John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Take Me To Your Leader

When it's all said and done, it all comes down to leadership. Show me your leader, and I can know an awful lot about you -- even if your leader is yourself -- which is what most of us prefer. Clearly, one of the problems in our world today is a lack of real leadership. Strong, courageous, competent, visionary leaders are so few and far between they almost seem non-existent. And there may be some societal reasons for this. The biggest reason is probably the shortage of people willing to be followers.

We live in an age of 51% majorities. Increasingly, it would seem that public opinion polls determine policy. Politicians who are not leaders stick their fingers in the air to see which way the winds of public opinion are blowing on nearly every issue. It seems like this is what makes a person electable nowadays: their willingness to follow the lead of the people back home. Consequently, leaders have become followers, and followers have become leaders.

Should one of our elected officials suddenly sprout a spine and stand in opposition to one of our whims -- even if it is the right thing to do -- we'll just run that person out of office at our earliest convenience.

This is not good. It's created a state where leaders no longer trust their followers, and followers don't trust their leaders. With a few rare exceptions, the only thing either side can be counted upon to do on any kind of consistent basis is to do what they feel is in their own best interests.

What is terribly alarming to me personally is that this is not limited to the realm of politics. It has seeped its way into churches -- the one place in all the world where we should be able to find a healthy example of how leaders should lead and how followers should follow. Following the greatest Leader of all is what Christianity is supposed to be all about, after all. When Christians can't get leadership and followership right, what's the world to do?

Let's talk about this for a while. Let's take our time and be courteous and respectful, please. But let's see if we can figure out what's going on with this issue. And let's start with the most basic premise of Christianity:

Have we misunderstood what it means to follow Jesus? What do you suppose following Jesus looks like? And how have churches and Christians missed the mark on this one?