All great leaders begin as terrific followers.
Following is where we learn patience, grace and compassion. It’s where we learn to hold our tongue and listen, where we learn which hills are worth dying on and which are not. Following teaches us to submit our will to someone who is ultimately wiser and more gifted than we are.
Without first learning to serve and follow, we will never be able to lead with empathy and understanding. There’s a great chance that we’ll begin to lead with arrogance instead of gentleness. And we ultimately risk gaining the reputation of a bully rather than a teacher.
But following takes time. Surrendering our agenda to someone else’s seems like a waste of time, doesn’t it? I mean, if God has called us to lead, then we better start leading, right? There’s this nagging voice in the back of our heads that’s telling us, “Go for it! Take the reigns! You’re better than this! No one appreciates what you can do!”
It’s so tempting to step outside of our current reality of following and force the future we can imagine. It would be so easy.
And so wrong. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that “there is a time for everything…” There’s a time to lead and a time to follow. A time to learn and a time to teach. A time to set the pace and a time to pull the load.
God has positioned you right where you are…and maybe that means you’re following when you want to be leading. You could step outside where God has you and make your own path but you would be pushing Him out and replacing His plan with your own.
If you’re in a season of following, resist the urge to climb the ladder on your own. Be a terrific follower who is wholly committed to the cause and surrender yourself to God’s timing. Learn, grow and prepare. Because God is going to call your number. When it fits His will, not yours.