Leaders and Followers
Pastor Jack Hyles
Ephesians 5:21-29, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church."
Ephesians 6:1, 4, 5, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ."
Ephesians 5:21 is a startling verse, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." In a church or a family or a business or in any group relationship, each of us at some time is a leader and at some time a follower. Joe may be Bill's Sunday school teacher, but Bill may be the deacon chairman while Joe is a deacon. Joe may be manager of the softball team, while Bill may be Joe's choir director. One of the great necessities of a successful church is that each member realize the area in which he is a leader and the area in which he is a follower and learn to fill each position with grace, propriety and dispatch.
In any organization there are several groups of people, as follows:
1. Followers of leaders. I Corinthians 4: 10, "We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised."
I Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Philippians 3:7, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ."
In any organization this is the mass of the members. One of the great weaknesses rising on the scene in America is that so few people are trained to be followers. There is nothing undignified about being a follower. The follower is as important as the leader. Athletic contests are won by athletes who know how to follow and are trained to do so. America used to win wars when we trained our young men to be followers.
We say we believe in majority rule, and this is right. However, majority rule does not mean majority opinion. Following majority opinion is anarchy Following majority rule is democracy We choose people to lead us and make important decisions for us. An athletic team has a captain who calls the plays. The captain may be chosen by the team, but the captain calls the plays. On a football team, the quarterback calls the plays, or in some cases, the plays are called by the coach. There would be neither time nor proper organization if the team voted in the huddle what play to run. Imagine how long it would take for someone to make a motion that we throw a pass to the right wide receiver, someone else makes a motion that the fullback carries the ball through the center of the line, someone else makes a motion for a quick kick, and the quarterback asks then if there is any discussion! Each member of the team is allowed to discuss the motion. Then the quarterback calls for a vote, and the majority opinion decides on the play. A long time before the decision was made, the team would have been penalized for delay of game. You can't run a team that way; you can't run a nation that way, and you can't run a church that way (though this seems to be the way the Congress wants to run our foreign policy).
Once the leader is chosen, then the followers follow him. This does not mean that the leader is stronger than the follower; it simply means that in this particular area, he would have more ability to make the fight decisions. Of course, the wise leader will often seek the advice and counsel of followers before making his decision, but the decision should be his. The follower should be loyal to that decision. This is the way wars are won, championships are won, and souls are won! Let the church choose a choir director and let him make the decisions for the choir. Don't saddle him with a music committee to nip at his heels. Let the choir follow.
Let the youth director make the decisions about the youth program. Choose one and follow him. Don't saddle him with a youth committee as an albatross around his neck.
In some churches it takes seven days for a committee of five to decide what kind and color of flowers to put on the communion table on Sunday. Let someone be chosen to be in charge of the flowers and send the committee out soul winning! If a business were run like the average church, it would go bankrupt. If a nation were run like the average church, it would go under. (In some ways it seems like our nation is run almost that way now.)
Choose a bus director and let that bus director make the decisions concerning the bus ministry. Do not appoint a bus committee to hinder the progress. Democracy is not voting on every issue but choosing our leaders and letting them lead. Of course, there are times for the need of a public referendum, but these are rare occasions and for special purposes.
A church should choose a pastor, vote him in democratically and then let him be the pastor. Do not appoint a committee to approve who fills the pulpit in his absence. Let the pastor choose. Do not have a board or a committee to approve his speaking engagements outside the church and to approve whatever advisory boards he sits on outside the church. Choose the pastor and let him be the pastor.
There are three words in the Bible all of which deal with the same office, pastor, elder and bishop. The title of pastor means that God's man should be careful to protect his people from false doctrine and heresy, as the shepherd protected his sheep from serpents and wild beasts and as he fed them. The title of elder signifies experience and wisdom as the pastor guides his people with the decisions of life. The title of bishop means overseer. A pastor is chosen democratically by the people, not to lead the church by majority opinion, but by wise leadership after having been chosen by majority vote.
Let no one mistake this for the pastor borrowing money for the church or building a building without a church vote, but the people should follow pastoral leadership. He is trained for the job and has been democratically voted to the job.
Years ago a deacon in a certain church informed me that the deacons of the church were not pleased with my preaching and asked if a meeting could be held to discuss my preaching. I agreed to such a meeting. The time was set for Monday night at 7:00 in one of the Sunday school rooms at the church. About 10:00 that night the deacon called me and asked me where I was. I said, "I'm at home."
He said, "Why didn't you come to the meeting?"
I said, "What meeting?"
He said, "You told me we could have a meeting to discuss your preaching," and I said, "You can. You can have a meeting every night if you want to discuss my preaching, but I won't be there. That's between me and God, not between me and the deacon board."
Years ago a deacon said to me, "Pastor, concerning your preaching . . . ."
I said, "Hold it. When we build a building, you get one vote. When we borrow money, you get one vote, but when I walk in the pulpit, you don't get no vote! Two and two is four; the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; the pope is a Catholic; and my preaching is between me and God."
This group that we call followers of leaders is only such in one particular phase of the work, but each organization needs people who love to follow and who are self confident enough to yield, who are loyal and faithful.
The wise follower loves strength. He will be happy to follow strength and would be wise to study the leader to find the qualities he possesses in order for him to know those qualities if he is chosen someday to lead in some endeavor.
2. Leaders of followers. This is the second group.
1) These people come from good followers. No one will I make a good leader unless he has first been a follower. He must know the heartbeat of the follower. He must have compassion and empathy toward the follower.
2) He does not want power; he just wants to get things done. He has no desire to lead or to have people subservient to him. He is lost in the necessity to accomplish a task. He realizes that he has been chosen to a place of leadership that will require him to lead in this task.
3) He doesn't feel above the followers. He feels that the position of leadership is not a position that is exalted above that of the follower. He realizes that somebody has to lead, and he has been chosen to do so. Perhaps another could have been chosen who could have done the job as well as he, but he realizes that he has been chosen for the job, so he accepts the responsibility, realizing that the followers are his equals, not his inferiors.
4) He does not seek leadership. This is one of the weaknesses of our system. Leadership is sought. The husband reminds his wife of Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord," and oftentimes that is his only right to be the leader. To be sure, the wife should obey because the Bible says to, but far be it from me to believe that a weak man should take that Scripture and use it as a club! He should become strong and earn his wife's followship, convincing her that he is capable of leading. Now don't misunderstand me. She should follow whether he is capable or not. The Bible gives her that command, but at no place in the Bible does it say, "Husbands, command your wives. Husbands, boss your wives. Husbands, dictate to your wives." Why couldn't a husband be the kind of man that his wife would want to follow! What a delightful buffer this would give as Ephesians 5:22 is carried out!
There is nothing more disgusting than for some little milquetoast to say in an effeminate way, "Matilda, you are supposed to obey me; the Bible says you are!"
Yes, Matilda, you should obey little milquetoast, but there is nothing in the Bible that says you have to enjoy it, and there is nothing in the Bible that says he deserves it!
There are few things more disgusting than for some little effeminate, papa called, mama fed, seminary bred preacher to open the Bible to Hebrews 13:7 and 17 and remind his people that they are supposed to follow him. Hebrews 13:7, 17, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." Now, it is true that they are supposed to follow, and the argument that I am presenting now gives no member a right to rebel against his pastor, but it is far better when God's man works to become capable of leadership! Through loving his people, working for their benefit, serving them, caring for them and ministering to them, he convinces them that he is capable of being their leader. They, in turn, follow him because they believe he is capable. Oh, yes, the letter of the law says that they are supposed to obey him, but how much more beautiful it is when God's man loves his people and does not want to be a dictator and has no desire to rule them. He simply realizes that he has been chosen as their leader and feels that he is capable of doing it with God's help. He goes about doing his duty of leading them; and they, believing that he can lead them, follow him.
5) He delivers followers to other leaders. For example, if a man leads the church choir, he is a leader of followers, but he also has a pastor whom he is to follow. He is to lead the church choir to follow the pastor. If a man is the principal of a school which is operated by a church, he should increase the loyalty of those whom he leads to the pastor whom he follows. The wise and capable leader will realize that there are leaders above him, and he should present his followers as the most loyal followers of his leaders.
One of the sad things in our system is that so many of our national leaders have never led anything. So many of our congressmen graduated from college with a law degree or some other degree that put them in a position in business where they built nothing. They run for office on the basis of their charisma, charm and smile and are then elected as leaders. These are not officers who are commissioned on the battlefield because they have proven themselves as leaders, but rather chosen by a popular vote. These men sit in the halls of Congress, but they have never led a corporation; they have never built a business; they have never built a church; they simply went to a liberal university, kissed a few babies, shook several thousand hands, made a few television commercials and then assumed a place of leadership without ever having been a leader.
On the other hand, the President appoints his staff and his cabinet. He chooses men for his staff and cabinet who have been successful as leaders in America. He chooses men who have headed great corporations, men who have headed great armies, or men who have built empires. On one side you have the President's staff, chosen from the field of leadership, business and success. On the other side you have a Congress where many of its members have never built or led at all. We have seen in our generation how easy it is for the President's staff and cabinet to become impatient with the other side. The followers are leading leaders; novices are placed over successful men. Sometimes these men who have led in great corporations step over the line and make some mistakes. They immediately are investigated by the weaker ones who assert their right to leadership because the Constitution and the laws give it to them. They are right, but they are also weak. The temptation to do wrong was partially or maybe totally caused by their ineptness, and so they (like the husband who takes Ephesians 5:22 and waves it in front of his wife and the pastor who takes Hebrews 13:7 and 17 and waves it before his people) take the Constitution and wave it before the successful men who have crossed over a line because of their impatience in waiting for the inept ones to do something! Then a committee is formed so there can be a hearing where followship can interrogate leadership, where failure can interrogate success, and where weakness can interrogate strength!
It is not hard to understand why a strong man who is a leader steps across the line in an effort to do something to defend America from Communism, when the often inept and weak people sit on their hands while Communism invades our hemisphere.
We have seen in our day how colonels and admirals who have been trained at West Point and Annapolis and who have been taught how to be followers and how to be leaders are quizzed, disciplined and censored by men who were trained in liberal, undisciplined state universities and have been spawned by the permissive society and the situation ethics of our generation. While these weak men in strong positions point the finger of accusation at impatient and perhaps even erring strong men, somebody should point the finger at these men whose "donothingness" left the vacuum that was filled by the strong men who got out of bounds. Many of these men who have gotten out of bounds in their over-zealousness to keep America free, have been pushed out of bounds or pulled out of bounds because no one in bounds was doing anything! I am not condoning lawbreaking, nor am I condoning those who entice law-breaking. There are laws in our country against rioting. There are also laws in our country against those who incite a riot. There are laws in our country against certain crimes, and there are also laws against those who aid those crimes and incite those crimes. I contend that the people who are letting Communism take over America while they preach their doctrine of disarmament and pacifism from college desks, senate seats, congressional rostrums and even pulpits are just as guilty as the patriots who are excessive in their defense of America. I am not acquitting anyone; I am simply indicting some others!
3. Leaders of leaders. Deuteronomy 10:17, "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." I Timothy 6:15, "Which in His times He shall shew, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords."
It is very interesting that Jesus is called King of kings and Lord of lords. Not only is He a King of subjects, but He is King over kings. Not only is He a Lord over followers, but He is Lord over lords. There are some people who have been chosen by leaders to be their leaders. Pastors who lead churches have men to whom they look for leadership. Men who lead corporations have men to whom they look for leadership.
Here is where many churches stop growing. The pastor is a leader of followers, and he takes the church as far as one leader can take a church. Here is the place where he must become a leader of leaders. He must choose men under him to lead different departments of the church. He must delegate to them responsibility and some authority. He must learn to share with these leaders his people and a part of his domain. Of course, these leaders whom he leads should be fanatically loyal to the pastor and should not steal any of the love that the people have for the pastor. When a church reaches a certain size, its continued growth numerically will depend upon the ability of the pastor to become a leader of leaders. This is not easy. Some of the nice things the people have done for the pastor, they will now do for the other leaders. The pastor will have to share the banana puddings, the pecan pies and the pineapple upside down cakes with those who work as his followers and as leaders of a portion of his people.
1) This position should not be sought. All true leadership should come from one who is so busy helping followers that they will want him to be the leader. This is true with the leader of leaders. He should be chosen by the leaders. This does not mean that he will be elected; it means that he just unknowingly becomes the kind of person to whom leaders look. The position is not sought; it just happens, or in some cases of organizational structure, he is chosen without his applying for the position.
Twenty-five years ago a man came to the First Baptist Church of Hammond and told me that he was a pastor and that he had heard of our church and wanted to learn something about the ministry of our church. We put him in a guest room, kept him for the entire week and let each staff member talk to him for one hour. His ministry was transformed. He went back to his church in the western part of our nation, and his church was transformed. He told a friend what had happened to him. The friend contacted me and asked if he could come and spend a week learning from our staff members concerning our work. We allowed him to do so. He had a friend, and he came. He had a friend who came, and he had a friend who came, until we were spending far too much time individually with pastors each coming to spend a week. I got with the staff and we decided we would have one week and announce it so that all who wanted to come could come. It was to be a one-time situation. We simply got word around the country that any pastor who wanted to come and spend a week and spend an hour with each of our staff members could do so, but it would all happen at the same time. To our total shock, 167 pastors from 19 states came. When that week was over we never intended to do it again. Then requests came from all over America concerning a repeat. Other pastors wanted to spend the same week, so we did it the second year. For twenty-five consecutive years we have had what we call our nationwide Pastors' School, where pastors and Christian workers come from all over America and from around the world. Five to six thousand come each year to spend a week of training. (Last year over 6,000 came from 48 states and 19 foreign countries.) We start on Monday night, have sessions all day Tuesday and Tuesday night, all day Wednesday and Wednesday night, all day Thursday and Thursday night, and most of Friday.
Now I did not sit in my office one day and say, "I would like to become a leader of leaders, and I've got to figure out some way where I can have leaders to come here so I can be their leader." It never works that way! The position of becoming a leader of leaders just happens.
The truth is, I don't enjoy being an administrator or an executive. I was reared a poor boy and had no intention at all of ever being any kind of an executive. In fact, I didn't like that word. I was pastoring the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. We had about 300 in attendance, and I was doing everything! I was leading the choir, printing the church bulletin, turning on the lights and the heat, typing letters to the visitors and new members, mimeographing the Sunday school outline for the teachers and officers in addition to my pastoral duties. I hired a secretary, and I had a hard time relinquishing the things I was doing. This little secretary's name was Jo Strickland. She did me a favor, for which I could never adequately repay her. One day this little short gal said to me, "Pastor, I have been a secretary for an insurance executive, and you need to learn how to delegate responsibility and be an executive." I told her I didn't even like the word. I wasn't a big shot, and I didn't want to become one! She looked at me and very sincerely said, "Pastor, I believe you could be a great preacher someday, but you are going to limit yourself if you don't learn to delegate responsibility. You will never be able to build a big church unless you can administrate." (What she was saying was it was time for me to become a leader of leaders!) She looked up at me and said, "Say this to me: 'I am an executive!'"
I don't know why I did, but I said it.
She said, "Say it over ten times," and to my shock I did it. Every morning when I came to work, she met me at the door and required me to look down at her and say that phrase ten times: "I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive!" What she was doing was helping me to become a leader of leaders. This was a pivotal time in my ministry. Every leader reaches the place on the ladder of success where he can no longer continue to prosper or grow by just being a leader of followers. He must become a leader of leaders.
2) The leader of leaders must learn to delegate. This is hard for a zealous leader to do. Something that has helped me tremendously is the awareness that if I have ten men who work for me, and if I think I can do the job that each is doing better than he is doing it, I still can get more done by letting him do his own job. Let's suppose I have ten men working for me, and that each of those ten men can only do his job 90% as effectively as I could do it. (Of course, this is not always the case. Some of the men who work for me can do their jobs far better than I could do them.) However, it dawned on me one day that I would get more done by letting these men do their jobs, even though they could do them only 90% as well as I could. It is simply a matter of mathematics. I cannot do all the jobs, so I would rather have 10 men working at 90% efficiency than one man working at 100% efficiency It is a mathematical fact of 900 to 100, so the leader of leaders must learn to delegate!
3) The leader of leaders must learn to share glory. He must honor the leaders whom he leads. He must exalt them in the minds of the followers.
Let me stop to say this: The leaders who are led by the leader of leaders should not demand this kind of treatment. This is an exhortation to the leader of leaders to share the glory; it is not an exhortation or a license given to the leaders who follow the leader of leaders to demand such glory. God would not honor this kind of a spirit. However, the wise leader of leaders will give credit where credit is due, honor where honor is due and will exalt in the presence of the followers those leaders whom he leads.
4) The leader of leaders must learn to share the spoils with the leaders who follow him.
The first time I ever had a leader under me was in the early 1950's. His name was Bob Keyes. Until that time, I had gotten all the cakes, pies, turnip greens, green beans and other nice things that people give to and do for the pastor. The first week that Bob Keyes worked for me, I went by his house. He and his family were eating a meal of freshly cooked vegetables. I walked in, smelled the meal, coveted the vegetables and told them it sure smelled good and looked good.
Bob said, "Yes, these are fresh out of the garden."
That green eyed monster came inside my heart and I said, "You don't have a garden! Whose garden?"
He said, "Well, some members of the church brought these by to us today," and I said to myself, "They didn't bring me any!" I was learning that I must share with my followers the leader whom I was leading.
Evangelist Jim Lyons at one time was my associate pastor. One cold winter day I was backing out of my driveway (it is a curved driveway), and I got off of the drive into a snowbank. I tried to get out and couldn't. I gunned the engine, went forward a bit, backward a bit, forward a bit, backward a bit, and then I smelled something! I knew what I had done. I had burned up the transmission. There I was, sitting in a snowbank with no transmission, realizing that it would cost me hundreds of dollars to have it fixed or replaced, when suddenly Jim Lyons and his wife drove up in front of our house. He shouted, "Preacher, are you having trouble?"
I replied something like this, "No, Jim. I just come out here every day and try to find a snowbank where I can put my car and bum up my transmission!"
Jim said, "Well, why don't you get some snow tires?"
I said, "I don't have any money to buy snow tires. Do you have snow tires?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Where did you get them?"
He said, "The Cliftons gave them to me."
Oh boy, that green eyed monster came to me again! I was learning again that in order to have leaders whom I lead, I must share with them the spoils from the followers.
5) The leader of leaders must oftentimes accept being misunderstood. His life is a lonely life. The people to whom he was once close are now led on a personal basis by other leaders whom he leads. He will be misunderstood. This goes back to what President Harry Truman said, "If you can't stand the heat, don't get in the kitchen." A part of the heat of being a leader of leaders is sharing the glory and the spoils with the leaders whom the leader leads.
6) The leader of leaders must oftentimes give up closeness that he would like to have. I would like to be as close to our young people as our youth director is, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to our senior citizens as the director of our senior citizens ministry is, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to those in the hospital as my associate pastor John Colsten is, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to the football team at Hammond Baptist High School as the coach is, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to the school teachers as the principals are, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to the bus workers as the bus directors are, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like to be as close to the college students at Hyles-Anderson College as the teachers are, but I cannot. The church is too big. This is a price to pay, but it is well worth it in order to reach more people. This means the leader of leaders must walk with God in a closer way than do his followers and leaders whom he leads.
When the Israelites came into the promised land, God divided the land and gave a portion to 11 of the 12 tribes. The tribe of Levi received no such portion of land. They asked God what their portion would be. He replied, "I am your portion." This is true in a church concerning a pastor who has become a leader of leaders.
7) The leader of leaders must be willing to be second or third in the minds of some of the people. I have a large staff. There are many men who work for me. I often tell my congregation that I do not expect them to put me first on their love list; just put me somewhere on the list. In the minds of some I will be number one; in the minds of others I will be number two or number three, number four, number five. That doesn't matter, as long as I am on the list. I simply ask them to love me; not to love me first or love me most. There are some people in my church who love Brother John Colsten more than they love me. That's all right as long as they love me. There are some who love Brother Roy Moffitt more than they love me. There are some who love Brother Elmer Fernandez more than they love me. There are some who have more love for other members of the staff such as Bob Auclair, Eddie Lapina, Keith McKinney, Bill Schutt, Ray Young, Wendell Evans, Mike Sisson, Greg Weber, Tom Vogel, etc. I want some people to put each of these men first (though the loyal man will not seek such love for himself).
Leaders are reading this chapter. Do not seek to be a leader of leaders in non organizational areas. Some doctors simply are highly respected and regarded by other doctors and become leaders of leaders. Some lawyers just happen to rise to a place of similar respectability. The same is true with preachers, and with leaders in every other field.
However, in an organizational structure such as a church, the wise pastor will have people who follow him, but who lead segments of the congregation in various ministries. The work of the church can be multiplied many times if such a relationship can be one of grace, love, admiration and acceptance.
4. A follower of followers. Matthew 15:14, "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." In every church, and for that matter, in every organization, there are people who do not follow the designated leadership. Some of these people perhaps are jealous of strength because they are almost always weak themselves. These people may be those who wanted to lead and failed, and so they do not like to follow leadership. These are people who are critics of leaders. They usually hate strong people, or at least, they do not like them. They are often one issue people and have one doctrine that they advocate, one project that they promote, or one conviction that they advocate above others. These are they who often have tried to lead and failed, and so they pick away at leadership. No matter what organization they are in, they do not follow. If they are choir members, they do not cooperate with the choir director. They do not come to choir practice, and if they do, they try to aggravate the choir director. If they are bus captains, they will not cooperate in the bus meetings, either by causing a problem when they are there or by not attending the meetings at all (which is a blessing to the director!).
The tragic thing is the fact that there are many who follow these followers. They preach their sermons from restaurant tables as they promote their opposition to the chosen leadership. They are followers of followers. How tragic this is! These followers are often lovely people who are misled by those whose only ability to lead is to lead someone against the leader. Their only achievement is to criticize achievers, and their only success is to lead others in opposition to the successful. These followers usually are lovely people who are misled by a warm personality of a follower who wants to lead and can lead only those whom he can get disgruntled.
Let God's people beware of followers whose only leadership is that of rebellion, criticism and division.
All over America churches have been split by these followers who lead followers, and so many of these followers who follow followers have gone with them to start other churches, and all over America there are little groups of people who are living in failure because they have followed a follower instead of a leader. Many young people have lost confidence in leadership because of these misguided souls. Thank God for those who are followers, but let all followers be careful to follow those who are leaders and not those whose only accomplishment is to fight leadership and to gather around themselves a few followers who became disgruntled and usually, sad to say, come to naught.
5. Followers of leaders of leaders. This is that type of Christian who wants to follow the famous name. He will support financially a leader of leaders, perhaps through some kind of nationwide ministry, but he is not willing to follow and support his own leader, the faithful pastor of his own church. He is enchanted by a personality, infected with hero worship, and will often drive hundreds of miles to hear a famous name but is seldom interested in supporting the leader nearest him. It is also true that if this follower of a leader of leaders were to become acquainted on a day-to-day basis with his hero, he would probably become disenchanted. He can follow only at a distance and not up close.
One of these such followers of the leader of leaders came to me when I was preaching in a distant state. He told me that he certainly was pleased to hear me and that he wished that they had a seasoned pastor at their church instead of the young man that God had given them. He was much chagrined because his young pastor made foolish mistakes. He tried to build himself in my estimation (and failed) by telling me that he wished he had a pastor like me that would not be susceptible to mistakes of youth.
The next night when I stood to speak, I told of this man's statement to me (though I did not imply at all or even give a hint as to the man's name). I then proceeded to tell the audience of a mistake that I had made just a few years before, after I had been in Hammond for about 20 years. Our church is a downtown church. We have purchased many buildings in the downtown area of Hammond. We bought a department store building, a drug store, a restaurant, four furniture companies, a lodge building, four small stores, a cleaners, a barber shop, a beauty shop and several apartment buildings.
On this particular occasion we had purchased a three story building behind our auditorium. One night at deacons' meeting a motion was made and seconded that we tear down the building and use it for parking. One deacon included in his motion that we appoint a committee to have the building torn down. I immediately suggested that it was foolish to appoint a committee; I could take care of it. All I had to do was simply call the demolition company and tell them to tear the building down. The deacons agreed to do so.
I did call the demolition company, but I failed to give them proper instructions! They did tear the building down that we had purchased. They also tore down the three-story building next door that we did not own. Boy, was I ever shocked and surprised to find that we had torn down a building that we did not own! How would you like to come to work some morning and find your building gone, especially if you were the owner of the building! I called a meeting of my deacons for Saturday night. They did not know what had happened. I immediately started the meeting by saying, "Fellows, did you ever hear of the Scripture that says, 'If a man asks you to go a mile, go with him two'? Well, I had the building torn down just as you requested, but I also tore the one down next door." I told them that I would not blame them if they asked the church to fire me.
One deacon kiddingly said, "Well, we don't pay much; we don't expect much!"
I kiddingly replied, "One more crack out of you, and your house comes down tonight!"
A deacon across the room shouted to him in jest, "Don't worry, he'll get the one next door instead!"
One deacon stood and said, "You've been my pastor for all these years, and I love you and am going to follow you regardless. As far as I'm concerned you can tear down the whole city of Hammond, and you are still my preacher."
I then began to think of other buildings that could come down! How about the adult bookstore? How about the movie houses and the liberal churches? (Of course, this was all in humor.)
One by one our deacons stood to tell me of their love and loyalty What could have been serious trouble turned into a little revival meeting.
I told this story to the people where I was preaching and reminded them that leaders of leaders make foolish mistakes and errors just like leaders do and that older more seasoned preachers are prone to mistakes also.
What I am saying is this: The member of the church should follow the pastor, his own pastor. The pastor may not be as glamorous as some nationally known figure, but he is God's man for that place, and he should be followed. Yes, we ought to love the leaders of leaders, but we also ought to love, appreciate and follow that one that God has given us to lead us on a local scale.
Are you a follower of leaders? Then be a faithful, loyal one. Are you a leader of followers? Then be a considerate, compassionate one. Are you a leader of leaders? Then be an unselfish, sharing one. Are you a follower of followers? Then turn from following discontents and disgruntles, and follow God's chosen leader. Are you a follower of leaders of leaders? Then add to that your followship of your own leader. May God make us to be in any capacity what He would have us be.
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