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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?
By Bud Hancock


Many years ago, I heard the statement: “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” and, even though I cannot recall the context in which it was presented, it made a significant impact on me. The saying is generally attributed to US General George Patton at some point during World War II, but it may actually have a different origin. General Patton was a brilliant military strategist whose leadership had a major impact on many battles in the European theater of WW II, but he was also one of the most controversial military leaders of that war. He sometimes created great problems for himself by “shooting from the lip” (think speaking the truth, but without any political correctness involved). His lack of political subtlety caused him to be passed over for several important commands. In any case, he was undeniably one of the greatest military figures in recent US history. He had little use for politics, politicians or anyone who catered to the whims of such. But, he was the quintessential military leader who knew that there is no substitute for victory. He knew that great leadership is the key to victory in any military conflict.

It has been said that most of the men under Patton’s command would follow him anywhere, without question. What made these men want to follow General Patton’s leadership? In fact, a greater question can be asked: What exactly is a ‘leader’? Patton had a certain element in his makeup that caused others to want to follow him and achieve military victory. I believe that element was total confidence in, and a passion for, the goal of all true military leaders: Victory. Another great US military leader, five-star General Douglas MacArthur believed as did Patton, and was quoted as saying: “In war, there is no substitute for victory”.

What is Leadership?

What are some specific qualities that all leaders should possess, and should these same qualities apply to Christian, as well as, secular leaders? The first thing that makes a person a leader is to possess the leadership qualities necessary for people to desire, and have a willingness, to follow them to the desired victory. A person who desires to be a leader but cannot get people to follow him or her is lacking the basic attributes and characteristics of leadership. On the other hand, a person gifted with the qualities of leadership will have followers without having to seek them out. As stated previously, confidence in the rightness of goal being sought is a necessary quality, but there is another, more important quality: that of being willing to set an example for those who would follow. Setting such an example will not always be a glorious undertaking and can cause much pain, and even death, since it involves getting very close to the real action.

I’ve heard some leaders described as ‘fearless’, but I really doubt the truth of that statement. In battle, there is likely to be some benefit to fear, since it sharpens the senses, makes the adrenalin flow and allows the human body to function more effectively. I do believe that bravery and courage overcome the fear that a leader experiences while leading troops into battle. The Meriam-Webster Dictionary defines bravery as: (1) “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty”, and (2) Courage-“showing bravery under fire”. So we see that, similar to bravery, having courage is defined as having the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”.

I would then say that bravery and courage are qualities every leader must have in order to inspire the same in all those who follow him or her. Unfortunately, we seem to think we have no bra very, or courage and thus have no leadership qualities. But, those qualities most often are seen only when a person is exposed to the situation, such as danger and fear, which then releases them and causes leadership qualities to surface.

How Important is Leadership In The Church?

From the military perspective, leadership is paramount in building and maintaining a strong, efficient army. An army with weak, ineffective leaders will seldom experience victory in any battle.

But, how important is leadership in the Church, the Body of Christ? Jesus is the Head of The Body, comparable to the President of the United States being the Commander-in-Chief of our military. Just as the POTUS doesn’t lead our troops into battle, Jesus is not physically on earth, leading His Body in the Great Commission, the battle to save souls and build up the Body for him. He designates leaders, those who are called by Him into the five areas of ministry, that of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. When you see a strong, successful leader in the Christian ministry, you can be assured that he was called to, and anointed for, that position by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. God makes no mistakes, His choices for those positions are always right, and according to the Word, they are without repentance, meaning He does not change His mind about the calling.

There are more than the five callings listed in the ‘five-fold ministry’. Some of those who have recognized the calling to ministry in their lives may be anointed and ordained as pastors, or shepherds of a flock. The role of pastor is critical in maintaining the safety and the quality of a growing flock. Some others may be called as evangelists, or the persons who must go out into the world to seek and find those who are lost, just as Jesus preached. They also are very important and, without them, millions of saved persons would already be in hell, awaiting eternal judgment. Evangelists are expected to not only, evangelize the world, but guide the newly saved toward a shepherd in order for them to have a place where they can be taught and grow in the word. The teacher must be so grounded in God’s word that he will never knowingly misrepresent biblical doctrine. Many great pastors also are excellent teachers and do double duty. The role of prophet is little known today or even considered necessary in the ministry, since the canon of scripture is settled and printed in nearly every language known to man. Albeit, there may still be a need for a person, called by God as a prophet to do what so many pf the Old testament prophets did: Bring knowledge of sinful actions or situations to the attention of the Church. The same is true of the role of Apostle. The original disciples of Christ were sent as apostles, or ‘special messengers of God’ into many areas specifically to start churches and begin the building of the Body of Christ where they were sent.

Other Important Leaders

But, are there other leadership roles that are necessary and valuable in today’s world? I believe so, and they could have names such as “Pray-er”. I have known people who had a calling to ‘pray without ceasing’, to be ready on a moment’s notice to hit their knees as a specific need became known. They have an amazing spiritual ability to connect with the Father in heaven and get results due to the way that they pray, not so much as for the fact they can “pray long. One of the most famous men of God from the past century, Smith Wigglesworth, when asked about his prayer life said: “ I never pray longer than 15 minutes, but I never go more than 15 minutes without praying.” Wow, this is the character of a man who is almost constantly in touch with heaven. These are some of the most neglected ‘leaders’ in the Body of Christ. They live their lives mostly unknown to others, sometimes even in their own families. But, God knows who they are and will reward them accordingly.

Where are the Leaders?

We are living in the most extraordinary times I have seen ion my nearly 80 years on this earth. Consider this; you walk into the same room you have entered for weeks or months, you flip the light switch on and the room is flooded with light. That’s the way it should work, but over time, light bulbs grow dimmer with age and eventually, you flip that switch and you see no light. The Church, The Body of Christ, was meant to be the light of this world. But, The Body of Christ, has seen its light diminishing at an ever-increasing pace. Light always displaces darkness, always has, always will. When you witness an increase in darkness, the light is NOT doing its job. Without the Church, this would indeed be a very dark world, and indeed it seems to get darker every day. While a light bulb works on a physical law that determines what the electricity does when it passes through a filament, the Church should be always connected to God through His Spirit, and that connection keeps the light flowing. Unlike the light bulb, the Church needs leadership to continue moving in the right direction, and keeping the power flowing, providing the light to the world.

When I was a young boy, I remember the voices of the greatest evangelists of that time, the Billy Grahams, the Oral Roberts, and many others, but I also remember the pastors of the various churches I attended when growing up. For the most part, they were spiritually strong men who were unafraid to publicly stand up and speak out about the bad events, the evil if you will, that was occurring then. They did not care that people would revile them and curse them, because they knew who they served and were totally unafraid of the naysayers and wicked people. At times, there was even opposition in the local churches who did not want to be told about ‘evil’ and would try to silence the pastors, sometimes by threatening to leave the church and take their tithes with them.

I also remember large ministries who stood publicly and spoke strongly about the abominations we now see accepted in some churches and even celebrated in others, the abominations that God said in His word that He hated. The true leaders know God and His word and were not afraid to speak exactly what the word of God says. Now, however, many large ministries have become little more than huge ‘revenue streams’, a constant flow of money that allows to live like kings. I have a hard time believing that this is what God intended, or expected, from those He called and equipped to be His ‘leaders’.

Apostasy, a turning away from the Truth, is now more commonplace in many churches than is even a minimal belief in the Holy Scriptures. It almost appears that seminaries and theological institutes are teaching a ‘foreign message’ and not actually equipping the so-called leaders to go out into the world and make disciples of men by teaching them what our Lord said, and His apostles have written for our exhortation.

So, What is Next?

I am no prophet, so I cannot say, and will not try to guess, what we will witness next in a world that is becoming ever darker, more evil and more under the control of people with no conscience. I personally believe that we are so close to the rapture of the Church, The Body of Christ, that we may not witness much more while here on this earth in these bodies, but we may be closer than any of us think to seeing it all transpire from a heavenly viewpoint. Just between you and me, I hope that is the case, and I close with:

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!


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