Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8 NKJV)
One of my favorite coaches is Bill Parcels. He is a great leader who has turned around several NFL teams. He has enjoyed the personal success of winning two Super Bowls and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But more impressive is the success of his followers. Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and Sean Payton all served under Parcels and were all given opportunities to be head coaches. All three of these coaches have gone on to win Super Bowls: Belichick (3), Coughlin (2), and Payton (1). Good followers like these coaches embrace the instruction and molding provided by their leaders.
In Ephesians 6 Paul stresses the importance of servants following well. He reveals how following well, even when the leader isn’t around, is representative of our service to Christ. In our world of managers and employees or leaders and staff members, the ability to follow well is an indicator of leadership potential. Great leaders are first great followers.
People who follow well exhibit respect for authority and buy-in to the leader’s vision. Leaders know they can trust these followers and may exercise that trust by delegating greater responsibilities to them. This benefits the leader because it increases their overall reach and influence. It benefits the follower by giving them tangible experiences. As the leader experiences more success, those who follow well will be given their own opportunities to lead.
Paul says “knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:8 NKJV) If we serve well, we will in turn be served well. If we support our leaders and make our teams successful, the same will happen for us when it’s our time to lead. If we follow our leaders well, we will find our efforts will make both the leader and ourselves successful.
How can following your leader contribute to your personal success?