Great leaders need to be led. Leaders learn this in all sorts of ways, including from other leaders. One of the most well-read ancient texts in the world – Psalm 23 – found in the heart of the Bible, was written three thousand years ago by the top leader of the day, King David of Israel. Today it’s read by people of many faiths and none. It’s a beautifully written song to which many go, in order to find guidance, comfort and hope. And it begins with leadership.
David, the greatest leader of his day, says ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ He’s saying that he himself is led. He’s chosen to be servant of the great Shepherd. He’s content with the fact that there’s a greater Power, a higher Force, a good God, who guides and leads him. He calls him ‘The Lord.’
Down the ages, excellent leaders know that unless they themselves are led, then they’re vulnerable. They’re susceptible to selfishness, egotism, and much more. But when you are led by God, you instead recognise that you’re part of a greater purpose and a bigger picture. You’ve been given authority to lead, for a time. And so with this comes a right sense of responsibility and humility.
So often leaders don’t know what to do. There are multiple directions they could take their people/ company/ organisation. What should they do? And how? And when? Knowing that there is a good God who loves to lead and guide, is reassuring. But it also presents a challenge, which is to get to know him and follow his ways. Bill Johnson could not put it better, when he says:
‘The greatest responsibility for leaders has nothing to do with leading. It has to do with following. I am designed to live under the influence of the King and his kingdom. And I must make sure the right things make an impact on me, so that my impact on the world around me is what God intends.’
That’s why good leaders need first to be followers. That means that to be most effective in the sphere of influence in which you’ve been placed, you need to make sure you’re following well.
So who are you following? I’d recommend ‘the good shepherd’ – the Lord Jesus Christ.
And how are you following? I’d recommend prayer. Ask to be led. And read from the Bible (perhaps starting with one of the gospels – eg. Matthew Mark, Luke or John). Choose to be guided. See the difference it makes. Because great leaders need to be led.