I have been to many leadership conferences and seminars and read any number of books on the subject. Leadership is everywhere. Books, videos, seminars, audios, websites, organizations and ministries are in place to help people in all walks of life lead better.
But I have wondered if there would be as much excitement for a book or seminar that encourages faithful following? We follow Jesus, but others? Topics could be:
- How to be a good worker
- How to submit yourself to authority
- Be a better team player
- Going the extra mile because it is the right thing to do
Back to sports analogies, fans of various sports know there must be a number of leaders on any successful team. But what they usually neglect to mention is that leaders need to have followers, those who respond to the leadership.
There’s an old saying in Texas that, “If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it is still there.” (There is a corollary, “Always drink upstream from the herd”, but I digress)
So, leaders need followers.
To be fair, most Christian leadership conferences or books focus much on the aspect of humble “servant-leadership”, the kind of seemingly contradictory type of leadership that Christ exhibited.
But by the time all that teaching is absorbed, my guess is that our sinful, “I want to run things” nature discards the servant part and we are left with the authoritarian, “I am in charge and you do what I tell you” kind of leadership. I wonder if there are so many books on leadership because readers desperately want to be in charge.
Of course, on the flip side of this discussion are people who would like to be in charge, but desire the role simply because they can get their way and be paid more. Few are aware that they will be held responsible for those who follow them and will be judged not by their performance, but by the performance of those who they are called to lead. It is never easy to lead well. You take the good with the bad.
So why this lesson on leadership today?
Books and other media have an amazing effect on attitudes of readers. As Christian communicators, we view that as an opportunity to creatively portray things that are counter-intuitive to the world and probably to many Christ-followers as well. That’s why most Christian authors are doing what they do…to make a difference.
Honestly, throughout my life, I have personally covered all the bases…exhibiting both good leadership and poor, following people well and not-so-well. I would guess we are all a mixed bag when it comes to these. (Or, I am the only one so conflicted and you can just ignore all this)
To conclude, let’s focus this for you.
Writing about following is difficult. Especially following a human leader. Our natural tendency is to want our own way. But Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter ten, verse 24 addresses a core behavior with this, ”No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
Sure, like that will ever work.
You have an opportunity to exhibit examples of both good and bad leadership and good and bad “follower-ship” in what you write. Even in fictional works that are not intended to cover the topic per se, you have an opportunity to portray examples of it.
In non-fiction, it is one of those topics that probably will never sell. Who wants to be a follower anyway? We want leadership principles so we can take over!
This is probably a first, an agent suggesting authors write about something that won’t sell. Well, it should. Maybe someone will write something really good and it will start a movement. After all, like I’ve said before, publishing is an art form, not a science and art will win when the science says it is impossible.
This was one of my periodic cathartic blog posts. I feel much better now…thanks for asking.