I challenge you to think upon a time when you were in a group of people and someone had an idea that was outside the box. It could be a risk they wanted to take, a new business venture, or just something extremely fun (but outside the ordinary). Think upon that time hard and consider the series of events. What happened? Well, first someone had to have the idea or suggestion to begin with. But then what happened? Likely the group looked around in search of someone who had enough moxy to affirm the idea first. Let’s look at an example:
A group of teens drive up to the top of a cliff on the California coast. They want to see the view back over the valley, as well the expansive ocean that sits before them. Then, with all the cars parked facing the cliff someone gets an idea and suggests they all go cliff jumping. The chances are pretty good that there would be a long silence followed by one of two things: (1) either someone speaks up saying, “lets do it,” convincing the rest of the group to go ahead with the wild idea or (2) total silence killing the dream before it ever began.
When we think of a leader, we often think of the first person in this scenario – the person who suggested you jump off a cliff. While it might indeed be that they display leadership qualities, albeit misguided for people with a fear of heights, I want to challenge your thinking for a moment. The person displaying just as much, if not more leadership, is the first follower. Think about this for a moment in Biblical terms:
Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee when He called his first disciples, Peter and Andrew. Now, what would have happened if Jesus said “follow me” and no one stepped up and affirmed His call? You see, even Jesus had to have someone be the first follower – someone had to take the risk and lend credence to the mission that Jesus was on.
Now, think about this in your own context. Whether it is at work, school, or in your faith journey, how are you displaying leadership? Do you always have to be the one with the idea or do you ever stand behind someone knowing that collectively you can get more done together? Next time someone has an audacious goal to do something great for the Kingdom of God, I’d challenge you to first evaluate it and see if it’s Biblical, but then stand up and be a “first follower.” You see if you do this, you become the key to that good work gaining momentum. By you affirming it, others will join in and when those join in, the masses will start to follow.
In the end, what we are talking about is creating movements through outside the box leadership. If everyone thought that their ideas were the best, no one would get anywhere in this world. Instead, it’s vital that we have first-followers, people who stand behind someone else’s idea because when they do, the chances are that exponential growth isn’t far behind. So, I ask you, what is more vital for us today? Having more people think that their ultimate leadership is key, or being unique enough to actually stand up as a first or second follower and see the lasting change that can come about as a result.
Have you ever followed a leader and seen your example start something special? If so, share your story below in the comments!