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Sadly, this life-changing invitation has lost much of its original meaning.Immersed in a society that worships success, we have succumbed to a trendy
fixation with leadership. In I Am a Follower, author ...
Sadly, this life-changing invitation has lost much of its original meaning.Immersed in a society that worships success, we have succumbed to a trendy
fixation with leadership. In I Am a Follower, author Leonard Sweet explainshow Christians in a twenty-first-century corporate-obsessed culture haveshifted away from a Jesus art of following toward a popularized form of leading.
Through a colorful mélange of practical applications, imaginative metaphors,and probing biblical exposition based in gospel truth, Sweet reveals that thesummons of Jesus and the message of the New Testament point clearly to anemphasis not on imitation but on incarnation, not on leading but on following.
Join Sweet on an exciting and intentional journey from leadership cult tofollowership culture. Discover for yourself the way, the truth, and the abundant
life of following Jesus Christ and what it truly means to “Follow Me”!
“At times I felt like I was reading Jeremiah, challenging the shepherdsof Israel. This is a much needed and long overdue book.”
—BOB ROBERTS, senior pastor, Northwood Church
“If there was ever a leader who could convince me that it’s really never been aboutleading, that would have to be Len Sweet. May we all, like Len, become followers.”
—MARK BATTERSON, lead pastor, National Community Church
The voice that we hear over our shoulders never says, "First be sure that your motives are pure and selfless and then follow me." If it did, then we could none of us follow. So when later on the voice says, "Take up your cross and follow me," at least part of what is meant by "cross" is our realization that we are seldom any less than nine parts fake. Yet our feet can insist on answering him anyway, and on we go, step after step, mile after mile. How far? How far? Frederick Buechner
Long before the "dog whisperer," Cesar Millan, there was the "horse whisperer."
Monty Roberts was raised in the horse business. He learned there was one way to train horses: by "breaking" them. Through domination and force, which at times included striking the horse with whips or even tying and suspending the horse's feet and legs, a trainer would impose his will upon the animal until it reached the conclusion that total submission was the only way to survive.
In his early teen years Roberts began to study the behavior and communication patterns of wild mustangs in the badlands of Nevada. He took note of the nonverbal communication among the horses, a kind of horse language he named Equus. Drawing on this observation and his firsthand experience with horses, Roberts developed a breakthrough training technique he first called "hooking on" as opposed to "breaking down" the horse's will. This new training method was based on a cornerstone concept he eventually trademarked Join-Up. Join-Up not only stopped the "breaking" norms of traditional horse training. It showcased how to cooperate with the horse's own spirit, innate ways, and means of communicating as a member of the herd.
Monty Roberts's early experiments yielded a breakthrough in the equine-equestrian relationship. His techniques laid the platform for a partnership between horse and human rather than a coexistence through domination. The personality and full potential of the horse emerge through loving freedom and desire rather than domination and infliction.
Join-Up relies on invitation rather than imposition. The Join-Up technique invites an untamed horse that has never been ridden to willingly accept the saddle, bridle, and rider. It is a thing of beauty to watch. Monty Roberts enters a round pen with a wild horse. In as little as half an hour, he'll be riding the horse.
Roberts creates an atmosphere of mutual respect that communicates, "I'm not going to hurt you, and you don't have to follow me if you don't want to." After a brief period of introducing himself and interacting with the horse comes the penultimate moment. Roberts turns his back to the animal and walks away.
At this point the horse trains her eyes on Monty with all-out intensity and attention. She is asking herself, Where is he going? and Do I want to stay by myself? The horse must choose: I want to be with you. I want to join up and follow you on the way. She quickly decides: my safe place is with you. Dropping her head (equine language for "I submit to you") and trotting to Roberts's side, the horse says, "I choose to follow. I want to be with you."
Dante was right. In the end, it is only love that moves the planets and the stars. And it is love alone that draws us on the way.
Before Christianity is truth and life, it's a way. The first followers of Jesus were followers first, and they called their new adventure the Way. They were people of the way and people on the way. And we are too. We begin also by joining Jesus on the way. First followers grow faith more on assays than in essays.
The very fact that we can get on the way with Jesus is due to the divine leveling. At Christmas God came down to human level. The Hebrews spoke of leveling the path for the king to travel or making "his paths straight." The thought that the King of creation, the very Son of God, would come down on the road of humanity—travel to us, travel with us—in order to level the road and make our paths straight to our Creator ... no wonder we dare call this the greatest story ever told.
If followership is a way first, then the Christian life is a verb before it is a noun. Humans exist as humans only when we see existence as a verb and not a noun. For first followers, nouns are slow-motion verbs, moving images that characterize dynamic pilgrimage in God and life.
Nouns objectify and commodify. Verbs signify action; they move things along. First followers see God and life as an entire language in verbs. Pilgriming moves us from a noun-centric language to a verb-centric language. To join Jesus "on the way" is to cease being objects of our own glory and to become journeying, ever-moving subjects of Christ Jesus.
To follow is to "way" with Jesus. By faith we are saved, but through faith we follow. Faith is the highway, the "high way" of life. Followership is a "way," in that it is a path of exploration and discovery. The key is to get our feet on the path and to start pilgriming with Jesus. The Way is less a worldview than a worldwalk. The Greek word translated "follow" is most often rooted in the word for "road." To follow is to share the same road.
This thing we call life is a journey, a pilgrimage. Originating in the heart of God, through birth entry into the human and rebirth entry into the divine, we walk along the unique path that is our one and only life. Life is short. The chisels of family, friends, enemies, and lovers carve us and shape who we are becoming at this very moment. But the sculpting is never complete. The master Sculptor moves upon us as we move with him. We move in and out of darkness and light, experiencing plenty and want. But we do not go alone. At least we don't have to.
First followers are called not generally but personally—by name! Like Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors in the way of faith, we journey on through desert and village oasis with our covenant-making God. We are called to travel this life path that is at times bewildering and at other times clear and sure. But we always travel by faith and through faith in the One who is the Way.
A noun is a verb in time. Attributed to psychoneurolinguist George Lakoff
When we think of a pilgrimage, we may not immediately think of Christianity. Islam may come to mind instead because many of us have been taught that every Muslim is required to be a pilgrim to Mecca once in a lifetime. But this is not the case. The hajj is not required of every Muslim. It is a duty only for those who meet certain conditions, such as being able to afford the journey and not placing his family in want because of it. Only a very small minority of Muslims has ever made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
In contrast, pilgriming with Jesus is a mandatory requirement.
There is an ancient African phrase, "Will you walk with me?" It doesn't mean a stroll or short jaunt around the corner. It means to enter another person's world, to join his or her journey. To walk with Jesus does not mean to travel behind or in front of but beside him. To follow Jesus on the way doesn't mean to fall in behind him in a directional sense but to be caught up in what he is doing.
Jesus invites us to join his journey, to "live and move" and draw our very being from him. No one understood this better than the apostle Paul, whose hurrying footsteps took the gospel as far as Rome and whose "all things to all men" life was one of "journeyings often." As the life of Paul reveals, in the walk with Jesus, sometimes we run. Other times we slog ... or dawdle or saunter, wander or meander. Sometimes we hike. Sometimes we march. Or we trudge, limp, hobble.
Sometimes we pound the pavement. Sometimes we promenade. Sometimes we fall behind. Sometimes we follow at various distances. Peter at least followed Jesus "at a distance." At a distance is never safe, but it is better to follow that way than to flee like the other disciples did. We try never to run away. Or swagger. Or strut.
Whatever way we move, we do it with a sense of urgency, just as Jesus moved through his life on earth. The gospel of Mark has a favorite word, euthus, which means "at once, straightway, instantly." Whether Jesus moved fast or moseyed along, he typically proceeded with euthus, with a sense of urgency for God's mission in the world. He always knew just when to come and when to leave. First followers aspire to do the same.
But we don't first get it right and then follow Jesus. We don't get our theology down and our view of the sacraments all figured out or make up our minds what church to join before we follow Jesus. Only after the resurrection did his closest followers, the disciples, make sense of Jesus' promise to rise from the dead. Until then they debated among themselves what he was talking about.
In spite of what the Declaration of Independence would have us believe, truth is not self-evident. It has to be learned. For example, you learn Mozart by practice and repetition. By listening to Mozart you gradually begin to understand Mozart. You don't understand Mozart by not listening to Mozart.
When Jesus invited people to follow him, he was God's Whisperer: "Do you trust me enough to get on the way with me? I'm not asking for anything more than this: trust me enough to get on the way with me; trust me enough to hang out with those who are with me; trust me enough to hook on to my life."
The mind begins in incantation and then approaches comprehension. David Martin
In short, Jesus is saying to each one of us: "trust me enough to get up and go forth." We sing "Just a Closer Walk," not "Just a Longer Stay" for a reason. Lech lecha is the Hebrew command to Abraham in Genesis 12:1 to "go forth." Lech lecha means to go outward from your clan, your culture, your comfort zones and become a blessing for "all families of the earth." But there is a sense in which lech lecha also means to "walk toward yourself." To walk the way with Jesus is a pilgrimage both outward and inward. But you can't be who God made you to be until you have found your identity outside yourself in God.
Jesus does not give the entirety of the truth all at once. Walk with Jesus and you learn: you learn your sin; you learn your salvation; you learn the meaning of grace. Travel with Jesus. Journey on. You don't get the answers before the questions. You get the answers, or you learn to live with the questions as you go with Jesus. Both Jesus and the world need your inexperience and ignorance. Don't wait to solve the world's problems. Wherever you are now, whatever you are doing now, begin now.
Sometimes you just inhabit the mystery as you go with Jesus. My favorite moment in Handel's Messiah is when the bass soloist proclaims (quoting 1 Corinthians 15:51), "Behold, I tell you a mystery!" The journey of a pilgrim is filled with "things understood not." The great work of faith is to embrace those things you know not now but shall know thereafter or understand more fully by and by. Being a follower is less about showing how much you know than showing humble gratitude for how much there is to be known.
Orthodoxy is far from uniform. True orthodoxy is bolder, more liberating, more fantastical, and more adventurous than any heresy. Besides, sometimes what begins in the cry of a so-called heresy ends in heritage.
Jesus spoke these words, "Follow Me," not once but many times. He spoke them to Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee. To Levi, the son of Alphaeus, at the seat of custom, he called, "Follow Me." To a balking inquirer, he motioned, "Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead." To the rich young ruler, he challenged, "Sell what you have and give to the poor ... and come, follow Me." To all his disciples, he summoned, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Ours is to follow. His is to make us "fishers." To you and to me, he lovingly says, "Trust me." And if we dare to do that, to follow when Christ summons us, "dem bones gonna rise" and walk.
Walk This Way
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk! Apostle Peter
But to follow Jesus, to "come, follow me," was fundamentally an invitation to halakha, to walk together. Not singly but in solidarity. It's not "I walked," but "we are walking." Life's solidity comes through solidarity with Christ and with the body of Christ.
Halakha (halakhah, halacha, halachah) is a Hebrew word commonly used to refer to the collective corpus of Jewish law, custom, and tradition. But it has a deeper meaning than "body of law." The word comes from the Hebrew root word for "going." A literal translation does not yield the word law but rather "the way to go." In Jesus the way to go was now no longer a body of laws; the way to go was now a Person who invites men and women into a relationship with God and with each other. Jesus chose the twelve disciples "that they should be with him."
Some have called Mary "the perfect disciple." Mary is a great model for us of what it means to "way" with Jesus.
To be a disciple is to "follow the way." And to follow the way means what?
Trust and obey. As Walter Burghardt puts it:
It began when a teen-ager in Nazareth heard God's invitation: Will you mother my Son? Yes. It continued when Mary lost her 12-year-old in Jerusalem: Will you let my Son go? Yes. It came to a climax on Calvary: Will you give my Son back to me? Yes.
Jesus himself defined following on the way in journey terms: "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." The language of "crossed over from death to life" is very specific. The verb used in the original is metabaino, and it denotes a journey kind of movement. There is a departure and there is an arrival, but there is also a territory between the two. A path to follow. A way.
Both beginning and ending are important, but have we made Christianity more a moment of decision than a momentum for life? Both are important, but have we spent more time on how you become a Christian than on what it means to live as a Christian? Both are important, but have we made holiness more about a destination than a direction?
Discipleship is the art of pilgriming, the artistry of following Jesus. Or the capacity to be caught up in what God is doing in the world today. We think art has to be made out of oil paint, bronze, or marble. But art can be made out of flesh and blood too. Jesus wants to turn you into an artwork. But pilgriming is an art form that takes a lifetime to dry.
There is a story about an old man who lived in a small village:
He was the poorest man in the village, but he owned the most beautiful white stallion. And the king had offered him a small fortune for it. After a terribly harsh winter, during which the old man and his family nearly starved, the townspeople came to visit.
"Old man," they said, "you can hardly afford to feed your family. Sell the stallion, and you will be rich. If you do not, you are a fool."
"It's too early to tell," replied the old man. A few months later, the old man woke up to find that the white stallion had run away.
Once again the townspeople came, and they said to the old man, "See. If you had sold the king your horse, you would be rich. Now you have nothing! You are a fool!"
"It's too early to tell," replied the old man.
Two weeks later, the white stallion returned, and along with it came three other white stallions.
"Old man," the townspeople said, "we are the fools! Now you can sell the stallion to the king and you will still have three stallions left. You are smart."
"It's too early to tell," said the old man.
Excerpted from I AM A FOLLOWER by LEONARD SWEET Copyright © 2012 by Leonard Sweet. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reel To Real: Sasquatch Festival 3
Being A First Follower 5
The Way, The Truth, The Life 7
Vece: The Place 17
What's Your Pleasure? 22
The Leadership Myth 25
Two Categorical Imperatives 27
Among You It Will Be Different 33
The Collapse of the Leadership Myth 35
My Yoke Is Hard; My Burden Is Heavy 39
Three-Part Story 46
Via: The Way 61
Missional Living 63
Walk This Way 70
You Talkin' to Me? 73
The Law Is Not the Savior 76
A Breed Apart 78
Size Matters: From Parking-Lot Churches to Pedestrian Churches 82
The Great Exchange: From Saul's Armor to David's Sling 86
Paradise in Paradox 89
From Measurable Metrics to Growing Fruits 92
Pruning Pain 95
Viaticum or Bread for the Journey 97
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Hope Casting 100
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Heaven Casting 105
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Love Casting 109
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Joy Casting 112
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Peace Casting 116
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Patience Casting 121
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Trust Casting 124
The Wayfarer's Fruit of Rest Casting 126
Verità The Truth 137
Relationai Living 139
Big J and little j 143
From Map to Driver's License 148
From "Take Me to Your Leader" to "Follow Me to the Cross" 150
From "Show Me the Money" to "Count the Cost" 155
From Knowledge Led to Spirit Led 158
From Strengths to Weaknesses 161
From Know-It-All to Seeking All in the All in All 171
From Professional Clergy to the Leasthood Priesthood 174
False Categories 180
From In His Steps to In Sync 182
Vita: The Life 191
Incarnational Living 193
Who Discipled You? 195
From Number One Leader to Coach Ghost 200
From Sages and Gurus to Scouts and Sherpas 205
From a Balanced Life to Harmonious Living 212
From Rugged Individualism to Integrated Ecosystems 216
From Having the Right Answers to Asking the Right Questions to Living the Mystery 221
From Strategic Planning to a Spirit of Trust 228
Bigger Upper Rooms 233
Implanted, Not Imprinted 240
So They Will Know 244
Reel To Real: "Tico Tico" 251
The Art of Followershipp255
Living Your Story as Christ's Story 257
Becoming the Music 260
Posted August 17, 2013
Posted March 10, 2013
I found this book very hard to get through. One quote from the author regarding who he is explains a lot: "I tend to live a windblown life - sails set and driven on the great gale of Spirit". Windblown describes this book. I did get a few nuggets of truth from this writing, but 90% of the book seemed to be lotsa metaphors, side bars and quotes from everywhere (Christian and non-christian alike) and were a real distraction from what the author was trying to say. Additionally, some terms suggest New Ageism; there was some contradiction; I found the inter-actives (a staple in most all self-help books) self oriented rather than Christ oriented.
I disagreed with the author on a couple of points: 1), Jesus should be the center of our lives (the author said he should not be, but be peripheral or ... I did not quite get his meaning ...); 2), "mentoring" or "apprenticeship" are terms of the world (see my closing remarks below); 3), we of the body of Christ are not to make disciples of others or to make anything for that matter (this is the job of the Holy Spirit - again, see remarks at end); 4), I see compromise in this book. Often I can not tell if the author is relating his remarks to the church made with hands or the spiritual Ecclesia. This is troubling because the brick & mortar church can not be changed. By its very nature, it will have some sort of leadership committee to run it, for it is patterned after the world. While reading, the word "compromise" kept coming to mind's eye.
I believe that today's church system does need to understand that Christ is the sole Leader of the body of Christ. I also deeply believe that those in the Ecclesia need to rethink their walk, as the majority of Christians seem to be stuck in the outer court - ever learning and doing, but never growing and maturing as true disciples. For that, one must put aside ALL of one's agenda and enter the inner court with the attitude of ministering to God - hear and obey. Paul spent 3 years in the desert under the tuteledge of the Holy Spirit. He was not "mentored" or "apprenticed" as the world sees such things: but like Moses and so many others did, he totally submitted to the Lord. Then he re-joined his brethren in the faith and together they ministered to God and when ready, were sent by the Lord to spread the good news. As we live out the life of Christ in our everyday circumstances, we spead the seeds of God's love and purpose, while testifying to the power and authority of the Christ in our lives. The Holy Spirit waters those seeds. Short story: We can not do the Lord's will if we remain in the outer court. Just as Moses did, we must enter the inner court with no other agenda except to minister to God, to find out his purpose and then move when he tells us to. Sometimes that is as a single person in our prayer closet, or as part of the Ecclesia. We learn to work together and help each other by hearing and obeying the word of the Lord. This "togetherness" in the Ecclesia, along with the five fold ministry (still alive today, but are functions, rather than leadership offices to be filled), serve to mature believers in the body of Christ, until we all become united in God's purpose and cause.
Posted January 24, 2013
I had never read a Len Sweet book before Booksneeze came along. In fact, I'm sure I would have gone my whole life never having read one of his books (as before Booksneeze I wasn't really sure where to buy or acquire Christian Lit). However, Len seemed to have a very eye-catching cover to his book and so out of all the other choices I chose to review his. Booksneeze sent the book quite promptly in the mail, which was always a nice quality of theirs.
Len Sweet takes an approach such that a book can be biblical and still be thought-provoking and amusing. It really makes you think about the hypocrisy of the money-hungry versus the simple way Jesus lived. This book is divided into THREE sections, characterized by four Latin words: Vece, Via, Verita, and Vita. One excellent addition is that the book is able to be used alone OR with others.
The book delivers a simple, powerful message : we are meant to follow. :)
4 out of 5 stars
I'd recommend this to someone who likes eye-openers.
Posted December 30, 2012
This book is fresh and revolutionary but not a quick read. Not a quick read on purpose.
As I like to do (which unfortunately turns against my page-turning production ;)), I frequently set "I am Follower" aside to think, pray, ponder and reflect on a passage or even a sentence that brought much life to my understanding of what the primary calling of any Christian is and should be.
It will not come a surprise that it is becoming followers of Christ. Even at the expense of never being leaders.
I am very fond of the painting-like prose and reasoning of professor Leonard Sweet. His use of examples (including links to youtube videos), metaphors and comparisons. I would agree with most of his argumentation, especially whenever he is close to my vein of interpretation of who we are and why we are here for. The only thing that goes too far for me is the idea of Christians being non-capital "j" jesuses impersonifying the capital "J" Jesus. Perhaps my on-going sanctification has not progressed far enough for me to see it yet ;).
I would highly recommend this book (particularly the first 2 parts of it) to people who like thinking about why the believe what they believe. And having come to the conclusion, act on it.
Posted August 18, 2012
I decided to read this book because I am in a job field right now where it is all about leading people in the right direction and getting them to follow you. What I have seen and heard about churches and pastoring is quite similar. If you are a good pastor, your church will be on the right path and following Jesus. I thought this book would help me to discover a little more about how to follow Jesus, but I think I would have been better off simply reading the Bible and learning more that way. This book was very dry and hard to get into. That is why it took me so long to read it. I enjoy books that flow well and keep you interested, and this was not one of them for me. It was presented as a new concept, but as a Christian I already know that I should be following Jesus, and I hope that I can learn about following simply from the Bible. Isn't that kind of the point?
If you are unsure of where to get started, maybe you should read this book. If you are a pastor that is doing more leading than following, maybe you should read this book. I just could not get into it so I cannot really give it a good review feeling the way I do. My recommendation - the best book every written - THE BIBLE!! That will show you how to be a follower of Jesus!
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Posted April 3, 2012
I’ve felt for some time that something was missing. And it was. The art and value of following. One of the things that makes me the most uncomfortable in any setting is when someone takes something successful and alters it – not for the sake of comedy, but for the sake of cleansing. One example from when I was in high school is the Nike ad campaign of "Play Hard." All of a sudden in every Christian book store "Pray Hard" shirts were all over the place. I believe in the power of athletics and the power of prayer. I also think that this sort of imitation is the stuff of stereotypes and at the same time diminishes the power of both things…especially the imitator (in this case, prayer).
This book pulled me in very quickly and has kept my mind going the whole time. Am I really, truly following Christ or am I applying leadership concepts from the business world I’m enveloped in to my walk with the Creator of everything? It seems that I’ve been doing quite a few things backwards: following the products instead of following Christ. Sweet also makes a very important distinction: Christ asked people to follow him in a way that was inclusive – following meant to be with Him, not stay behind him a do what he said. It’s the difference between traveling the road in step with verses a caravan behind the trailblazer.
After reading this I’ve been taking a pretty hard look at my following skills and how I "lead" within various settings, especially my marriage and family. This book has opened my eyes and stretched my mind and heart. Above all, it has refocused me on my relationship with Christ by providing a different perspective and lens to view it through.
Posted March 22, 2012
I choose books like this to read because I want to understand what it is that has robbed the church of power. I want to understand what needs to change—in the church and in me—in order to experience a Greater Awakening. A wondrous new explosion of Kingdom growth is at hand. Like a tidal wave, it is starting out small, barely noticeable. Soon it will sweep the nations. But first, some things must change. In I Am A Follower, Sweet accurately diagnoses the problem with the "leadership" paradigms that don't produce an advance of the Kingdom and calls for a "follower re-formation". I recommend this book for every Chrisitian, especially those who have ever aspired to be "leaders" for Christ.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2012
I Am A Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus by Leonard Sweet was an interesting book to read. In some areas he challenged my core perceptions of church leadership, in others he educated me on scripture through translating original Hebrew and Greek terms, and through it all he motivated me to be a better follower of Christ- a first follower.
I have to say this book was nothing like I expected. It started off slow for me. I am not a musician or dancer and know little about the arts, so his initial hook to grab my attention fell flat. However, as I turned the pages I found jewel after jewel that kept me wanting more.
There were times I wasn’t sure if I agreed with Leonard and I would have to stop reading and spend time in prayer. By the end, I admit, he managed to transform the way I view certain aspects of Church leadership and followership. I also admire the way he so thoroughly delves into what it means to be a follower of Christ and what disciplining others really entails.
At the end of each section there are Interactive that are useful in helping one expound on their reading/thinking. I believe these are good for a Bible Study group to do together. There are also a few video clips online he directs you to. I am not a huge fan of having to stop reading and go to my computer to watch videos, but I know many people enjoy this. Leonard uses a wide variety of methods to get you thinking and to maintain your attention.
Overall, this book will definitely challenge you and push you to become a truly devoted follower of Christ. I encourage anyone, especially church leaders, to read this book. I’m not sure you will agree with everything, but I believe it will get you thinking and isn’t that the point of reading a book like this… to teach us new things, to challenge/test our core beliefs, to encourage us to be better followers of Christ and to help us mentor those who are new in their walk with God?
Posted February 20, 2012
Leonard Sweet is currently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, Portland, Oregon. Author of more than two hundred articles, over twelve hundred published sermons, and dozens of books, including the Jesus Manifesto.
His latest book, I am a Follower is a leadership book for anyone who has never connected with leadership books. What I mean to say is, it's an anti-leadership book.
As a pastor I read leadership books all of the time, and there are a lot of great ones out there. I also bump into a lot of "leadery leaders" who have the expensive jeans, the goatee and the latest Rick Warren book in their back pocket. I try to go to leadership conferences every so often to see what other leaders are doing - to draw inspiration from leaders and to just bask in the fact that we're all leaders together and isn't being a leader, fun?
Leonard Sweet's book is not about any of that, and yet it's still about leadership, or rather it's about followership. Does the bible really ask us to lead? Or does it tell us to follow? "Leadership is an alien template we have laid on the Bible." I tweeted that quote as soon as I read it. That quote resonated with me to my very core. Why is the church so busy to create leaders, to raise up leaders, to hire leaders when all along, we should be making followers?
Sweet explains in his book what it means to be a "first follower." Someone who takes the initiative to go out into the open, exposed to the world and to begin to follow our Savior the way he asks to be followed. Jesus said, "follow me." He never said study me, or listen to me, or memorize me, or any of the other frames we have used to feign allegiance. Jesus didn't even invite his students to be attached to the Torah, "he invited them to be attached to himself."
Leadership is typically about being front and center, about being looked at, and admired. Leadership is the big chair, the cherry wood desk, the final say, and the loudest voice. Leadership is about privilege, private meetings and private jets. But front and center is not where you will ever find Jesus. In fact the bible says that Jesus often "retreated to lonely places." Whenever fame and fortune were thrust on Jesus, Jesus quickly rejected them. "To find and follow Jesus, we must decentralize our thinking and decenter everything."
I loved this book, not because it "taught" me anything, but because it put words to a theology that I have always felt at my core. Don't get me wrong, I will still go to leadership conferences and I will still read leadership books, but at least now I will remember the real reason why I lead... to create followers of Jesus.
I received this book for free from book sneeze
Posted February 18, 2012
I Am a Follower by Leonard Sweet is a book that tackles the thorny issue of leadership with the Church. For decades now, we have had conferences, books and seminars on how to build better leadership within the Church. We do need leadership but the Church cannot borrow it's leadership sylte from the world, which is what we have done. The Kingdom of God is about the great reversal. In the Kingdom of God, leaders are to be servants. They are to be the least among the brethren. However, in our society, leadership has become a status symbol, one with lots of perks. Leonard Sweet calls us back to the primal understanding of really being a leader....by becoming a follower. We need leaders who will imitate Christ and point others to Christ. Throughout the book, Leonard challenges all believers to learn to be great followers of Jesus. Often referring back to the apostle Paul's challenge to believers to follow him as he follows Christ, he issues the challenge to follow Christ in such a way that others can follow us as an example. Being in full-time ministry now for 20 years as a "leader" I was greatly impacted by this book. It caused me to take a new, fresh look at how I lead others. The whole premise is the call of Jesus to "follow Me." I cringe at some of the leadership movements within the body of Christ today. It saddens me the way that we have almost deified pastors and ministry leaders. If they would read and take to heart Leonard's message then true change could occur and the body of Christ could continue on it's maturity process.
I Am A Follower moves readers:
--from leaders that are over to followers that are among
--from sages and gurus to scouts and guides
--from Saul's armor to David's sling
--from having the right answers to asking the right questions
--from architects to gardeners
I recommend every Christian to read this book. I would highly recommend that all pastors require their staff to read this book and to do an indepth discussion on it. Follow me as I follow Christ .... I am a follower!
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in return for my honest review.
Posted September 8, 2012
No text was provided for this review.