Dec 21, 2011

Should We Be Leading or Following?

In his new book I Am a FollowerLeonard Sweet poses this question with a fairly obvious answer. Early on Sweet argues that we have bought into the myth that to be effective in ministry we need to be leaders. He believes that we should not be trying to be leaders, instead we need to work on being the best followers that we can. In last few decades, the emphasis in ministry is been on how you can be a better leader and how being a better leader will make your ministry better. Sweet, however, thinks that we need to work on being better followers. The life that Jesus called us to was a life of "followership" not a life of leadership. There is only one leader for Christians, that leader is Jesus. We should not be leaders leading Christians, we are followers following Christ and helping other follow him, too.

Sweet breaks down his book by structuring it around Jesus' statement that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. At first, I thought that Sweet was stretching Jesus' words to make this argument, but the more I read the more it made sense to me. You could break down Sweet's basic argument like this: Jesus' followers are called to be just like Jesus. Jesus says that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Therefore, Jesus' followers should be like Jesus pointing to him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We cannot be those things, but we should be living in such a way that we fully embrace and live out the fact that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The book is divided into 4 parts: Introduction, Way, Truth, and Life. In each portion Sweet explains how a Christians needs to be a follower of Christ and not a Leader of people.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to anyone who holds a role of leadership in the church. My one warning is this: Sweet seems to overstate things in the beginning that make you question where his is going. Then a few paragraphs or pages later he rationalizes what he says. So while he argues against leadership, I don't think that he would say there are no "leaders" in the church. There are people who fill the role of leader in the church, but they need to fill it as a fellow humble follower and not as a extremely well-qualified and potentially prideful leader. Read this book, let it challenge you. There are some places that I disagreed with a little, but overall I found that this  book that challenges me not to try to make myself better, but instead to make myself more like Jesus.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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