"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
— 1 Corinthians 11:1
The world is focused on leadership. You can find training classes for leaders, books on leadership, entire web sites devoted to essays on and analysis of leadership teachniques. A quick search on Google for "leadership" turns up around 187 million results.
A similar search on Google for "followship" turns up less than 30,000 pages.
In everyday life, it is far to easy for the concerns of the world to leak into the life of the believer. If everyone around us says that leadership is important, and if our own experience is that leadership is important... well, then, studying leadership must be an important subject, right? When we fall into this way of thinking, we forget that God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and that man often sees things very differently from the way God sees things (1 Samuel 16:7, Matthew 20:16).
God has made it very clear that followship, not leadership, is vitally important in the life of every believer. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to His heavely Father and said, "...nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." We call ourselves followers of Christ (1 Peter 2:21), and yet, as a group, we spend more time and effort trying to find or create leaders than we do trying to teach people how to be followers.
"Sure," you might be thinking. "We spend that time worrying about leadership, because leadership is hard! Anybody can be a follower." The reverse is certainly true as well, though. Anybody can be a leader. The focus on leadership is not to teach someone how to lead, but to teach them how to lead effectively.
Similarly, if we want people to be effective followers, we need to take the time and effort to teach them about what that means. Even more importantly, since all Christian leaders, by definition, must be followers of Christ, you can see that a believer must be an effective follower before they can be made into an effective leader.
I'm going to spend the next few blog posts examining what it means to be a follower of Christ. Before I get into that, though, let's look at what it means to be a good follower in general. Later on, we'll take these principles, and see what the Bible has to say specifically about those aspects of following Christ.