So you’re a follower, but of whom?

According to a LiveScience article published in November 2011, your propensity to be a leader or a follower is highly genetic. Let’s just say you got the follower gene, how do you make sure you are following the right person or thing?

We’ve all certainly heard the term sheeple, a negative impression describing a people who are either bewitched into following the control of another or who have purposefully given control of themselves to another and are now playing follow the leader, no matter the cost or consequence, requirement or demand.

How can you tell if that’s you, guard yourself against imbalanced control, or allow yourself to be led in a meaningful way?

You know of course this is going to be focused on our walk of faith as Christians, right? The word follow is found in the King James Bible 86 times and is the main theme of Christianity. To follow Christ. In fact, the word Christian has a direct reference to being like Christ, thus we are following by imitation (or should be) our Lord.

Paul hoped the disciples would follow him, even as he followed Christ – in other words, to be like Paul as he strove to imitate Christ.

“Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1, AMP

This is to say, being a follower should not be considered a negative. Certainly, personality studies show the pros and cons of both disorders (ha!) – if you are a leader you tend to be a little bossier than followers, are more driven and result oriented, while followers are more gullible, trusting, likable, yet lack the ambition of a leader.

I’ve even had employees who have told me, “I just want to come to work every day, do what I’m told to do, get the job done and then go home and forget about it all until tomorrow”. That’s the definition of a follower, and as much as we need leaders, we need followers.

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So what should you do if you are a follower?

Pick the right leader! Yes, that’s right, you have to choose who takes your hand and takes you places. Famous sales trainers and motivational speakers have said thousands of times, ‘Who you associate with is a mirror of who you are or will become’. Thus, you must choose, and you must choose wisely.

By nature, I’m a rather ambitious person – a bit bossy, don’t like being slow or waiting for someone else to do it. Yet even I have to follow someone, and it is easy to follow the wrong personality.

Consider this: According to a study/paper published by a Criminal Justice degree program on the subject of Cults, all indicators or danger signs that the organization may be going down the wrong path point to the leader. In other words, the primary indicator of cult-like behavior is that adherents or followers are absolutely controlled by one leader.

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As certain as you’ve heard the term sheeple you may have asked yourself, ‘how could someone be fooled so completely?‘ or ‘how could they allow that person to control them so utterly?‘.

Simple answer? A follower was looking for a leader! So if you are a follower, here are some warning signs to watch for to make sure you get the RIGHT leader! Recently I saw on Facebook a most applicable quote:

“It is easy to be deceived or blinded by even subtle falsehoods, when one is willing to accept “authority” as truth, instead of truth as authority.”

Consider the far extreme example of Jim Jones, leader of the People’s Temple cult. One single individual was able to convince 918 followers to commit suicide on his word. So completely dependent were those people upon another human being they ended their lives for a false promise of salvation, from someone who had no salvation to offer. We must be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

  • A single leader who creates a system of dependency. This is the mark of domination. True leaders train and guide their people and then release them to their own good works. False leaders make you believe your success is wholly dependent upon your connection to them. If ‘going out on your own’ is frowned upon, the leadership is bad.
  • A single leader who commands absolute obedience with the threat of punishment. True leaders know sometimes the best teacher is experience, and he allows you to find your own path and come back for course corrections. If mistakes are seen as failures instead of learning opportunities, you’ve connected with the wrong leader.
  • A single leader that teaches exclusivity – that you must forsake all others (including family) to follow his/her ways. A true leader also knows that he/she will never and could never have all the answers. False leaders condemn listening to and following other leaders for fear of losing dominance over you. True leaders often say “Don’t take my word for it…”. There is wisdom in the counsel of many.

Seeking the right leader may be difficult at times because this type of behavior is almost always subtle and shrouded with intense love, affection or good intentions. Yet – God gave us that sixth sense, intuition and often times when you simply feel something isn’t right, that is your opportunity to step back, examine and check yourself.

As equally at fault is your need for dependence as is a false leader and his/her need for control. As followers, we must recognize our need for influence and pick and choose those influences carefully!

In Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles we find such an amazing leadership quality. One of strength, ambition, purpose, and result driven action – yet a man of humility, who neither demanded wealth or substance from his followers nor expected submission. Paul taught to not judge others but to lower yourself into their betterment. To strengthen God’s cause by leading by example.

“Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” – Romans 14:16-18, KJV

In summary – you need to find a leader who is the best follower. Not one of demands, but of offerings. A man or woman who gives liberally and does not condemn your weakness (James 1:5). A leader who causes others to feel empowered and in charge rather than subservient and fearful of making mistakes.

As for me, my house, and I hope you, we’ve chosen to follow Paul and to imitate him as he imitates Christ!

“Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1, AMP

God Bless!

3 thoughts on “So you’re a follower, but of whom?

      1. Abhijith Padmakumar

        You have an amazing way of conveying messages in a simple manner and I think that’s a rare gift to possess. Please keep blogging and have a happy day ahead 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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