Great Leaders...Great Followers

Cross Rhythms website editor Heather Bellamy is a regular contributor for the local Sentinel newspaper's weekly faith column, Yours Faithfully. Each week a different leader from the local faith communities write the column. Check out what Heather has been saying to the fine people of North Staffordshire.

Last week 19.2% of us turned out to the referendum vote. I don't understand much about politics, so knowing how to vote is always difficult. I go by scraps of information I gain from other people around me, things I've read in the paper and personal opinions on what I see may be relevant issues. When examining the value of my vote it seems a little weak, but I believe the principle of voting is important, as the partnership between authorities and the people is vital for a healthy society. I don't believe that the responsibility for our city just falls on those who occupy positions of influence, but on all of us in our own small ways.

As I lead and as I follow others, the example I turn to for both is Jesus. He has inspired great leaders like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, William Wilberforce and many who followed them in their causes.

As someone under the authority of Father God, Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing. It was spoken of Jesus that 'being in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.' That nature doesn't come easy to us! Being humble enough to listen to the advice of those over us; not conniving to take their positions; doing what they ask us to do. The Bible talks great common sense when it tells us to serve well those we are under, as they are there for our benefit. If we make it harder for them to do their job, that won't be good for us. A friend of mine said recently that she'd hate to be the one to have to lead her as she knows what she's like in the office! Does her observation describe us too?

As a leader Jesus came to serve rather than be served, He told His disciples to not lord it over each other, but if they desired to be great, they should be a slave to all! As the Teacher, He washed their dirty feet. When he was betrayed He forgave. He set His face like flint for His cause and wasn't in fear of man's opinions or what they could do to Him. He never discriminated against who could come to Him, but constantly offended the religious by reaching out to the rejected and marginalised. His leadership was in what He gave to others, not what He took for Himself. What a challenge! Our nature wants to be served, rather than serve most of the time; we want monetary rewards for our efforts and would rather make others redundant than take pay cuts ourselves.

Can we be secure enough to lift up those we lead and think better of them than of ourselves and want them to succeed? Will we employ in paid or voluntary work those who aren't able bodied or have learning difficulties? Can we lead in hard times with sometimes unpopular decisions and see it through if we believe it to be right?

For our city to continue its journey of regeneration, I believe it's going to take great leadership, but also great followers. I hope we get a strong, gifted and good leader of the council next year and I hope as the people of this city that we will keep valuing the little things that we can do, giving what we can to make the city a better place. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.