I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, And Life of Following Jesus (It’s Never Been About Leading) by Leonard Sweet
Published by Thomas Nelson
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Leonard Sweet does it again, a meditative analysis of the current professionalization of ministry, addressing the leadership-laity divide and reminding us to be thinking Christians rather than ABC (already been chewed by others) Christianity. The first time I was confronted with this contemplative Christianity was with John Piper’s Brothers We Are Not Professionals. When I read Piper’s book I was was in my first year at seminary and I changed my major to an Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling and started working on my NANC certification. Many turning points later, “I Am a Follower” brought the same timely conviction and gospel-centered reminder that I was ready to hear. In short, an attempt at a summary, one could say this work is about the ‘function’ versus ‘form’ of what it means to be a disciple… a Follower versus entrepreneurial leader. A fresh and engaging paradigm shift away from leadership classes, coaching, seminars, and webinars so saturating the church today.
Some challenging quotes,
Somewhere in the back in the past half century, we diagnosed the churches problem as a crisis of leading, not a crisis of following. It’s as if we read Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship and decided we’d rather talk about something else entirely.
We have come to believe that we have a leadership crisis while all along we have been a drought of discipleship. The Jesus paradox is that only Christians lead by following.
That’s our problem. The church has become just what Eisenhower predicted: a place where everyone is trying to get everyone else to do what they want don but don’t want to do themselves.
We are commissioned not to begin a new ministry but to carry on Christ’s ministry on earth.
God does not ask if we are able. God asks if we are available.
Until we die to the idea that we are somehow ‘ahead of’ or ‘above’ the community of faith around us, we will continue to be frustrated in our attempts to have authentic community that combines real relationships with real discipleship.
Titles are dividers
The ideology of leaders as shepherds does not let God be God. It is based on the notion that Jesus can’t possibly lead by Himself, so someone has to do it for Him.
Disciple makers are above all nudgers. Rather than preach or pressure, they gently nudge those they meet toward a God who is already active in their world and in their lives. Nudgers are followers making followers. Nudge disciples make disciples; they are not followers making leaders.
You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
End of Construction. Thank you for your Patience – on Ruth Bell Graham’s headstone.
The leadership paradigm of sages and gurus is a solipsistic celebration of ‘people with answers’ who easily hide behind a façade of success and a mask of entitlement. Sages and gurus give advice—or, more commonly, market it. But they rarely have any intention of sharing a live with those they give advice to. A followership community, on the other hand, is an authentic fellowship of disciples bound together by the incarnate Spirit of Christ.
Leadership literature says, “Seek balance.” But did Jesus live a balanced life? Of did Jesus catch people off balance and leave people unbalanced on the path of a harmonious life?
Jesus was less about giving the right answers than He was about getting His disciples to think about the questions—and sometimes wanting them to marinate in the questions without reaching any definitive answers. He did not negate the Law, be He went beyond the Law. Jesus taught in parables, metaphors of living that called for followers to make life decisions holistically.
This book was timely and very interesting to me. It challenged me, inspired me, and enlightened me even as I struggle with my own selfish ambition. Sweet made me think long and hard about what it means to be a follower versus the selfish need to lead for my glory. The format and outline held my attention, however I wish the footnotes were on the actual page, flipping back and forth for the great references for further study broke up the flow of reading in my opinion. I thought Leonard did a great job of presenting this material in a cohesive, yet appealing manner. I am also convinced that that the author successfully challenged the moral relativism of our idol factories and successfully conveyed Biblical truth. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in remembering first things… the main thing. Excellent read!
The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
|I Am A Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus
By Leonard Sweet / Thomas Nelson
"Leadership" has become a runaway obsession for those who are called to equip the body of Christ for service in the Kingdom of God. The concept of "followership" is all but lost in the wake of this leadership fetish, a near hypnotic obsession. Jesus’ clear call, and the pattern of New Testament leadership, are actually found in a pattern of followership. We’ve been told otherwise but when it comes to a movement in our churches, our families, or the workplace, everything rises or falls on followership.
Sweet proposes an intentional shift from leadership cults to followership cultures. He critiques the issue of leadership obsession but focuses on reigniting a passion for the "follow me" theme found throughout the gospels and the entire New Testament. Building on a set of metaphors/images, he stirs the imagination by showing what it means to be a follower of Christ and explains the vital cog that followership and the first follower play in helping others enter into the Kingdom of God.
I Am A Follower moves readers: