Introduction: “Lead, follow or get out of the way” is a saying
attributed to Thomas Paine, a “founding father” of the United States.
If I gave you the choice of those three, how many would choose
“follow?” I suspect not many. Most like to lead or go their own way.
Our lesson this week is about following. What does it mean to be a
disciple of God? Is it the traditional kind of follower? Or, is this
a follower who also gets to lead? Let’s dive into the Bible and find
- Body of Followers
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:27. What does being a part of the
body of Christ have to do with discipleship? (When we
follow Jesus, we have a part to play in the work.
Interestingly, our work as a disciple is compared to a
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:28. Which of these roles are the
“leadership” roles? (“Apostle” and “administrator” sound
like leaders of some sort.)
- Who are the followers in this group? (That is not so
easy to tell, right? I suppose “helpers” would
likely be followers in some sense.)
- Why is the leader and follower question difficult to
answer? Why would God fail to make this obvious?
- Why does the Bible compare the church to a body
instead of an army or a nation? (Because the line
between follower and leader is not very clear. In an
army or a nation, you have a few leaders and the rest
follow. But, except for the fact that God is our
leader, the church looks like something quite
different. I think this is exactly why God used the
example of a body instead of an army to illustrate
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:20-21. How does the church
operate when it comes to leaders and followers?
(Instead of a clear leader/follower arrangement, we
find a coordinated effort in which every part is
essential. Everyone is important. Everyone has a
critical part. Thomas Paine did not have the church
- Learning Leaders
- Read Exodus 18:13. Were the people happy with this
situation? (They came to Moses. However, the statement
that they “stood around … from morning to evening” might
reflect slow service.)
- Was Moses happy with this situation? (What better
line of work than to speak for God! However, he
worked long hours.)
- Read Exodus 18:17. Are these the words Moses expected to
hear? Wasn’t he doing a great deal of good speaking for
God and helping his nation?
- Read Exodus 18:18-23. How would you react to Jethro’s
(your father-in-law’s) advice if you were Moses? After
all, it was you who God spoke to, not him. Why would you
pay attention to him when you speak for God?
- Notice Exodus 18:19. Is Jethro clarifying Moses’
work? (Yes. He says Moses’ role should be to go to
God for the people, not decide for God. This is a
subtle correction. This signals that Moses is getting
to believe too much in his own importance, when
others can do much of what Moses does.)
- Notice Exodus 18:23. What is Jethro saying? (He says
that God needs to confirm his advice.)
- What do we learn about discipleship in this story so
far? (This is another example of the “body” principle
of leadership – that instead of acting alone, Moses
needs to rely on others to help him with his
important work. Important work needs to be spread
around to other capable people.)
- Read Exodus 18:24-26. What good thing do we learn about
Moses as a leader? (That even though he seems to be
getting a little carried away with self-importance, he
takes advice. He shows humility in accepting and
implementing good advice.)
- What does this teach us about organization? (Running
a proper “body structure” requires organization.
Distributing duties, picking competent people, and
keeping God as the head of the program are key.)
- Servant Leaders
- Read Matthew 20:20-21. Just reading these two verses, what
do you think should be the answer? (What kind of future
leaders send “mom” to do their most important business?)
- Read Matthew 20:22. Is Mom a ventriloquist? What is this
“we can” answer? (Not only did the sons send mom, but they
are standing around listening in on the conversation!)
- What do you think about the sons’ answer? (Jesus just
told them they do not know what they are asking, and
they (still deep in ignorance) answer “We can.” The
perfect leaders – weak and too dumb to listen!)
- Read Matthew 20:23. Who decides on the leadership of the
church? (God. Jesus gives a polite answer, but makes the
point God the Father will make these decisions.)
- Read Matthew 20:24. Why were they unhappy? Because their
mothers were not aggressive enough? Because they did not
think to ask first? Because they don’t want to follow,
they want to lead?
- Read Matthew 20:25-28. What kind of disciple/leader does
Jesus require? (A servant leader. What a strange concept:
a leader who uses authority to help others, not help
- These words are a pivotal moment in the history of
the modern world. The leading political thinkers of
the past, Plato and Aristotle, had this idea that
there were a few superior men who should be the
leaders and the rest should serve them for the
greater good. Jesus says the leaders should serve
the masses. (“Whoever wants to be first must be your
slave.”) It is from this teaching that we get the
“public servant” idea which is central to American
- Our lesson is not about forms of secular government.
What is the lesson for church leadership today?
- What is the lesson for you?
- Read Mark 8:34-38. What does it mean to take up our cross?
- Read Matthew 11:28-30. I think Jesus’ “yoke” is
essentially the same as His “cross.” How can it be
“light” when it sounds so difficult and terrible?
(Serving only your own self interest gets boring.
Serving others makes a more interesting and blessed
life. It sounds awful to give up our life, but God
not only gives us eternal life in exchange (good
trade!), but He makes helping others a “light” yoke.)
- Read Matthew 7:21. Have you heard the expression “big hat,
no cattle?” What do you think it means? (Someone who plays
the part of being a cowboy, but has no cattle – has no
- Is that what Jesus means here? (It seems that Jesus
says these people just talk, they do not do.)
- Read Matthew 7:22-23. Wait a minute, these people have a
lot of deeds. How do you explain that Jesus rejects them
when they have deeds? (The key is that Jesus says “I never
knew you.” The will of God the Father is that we know
Jesus. This is the primary work of a disciple. If we do
not know Jesus, then our works are misdirected.)
- Friend, does this adequately paint a picture of
discipleship? The true disciple knows God and where he
fits in the work of the church. The true disciple has the
goal of helping – not the goal of self-glory. If your
attitude is not right, will you ask the Holy Spirit to
change it today? If you are not serving the church in
some way, will you pray that God will show you how to
- Next week: Stewardship.