Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” – Joshua 1:16-18 (NIV)
A lot of emphasis these days is put on the need for good leadership in the church, but the reality is the church does not just need good leadership and good leaders but also good “followship” — people that can follow well.
It’s easy to point the finger at leaders that have made mistakes or not led well, but what about followers taking responsibility for how well they have followed leadership? I think this is a really interesting thought that has the potential to produce a whole lot of good and very healthy, effective churches – if we dare to think about it.
In the scripture above, we read about some great followers – the followers of Joshua. This is the second time Israel had been given an opportunity to inherit the land God had promised (as you know the first time did not go so well). Why did it all go wrong that first time when Moses was leading? If you read about that account, the problem was not actually with the leaders (Moses, Joshua and Caleb) it was with the followers. They were the ones that caused the nation to not enter in.
This time, under the leadership of Joshua, things are very different. He had followers who were for him and for the vision that was given to him, followers who were sold out for the journey of God that was before them. I believe it was their good hearts and great attitudes that caused this second attempt to gain the promised land to be a success.
Just as leaders are meant to empower followers, followers also have the potential to empower their leaders. It is a powerful thing for a leader when his or her people come alongside them with a “we can do it” attitude. Read it again: these guys were willing to take care of the negative followers to make sure that success happened.
We are all leaders in life, and we are all often followers too. How good are you at being a follower? Do you empower the leaders in your life and give them courage to go for it like Joshua’s followers did?
Andy Elmes is the Senior Pastor of Family Church, located in Portsmouth on the south coast of England. He is a dynamic and visionary speaker, and regularly ministers in churches throughout the UK, as well as the US and Europe. In 2009 he launched Synergy Network, a network of like-minded churches seeking inspiration and relationship drawn together from across the world, who annually meet together for Empower Conference, an inspirational weekend of teaching and worship, raising up leadership throughout the church and all aspects of life. Andy writes a daily devotional called Breakfast of Champions, from which the above article is taken. He is married to Gina, and they have five children.