Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia:                                                                                    The Character of Leadership in Prince Caspian
          There much talk today about leadership in the church. Too much talk in my opinion. Emphasis on leadership skills and competencies obscures what is truly crucial and underemphasized about “leadership.” Leonard Sweet[1] hits the nail on the head:
Text Box: “The cry for leadership is deafening amid our social disintegration, our moral disorientation. We have come to believe that we have a leadership crisis while all along we have been in a drought of discipleship. The Jesus paradox is that only Christians lead by following.” 
 “To emphasize followership is not to eliminate the notion that we need leaders. It is to flush the definition, concepts, and practices of flesh-based leadership down the sewer they came from. Leadership within a followership culture is a totally different animal than leadership within a leadership culture. It comes from the kingdom of God, with one and only one Lord.” 

              








Followership, as opposed to leadership, is based in a realistic view of ourselves. Aslan has a wonderful comment near the end of PC that is directly on point here. When Caspian laments his Telmarine heritage, Aslan corrects him: “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve… And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”[2]
Miraz, the usurper, was a leader using his skills and competencies to build up and consolidate his unjust rule. Given who we are to take charge of things based on our own resources usually goes bad. Oh, we can call those resources “gifts,” if we like. But whenever we operate out of a sense of our own abilities the ground beneath us grows quite slippery.
Text Box: Depending on the translation, at the very most, “leader” is used only six times in the New Testament, while the word “servant” can be found over two hundred times. We should be asking why those of us who have a calling to serve the church obsess so much more over leadership than servantship. Jesus said, “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). If we honestly want to be like Jesus—if we honestly want to follow Jesus—we will pursue servantship rather than leadership. We will work to become the greatest servants we can be.






Lance Ford[3] writes:
Caspian demonstrates what Ford calls “servantship” or Sweet “followership” when he is about to take up the kingship of Narnia: “’Welcome, Prince,’ said Aslan. ‘Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?’  ‘I— I don’t think I do, Sir,’ said Caspian. ‘I’m only a kid.’ ‘Good,’ said Aslan. ‘If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not. Therefore, under us and under the High King, you shall be King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands.’”
I submit Caspian has it right. He demonstrates the “followership” entailed by those called by Jesus and gifted to play certain roles in the church. He does not depend on himself or express confidence in his ability to do the job. Aslan affirms Caspian’s dependency on him and his ongoing leadership of the young king. That’s the biblical notion of what we like to call “leadership” and it is far different than how we often think of it.
May Caspian the follower become our model of “leadership” in the church!


[1] Leonard Sweet, I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus (Thomas Nelson, 2012), 21, 39.
[2] PC, 218.
[3] Lance Ford, Unleader: Reimagining Leadership...and Why We Must (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012)

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