I have been Executive Pastor at Renovatus for all of six months and feel fairly unqualified at this point in my career to impart inspiring leadership lessons. However, in racking my brain over what to blog about, I realized that what I do have is a lifetime of experience in following. I also happen to think that concept of followership is an understated precursor to leading well, so maybe it is a good place to start!
My all-time favorite TV show is The West Wing. Fortunately for me, Pastor Jonathan knows the show well and appreciates (or at least tolerates) the unending references to it that I make on a regular basis. There is a scene from the show that sums up the roles of the Lead Pastor and the Executive Pastor at Renovatus well, I think, or at least it does for me! The Deputy Chief of Staff says to the President of the United States in a particularly poignant moment, “You know what the difference is between you and me? You wanna be the guy. I wanna be the guy the guy counts on.”
I’ve never aspired to be “The Guy.” It is of absolutely no interest to me in any context, really. I always want to be “the guy that the guy counts on.” (This is one of the reasons my current occupation is like living the dream!) I’m guessing growing up as the daughter of a Brigadier General might have played a part in some of this. Honor and respect were non-negotiable in my house. We placed a high premium on dependability and integrity. And naturally I developed a profound respect for uniting under one vision, for trusting in a chain of command, for following the leader. Orders are not optional and commands aren’t up for consideration. In the military, these principles literally protect lives and protect the mission. And while it is an imperfect analogy, it still translates into our context of church leadership. Do you take seriously the ministry you have been called to? Do you recognize the high stakes of what it means to actually be the church?
If so, I implore you: Strive to be the guy that the guy counts on, no matter what your ambition or calling. Follow your leaders. Trust in God’s lordship over your own life and over their lives, as well. They will not lead flawlessly, but extend the same grace given to you when you do not follow flawlessly.
Follow your leaders as they follow Christ (I Cor 11:1). Follow in such a way that inspires and empowers others to follow you.
Tracey Rouse is Executive Pastor of Renovatus: A Church for People Under Renovation.