A number of people in this present age will not like to become followers to any fellow man because ‘it is not an easy thing and also comes with its price’.
Could it be a matter of mistrust? Perhaps, many had vowed never to serve under anyone because of the possibility of being taken for granted by the leaders(s). Of truth, a lot of the so called leaders had, also, taken leadership to another dimension – to the point of manipulating their followers (for their selfish desires); encroaching on the rights of their followers; and/or over supervising the followers as if without their(leaders) inputs – a project, task or assignments will not be accomplished.
While this article focuses, primarily, on followership – it will, also, touch on the misconception of leadership (purposely) to strike a balance between the leaders and their followers.
Followership as preparatory stage for leadership
Just like apprenticeship, if anyone would become a leader in a well established institution – it is expected that such person should grow through the lines of authority (as available) in each situation, unless there is no established progressions like the following: Messenger –} Personal Assistant –} Project Manager –} Head of Department –} Managing Director –} Board Chairman.
Such level of growth enhances competencies on the job – guaranteeing success as a result of the wealth of experience at the disposal of such person that grow through the available hierarchy of leadership.
The same thing applied to the emergence of Joshua after the death of Moses. Narrating the appointment of Joshua, Matthew Oshibanjo in his book ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE LEADERSHIP STYLE OF MOSES AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CHURCH TODAY says:
Joshua is another example… After the death of Moses, God called him to take over the leadership of the people of Israel, with the promise of His presence and the book of the law as guarantee for the success of the new leader (Josh 1:8). A number of elements… deserve delineation.
First of all, Joshua was called to the task that he faced. He was not seeking to advance himself in the ranks of Israel. He had been around for a long time and had held various subordinate positions of authority…
A second important feature is that Joshua had paid the price of preparation. This man who heard the call of God had been “Moses’ minister”… While God prepared Moses alone in a remote area of the desert, He chose to prepare Joshua in a constant apprenticeship situation, so that his command over the people of Israel in a very real sense would be an extension of Jehovah’s work through Moses.
From the above, we could see how important, necessary is followership to the ascension of anyone who will be effective (in leadership).
Bone of contention: views expressed herein are subjective
A follower breaking away from his/her leaders is not a thing of this century: it is, only, a recurring event which its stem has not been nip-in-the-bud.
Could anyone blame a follower that breaks away from his/her leader? No way: this is because followership is not synonymous to slavery. As such, every follower has the freedom to choose to remain with a leader or break away from him/her.
Even slaves will break away when pushed against the wall through maltreatment. The Republic of Rome since around 153BC got a lot to say about Slave Revolt. At that time, Rome was so powerful that they conquered cities anyhow – putting the captives to all forms of work including gladiatorial.
However, a single slave, Spartacus (who was full of war strategy) and bitterness against Rome waged the Third Servile War that resulted to heavy casualties from the Romans. It should, therefore, be noted that if common slaves (because their lives meant nothing to their owners) could stand against the Republic of Rome for days, how much would a free thinker follower stand against irresponsible leadership?
Many times, follower’s revolt is what many people speak against without trying to unravel what the leadership may have done wrong: no matter how submissive a follower is, an insensitive leadership will (definitely) drive him/her away or cause the follower to revolt.
Furthermore, no follower will (forever) endure a leadership that denigrates him/her – under no circumstances. Unfortunately, some unsecured leaders use that so much to intimidate their followers; thankfully, followers have got their minds to think and make choices: they are not zombies.
What happens when there is a good leadership/followership relationship?
This will, simply, be a symbiotic relationship: a situation in which the leadership will depend on the ability of the followership to get things done and in which the followership depends on the leadership ability to provide guidance, motivation, development oriented tasks among others.
As a matter of fact, the Bible encourages a cordial relationship between a servant and his master, only that I have avoided to use such terms since. Even, if leadership and followers are compared to master’s and slave’s relationship – it does not mean that followers are slaves or servants while leaders are masters. No way!
However, let us look at what the Holy Scriptures says:
“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
“Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven”. Col 3:22-5; 4:1, NKJV.
When the kind of relationship (above) exists between leadership/followership, I can say (in affirmative) that no one will do things for self gratification: rather, everyone will consider the others (in love) before doing a thing that is capable of affecting the lives of people.
Thus, in Rom 12:9-11, the Bible says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”.
I will, therefore, conclude that when leadership recognises the sacrifice that followership makes and accorded the due respect; the follower(s) will be glad to go all the way with the leader(s).
If you doubted the assertion above, please, try it out and see the results that your trial will generate.
 Matthew Oshibanjo, ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE LEADERSHIP STYLE OF MOSES AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR THE CHURCH TODAY (Lagos, Nigeria: ayodele-niyi comm.press, 2016) 40, 41.