RECENTLY, a newsmagazine observed that instead of needing better leaders, perhaps the country actually needs better followers. I got to thinking, why can't we have better leaders and better followers--in all areas of society.
Although I try to be a follower of Christ Jesus, the article prompted me to ask, ''Am I as good a follower as I think I am?'' Not surprisingly, the answer was ''Perhaps not.'' But, when we make a wholehearted effort to grow in our faithfulness--to do a better job of following him each day--we cannot help but become better leaders and followers in every aspect of our lives!
Christ Jesus was not one to thrust himself into positions or situations where God had not placed him. And he never held back from doing his God-appointed tasks. His uniqueness in showing us the way of true goodness is shown by his unparalleled record of healing. He never deviated from the working of God's purpose. Yet his enemies resented his willingness to obey God, whom he called his Father, and dogged him with accusations that he was puffing himself up and ''making himself equal with God.'' To this, Jesus said, ''Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise'' (John 5:18, 19).
Doesn't this explanation of the source of Jesus' ability to obey God also provide us with the foundation for being followers of Christ Jesus? Jesus calls God ''Father'' many, many times in the New Testament. Because God, Spirit, is the creator of man, each of us is the spiritual offspring of God. Perhaps the most important point to understand about Jesus was his unshakable love and worship of God as his creator. From what the Bible shows us that he said and did, he looked to God for every thought, for every motive, for every course of action.
If we are to follow Jesus, we must look to God as the source of our individual identity. Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says in this book: ''The individuality of man is no less tangible because it is spiritual and because his life is not at the mercy of matter. The understanding of his spiritual individuality makes man more real, more formidable in truth, and enables him to conquer sin, disease, and death'' (p. 317).
The Bible tells us how the Apostle Paul learned a lesson in following--and leading. When personal ego ruled his life, he pursued, and even killed the followers of Christ Jesus, thinking he was doing the right thing. But when he became humble before Christ, he was freed from the rule of personal egotism. Then he grew into a follower of Christ Jesus and a respected Christian leader.
Jesus left clear guidelines for those who would be good followers. He pointed to the necessity of following the law left by Moses. So, to follow Christ Jesus, we must obey the Commandments lovingly and willingly. In addition, Jesus urged meekness and humility as the proper attitudes toward others and toward ourselves. He told us to keep ourselves free from the worldliness that can make cares and concerns seem so oppressive. He showed that forgiveness and mercy, as well as gratitude and grace, are daily requirements for a godly life.
When you follow Christ Jesus in this way, you, too, become a healer. Your healing work may be modest compared to that of this unique man, but its spiritual origin is the same. The healing to be done includes both physical diseases and moral ills; it includes business problems as well as human relationships.
One result of growth in an ability to be a follower of Christ Jesus is an appreciation of good in others. This starts with more respect for ourselves, of course, but soon spreads to a deeper love for family and fellow workers. Community and national figures simply can't be excluded from this circle of love and goodness, either.
In our communities, in our church and civic organizations, in our businesses and governmental organizations, someone must take up the work of leadership. Just as necessary, of course, is the work of ''followership.'' Good followers of Christ Jesus will naturally be good leaders and followers in everything else they do!