This is the eighth of several posts written by some of my top Small Group Communication students at Azusa Pacific University. They’ve been learning all about what makes groups and teams great, and I’ve selected just a few excellent posts that will benefit my readers. Enjoy!
By Katie FitzPatrick, Junior Communication Studies Major
“Be a leader not a follower.”
“The key to effective leadership is…”
“Become a great leader in five easy steps!”
The importance of being a leader has been ingrained in our society. Numerous seminars, honor societies, and conferences promote good leadership skills. Church ministries hold training days to equip their members to be effective leaders. But in our quest to become “the ultimate leaders,” are we missing out on what we have been uniquely created and called to do?
In Matthew 16, Jesus gives criteria for being a disciple of his: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus is telling us that in order to be a servant of the Lord, we must be following Him. Since we are called to lives of followership, why aren’t we training and educating ourselves to be better at it?
In ministry, we have placed abundant emphasis on creating good leaders, but more often than not we are placed in positions were good followership is needed. If we begin honing our skills as followers, we can be more effective in the work we are doing for the Kingdom. Communication scholars Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson* offer some suggestions to help us become better followers in our groups and teams.
- Take the initiative to actively solve problems. If you see an issue in your ministry team, don’t sit around and wait for someone else to handle it—take initiative!
- Possess experience in what they are doing. It’s important to learn from others and gain knowledge and experience before taking the front reigns on a project. If you don’t have experience, work on getting some before you’re in the hot seat.
- Approach conflict with openness. Let go of the notion that conflict is evil. Conflict is healthy, and must be present in order for change and growth to occur.
- Show support to the “formal” leader and other team members. Be a follower that encourages the leader and others you are serving with. This will help create unity among your team.
- Orient themselves for action. A ministry can’t thrive unless people are willing to put in the time and energy.
- Employ a positive personal style. Know your strengths and spiritual gifts and work to strengthen them to grow more effective in your work.
Take the time to further develop these qualities of followership. By doing so, you will not only benefit yourself, but your ministry as well.
*Check out When Teams Work Best, for more details on these ideas.