We define success by those who lead. Leaders are the ones who have made it to the top. They are the ones whose books we read. Leaders become role models. We are envious of leaders. Everyone wants to be a leader. No one wants to be a follower. Followers are second fiddle. Followers are seen as those who have not made it to the top. Leaders are the winners. Followers are the losers. Followers are followers because they do not have what it takes to be a leader.
Jesus walks through the halls of our schools, sneaks into the boardrooms of our companies, and shows up at our church meetings saying, “You got it all wrong. Great followers make good leaders.” Jesus takes twelve followers who eventually become leaders that turn the world upside down.
At the end of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says to his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). They would not have been given this invitation had they not responded to the first one, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Mark 1:17). They followed. They didn’t always follow perfectly. They got confused. They lost focus. In the end they even tried to run away. After the resurrection, Jesus catches up with the wayward disciples. He chastises them for not believing. But in the end he sends them out to change the world. Great followers make good leaders.
The call to “go” will never come before the challenge to “follow me” has been answered. It is only in following that we discover where Jesus wants us to go. In following we discover where he wants us to lead. Great followers make good leaders.