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Centered Part Five: Follow the Leader

I am a follower

When we were children, we played a game called “follow the leader.”

Darrell— “Let’s play follow the leader.”

Randy— “Can I lead first?”

Jackie— “You always get to go first!”

Carol— “I never to get lead; I’m going home.”

Whatever the leader did we did. What would the leader do next? Was he or she going to turn unexpectedly or maybe run too fast? Would the leader climb higher than we wanted to climb or crawl through a smelly culvert? Maybe the leader was too small or too slow and we could hardly wait for our turn. It was great fun, and there was always one thing you could count only a few were content to always follow; everyone wanted to take a turn at leading.

Not much has changed. Most would agree that in every organization someone needs to be the leader, and not everyone will have their turn leading. It doesn’t matter how the group is set up. You may deny that you need or have a leader because all decisions are made by consensus or council. Even then, one in your group is the major influencer, and the group turns to that individual for guidance.

Leaders encourage, motivate, teach, model, and discipline. The synergy of these combined actions results in influence. Synergy, gestalt; whatever you want to call it, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The artist who combines canvas and paint to create beauty that takes life beyond the combination of colors or the poet who selects words and creates phrases that move you and me to tears. Like this, the whole of our influence is greater than all the qualities that go into leading; and the combined strength of those we lead allows us to accomplish immeasurably more than we could ever hope to as individuals. Moses and Aaron forged a people called Hebrews into a nation of purpose called Israel. David accepted misfits without direction and fashioned them into mighty warriors.

The blade of influence cuts both ways. Jacob’s sin was compounded because this impure spirit affected Rachel. Jacob rationalized his deceptive action, and, in turn, Rachel justified wrong doing. Jacob infected and enflamed the spirit Rachel, causing her to steal from her father as they slipped out, “When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods” (Genesis 31:19). Influence has a protracted memory. Jacob’s sons followed his leadership style by becoming deceivers, “…Jacob's sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor” (Genesis 34:13).

The follower with a pure spirit possesses the key to save weak leaders, encourage moderate leaders, and propel strong leaders.

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