Five years ago, I wrote a post called “Follow the leader or Simon says?” In the post, I compared the two children’s games “Follow the leader” and “Simon says.” Believe it or not, both children’s games have leaders, but the leader in one game functions quite differently than the leader in the other game. I one of these games is a good example of how “leaders” should function among the church, while the other game is a good example of how “leaders” often function today among the church… unfortunately.
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.