Great Leaders are First Great Followers

I have appreciated the many voices promoting leadership over the past several decades. It has been a blessing to see the emphasis upon character and care elevated in leadership. I was recently reminded of a statement that had an impact on me several years ago, “You will never be a great leader until you can grow to become a great follower!”


This discussion on being a great leader is a secondary application of our study this past week on Romans 13. If you are familiar with Romans 13, you will know that the major emphasis in those 14 verses is on submission and specifically, submission to government. Submission has been a bad word in our world for many years. Romans 13 addresses the core issue behind much of the uproar against authority structure (If you are interested you can listen to the sermon “Worship Through Submission.” I want to focus on the other side of the coin in my article today, being a great leader.


I regularly have conversations with people that are struggling under poor leaders. Now, as a leader, I realize that there are two sides to every issue. But, I can speak from my own experience as a leader and under leadership that we need to do a better job. Let me apply a couple observations from my message Sunday that we help us to be better leaders.


I first need to mention that everyone is a leader in some sphere of life. Yes, there are those that hold official positions in organization, but parents and even siblings are leaders. There are leaders in the classroom, on the job and the sports field. These truths can help each of us to be a better leader in our sphere of influence.


First, we need to grasp that God is the source of all valid authority. “For there is no authority except from God,” (Romans 13:1b).  And second, God created all the primary authority structure that exists.  “And those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1c) These created authority structures would at least include family, church and government and possibly others. What that means is that if you are in a position of influence over others it is because God allows it. Think on this for a moment then look at the next insight on leadership.


Third, you are accountable to God for your leadership! “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:2) The immediate context speaks of a citizen’s accountability to live responsibly under governmental authority but would also include the accountability of those in leadership positions. Look at James’ warning to those that desire a position of influence in the church. Paul’s words in Romans 12:19 reminds us that God deals with injustice!


And last, you are a leader are in your position to serve God’s purpose. Paul reminds us that those in positions of authority are actually representing God. Paul refers to government officials as God’s servants and ministers of God. All to often we view leadership as a way to serve ourselves and do things our ways. A Biblical view of leadership reminds us that great leaders often must sacrifice their own desires and convenience for the benefit of others. This is why great leaders are great servants!

Jesus says it best, “And [Jesus] sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”” Mark 9:35


-Pastor Joe Parkinson

Leave a reply