the weblog of Alan Knox

Follow the leader or Simon says?

Posted by on Sep 7, 2007 in elders, service | 12 comments

I’m working on a series about the role and function of elders among a community of believers. I’ve discussed leadership on this blog before, and those posts usually generate great discussions both online and off-line. I hope to begin publishing that series next week, but I may have to push it back another week. As I study, the series keeps expanding.

As I was thinking about the relationship between elders and leading, I thought about two children’s games: “Follow the leader” and “Simon says”.

In the game “Follow the leader”, children follow the actions of a “leader”. If the “leader” walks, then the others walk. If the “leader” runs, the the others run. The “leader” is doing everything as an example for others to “follow”. But, the important point here is that the “leader” is doing – he or she is active. The other children in line follow the example of the “leader’s” actions.

In the game “Simon says”, children follow the directions of a “leader”. If the “leader” says, “Walk”, then the others walk. If the “leader” says, “Run”, then the others run. The “leader” is not active. Instead, the “leader” tells the others what to do. The other children do not follow the example of the “leader’s” actions. Instead, the other children are supposed to follow the commands of the “leader”.

I think many churches are built around “Simon says” type leadership, while Jesus points to “Follow the leader” type leadership. In fact, there is only one “Simon” for the follower of Jesus Christ. And, while Jesus alone possesses the authority to command, he chose to come as a “Follow the leader” type leader.

We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.


12 Comments

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  1. 9-7-2007

    Alan,

    Isn’t it great that Jesus acted out everything he taught? What a wonderful example we have.

    His washing of the disciples’ feet during the Last Supper provides us with just an amazing example of servanthood. If God Himself can wash stinking feet, then we should be willing to serve others even when it is uncomfortable.

    I think I need to do a bit less thinking (although that is important), and more serving.

    Eric

  2. 9-8-2007

    Alan,

    Great comparison. Looking forward to the series.

    I can be brief!

  3. 9-8-2007

    Thanks Alan.

    my experience has been that it is often more follow me model, do what I do – in other words the leader is a doer as well and expects peole to do as he does. So they might use their authority as in simom says but since they are going that way do they are kinda expecting people to follow them as well.

    The problem i have seen occurs when people are no longer sure they want to follow – they have reached a point where they want to lead for instance or have a different idea about the direction to go…

  4. 9-8-2007

    Eric,

    More serving is definitely in order. Thank you!

    Aussie John,

    I was hoping for one of your excellent stories.

    Paul,

    You’re right. There are many ways that believers can respond properly or improperly to leadership. The church is all of us and requires all of us working together – leader or not. Thanks for the comment.

    -Alan

  5. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  6. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  7. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  8. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  9. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  10. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  11. 9-8-2007

    Alan-
    “We need more examples to follow, and less Simons to obey.”
    So-o-o true!!!
    Eric-
    The concept of a servant-leader is novel in today’s culture. I guess it was in Jesus’ culture, too.
    In response to Paul-
    Perhaps following the actions of the leader may mean only meeting his expectations that we duplicate his style or methods. When leaders expect clones of themselves, they are not really leading. They are dictating. They are pointing people to themselves and not to Christ. And they are not an authentic representation of Jesus.
    A Biblical leader is, first of all, a follower himself. If the leader doesn’t seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, he has no business “Simon-ing” others.
    I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Alan. Thank you for initiating it.
    Kat

  12. 9-9-2007

    Kat,

    Thank you for the comment and for adding to our discussion here. This post is not part of my series on elders. That series won’t start for another week (or so).

    -Alan