Is Anyone Following?

I've never spoken with Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. I've never had conversations with Jeff Bezos or Sergey Brin. And yet nearly everyday I use an Apple Macbook, an Android phone, and buy something on Amazon. How did this happen?

In our previous post, we discussed how Jesus, despite bringing healing to a sick man, was asked to leave a region because people were afraid of him. Even though Jesus could have brought even more healing to that region (which was his typical M.O. when traveling), they sent Jesus away and lost out and all the good He could have brought.

But something curious happens at the end of that story. The healed man asks to go with Jesus, to become one of his traveling companions. Jesus, however, tells him no. Jesus says, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you. So the man goes away and begins to tell folks in his region of ten towns how much Jesus had done for him. And then Scripture says that all the people were amazed.

Do you notice the difference between the people's reaction to Jesus compared to their reaction to this man. When they show up and meet Jesus, there response is fear and rejection. But once the man begins to tell his story, their response is amazement.

I have some suspicions that if I were to have met Steve Jobs in real life, we would have not have liked each other much. He was known to be brash and harsh and driven, whereas I'm more laid back. Jeff Bezos and I would probably have a conversation about Amazon's warehouse employee conditions that wouldn't make him too happy about meeting me.

However, despite the fact I can't imagine being friends with the leaders of the world's most influential companies, I'm still pretty devoted to their products. Why is that?

Well, for Apple products, it was a combination of peer pressure and personal evangelism. People who love their Apple laptops, phones, and watches cannot wait to tell someone else about how much their Apple products. After a decade of building my own ugly PCs and looking at the silver gleam of a MacBook Pro, I eventually was worn down, took the dive in, and haven't looked back.

For Amazon, it wasn't so much due to people raving to me about Amazon; it was due to the perception of necessity. When you live in rural Iowa, you might as well include "Amazon Prime" on your list of utilities, alongside water, natural gas, and electricity.

Jesus was confident enough in who He was that

1) He wasn't deterred by the rejection He had just encountered.

2) He didn't need the emotional stroke of yet one more traveling companion.

3) He was confident enough in what He was offering - the healing power of the Kingdom of God - that He left it to someone else to do the talking for him

4) Jesus recognized that someone else could be more effective than even Himself in communicating the message of God's Kingdom.

As leaders, every so often, we need to look behind us and see if anyone is following. If not, bad news. You're not leading, you're just on a long walk by yourself. As my friend Steve Petty says, if we discover that as we lead, no one is following, we can't just ask for better followers. That's not how leadership works. Instead we have to ask ourselves how to become better leaders.

One test of leadership is seeing if those we are leading are becoming leaders themselves. Are they, on their own, able to maintain the vision of the organization and communicate in a compelling way to people you may not otherwise reach? Even Jesus Himself recognized that He could not reach everyone. Some people would be turned off by His style and His tactics. And He was okay with that! Jesus, therefore, commissioned others to communicate to people in more effective ways than He possibly could.

Are you confident enough in your own leadership to let others lead as well? Or do you feel like you have to do it all? Like it will all fall apart if it doesn't rely on you? If Jesus Himself allowed others to lead and communicate in His stead, I think you and I might be able to as well.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC