I’ve been a follower all my life. Now, that’s not to say that I’ve never known leadership. It just means that even while I’ve been leading, I was following. I have had to follow people as a musician, a family member, an employee, and even in ministry. As a follower, I have the privilege to observe a lot. The one thing that I can truly say is absolutely unnerving is coming to a point in which you realize that there’s no one to follow. How is it possible that there could be no one to follow? One way is that the one(s) you have been following passes on. Another possibility is that they move away. Then there is that one chance in a bazillion that you come to a point in your life where you realize that no one is equipped to lead you where you’re going.
There are times in your life that you will find it difficult to find a mentor to take you under their wings. I’ve faced this throughout my life. So I’ve had to follow people that I considered valuable resources, but from a distance. This was partly because the ones that were close to me or within reach at one time or another moved on to do other things and became less accessible, and some even died. It almost became a revolving sad joke because the moment I found a new one, that person would somehow be stripped from me.
What I’ve learned to do at times when this has happened, besides praying, is to study leaders who are doing or moving in the direction that I believe my life is headed in. The people you have a need to follow may not always be approachable or available. The benefit of being able to study their writings or other materials gives you, at least in part a modest template from which to follow. When the disciples lost the physical presence of Jesus, he promised that they’d have another Comforter who would lead them into all truth. The Holy Spirit was that Comforter who brought all things back to their remembrance; all the things that Jesus had taught them.
A certain few people find themselves in the precarious position of having no one to follow. The presence of a mentor, nor the works of distant leaders fits the bill for them. These rare people are faced with the harsh reality of being the pioneer, the innovator, the apostle. These are the ones who are met with the hard task of blazing the trails that have not been paved. These brave souls must take up the mantle of boldly going where none have gone before. When there is no one to follow, they must rely on faith, a dream or vision, a gut feeling, or a revelation. They must have the courage to believe that when there is nothing to lean on, that they must leap forward, forge ahead, launch out, or step forward and they will be okay.
Joshua had to lead a people across the river Jordan during a period where the tide was at its peak, right when Moses died. He had to have faith that when they stepped into the water, they would not be overtaken. They went over on dry ground. Peter had to recall everything that Jesus taught, the moment they were in the Upper Room and people were beginning to wonder what was going on. He was able to declare to them the fulfillment of prophecies that Joel had spoken, and led thousands through it.
Each day, there is a new thing happening that is birthing people left without someone to follow, simply because things are happening so fast, that there is no one with the skillset to lead them because they have no frame of reference for what is next. If you happen to be one such person, trust that there is already in you all the inner fortitude to what must be done.
QUESTION: Have you discovered that you’re such a person who has no one to follow? How have you handled it?
- David Platt Wants You to Get Serious About Following Christ (christianitytoday.com)
- Leaderless. Clueless. Hopeless: Aston Villa are in a relegation scrap and I seriously fear for them (mirror.co.uk)
- When Leaders Disappoint (randythomas.co)
- Leading and Following (williamstipp.com)