Posts Tagged ‘followers’


You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain,but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery,but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

Leaders are sometimes schizophrenic individuals whose orientation is split (hence the term) between the ideals they feel passionate about and the reputation they are trying to manage. If a leader is not able to play well into the affections, anxieties, or aspirations of others, there likely won’t be any followers to lead. And a leader without followers isn’t a leader at all.

For his part, the apostle Paul felt called to a mission of spreading the gospel across the Gentile world, which was an ideal and purpose that carried significant risk. The Jewish center of the Christian movement, located in Jerusalem, was not entirely sympathetic to his mission, since he tended to downplay traditional Jewish customs and convictions in the interest of adapting Christianity to the Graeco-Roman worldview and way of life. Not a few times, Paul had to defend his platform to the other apostles, claiming that his version of the gospel was every bit as valid as theirs on authority of his special appointment by the risen Jesus himself.

With success came notoriety, and in the wake of notoriety gathered the fans, sycophants, and stalkers that are typically drawn to celebrity leaders. Such followers aren’t necessarily the best thing for a leader, and for two reasons. First, the only thing that many of them want is the rub-off of charisma and popularity that comes with celebrity contact. They don’t really understand or care to contribute to the leader’s cause, only to bask in his or her glory (and maybe photo-bomb the paparazzi).

Secondly, an enthusiastic fan base can actually interfere with a leader’s genuine attempts at clarifying the deeper truth of his or her cause. Because they are more interested in sensation than sacrifice, such followers are more like adherents than disciples, content with just a bowl of warm milk set before them. When the harder edge of truth is presented and a real demand is made, they will quickly distract themselves with some irrelevancy or quietly exit the back door.