A lot of folks figure that if you are a follower of Christ and lead people that you are a Christian leader. That’s trite. Too simplistic, and therefore contributes to abetting the enemy’s tactic of rendering Christianity and Christian leadership irrelevant, distant, and out of touch.
One aspect of leadership is leading the way. You know, “Follow me.”
To split hairs, “follow me” doesn’t quite capture the proximity of leading people effectively. A person can follow from some distance. But if you say, “Join me,” or “Come with me,” the proximity implied in the invitation changes.
Leadership is not so much showing the way as it is taking people on the journey with you. Leadership is not only by example—follow me—but by affinity and by close proximity. You know: show, don’t tell.
I’ve been reluctant in my leadership-by-proximity because of the verses of Scripture that talk about not letting the left hand know what the right hand is up to, about doing your deeds in secret, about loss of reward, etc. Proximity of leadership and followership implies that the leader lets the follower into his leader’s heart and motivation and contribution.
Leadership can be abused by using its platform to garner praise and recognition. But, leadership can also have as its motivation taking others to new heights—new places—by example, and proximity, and sacrifice, and personal risk, and transparency, and by inclusion in the heart’s motive.
Showing the way with an inclusive, arm-around-the-shoulder proximity is the embracing of leadership by inclusion. I like that image.
Leadership by example alone is too distant. I can’t imagine Jesus calling to his disciples from a distance up the trail-of-life and saying, “Follow me.”
I think what he really meant was, “Come with me.”