading/following - after all even leaders are followers of other leaders -whether its thought leaders, or their physical boss?

What if i start saying to myself ok the problem is me not the system and the solution is found in working with God on the ragged edges of my character failings that are exposed by leading/following where I am with the people around me in this community?

What do you think?

Here are some Qs that are buzzing in my head that i'd love to hear your thoughts/feelings about [all or just the ones that grab you]...

• how far do you find yourself struggling with the follow/leading thang [any on my list match yours or are different]? • do you find one easier than the other, if so which and why? • what do you think about my thoughts on character vs systems - what does that mean for you personally? Do you think that systems can change to actually help this character process - got some personal experience you can share? • what makes a good leader/follower - what characteristics/values? • anything else you think/feel...


Paul Mayers