Heavenly Sandpaper: Understanding The Reluctant Follower

There seems to be a fine line between disobedience and independence.  Many times it can be a bit confusing, and everyone’s filter is different.

I have people in my world that I lead that will do what I ask without question as they trust I know what I am talking about.  There are others whom I lead that need to know the why behind the request and then they move forward.  They still trust but they just need to understand.  Others will listen to what I ask, and then get confirmation from someone else.

And then there are those that just do what they want.  These are the ones I call heavenly sandpaper.  They are loved but they just grate on you a bit.

I am like anyone else and do not disqualify myself from any of these categories.  There are times I follow without thought to the end of the spectrum as well and most likely grate on a few people.  Many times I mean well, but get it twisted.  But I would like to think through tenure and maturity I get it more right than wrong.  So what is the deal when people do not trust your leadership?  Here are some thoughts I had.

One big one may be that they don’t know you are in leadership.  Some people will not do what you ask them to do until they ‘know’ you are a leader.  For some they need to see your resume, others just recognize the position and respect it.  But if they think you are just bossing people around and don’t have any authority behind it then they may think, ‘why do I have to listen to you?’

Whether it is myself, or someone I have placed in leadership I find it best to communicate to the team of people I am with that ‘this’ person has been given ‘this’ responsibility and ‘speaks’ for me.  It tends to help many and make it easier for that person to lead.  And another good one is to check myself to make sure I am in leadership before I take a leader role.

Some people have been hurt by authority figures.  I know I have, and if there is a hurt there it can look like disobedience (and it may be just that) or perhaps a guarded reaction to a past hurt.  The bottom line is that hurt people hurt people and it is hard to work with.  But hopefully you can rebuild trust as their leader for past hurts.  I know I have been hurt by authority figures in my life and my forgiveness of the offense and/or hurt was the catalyst to trust others again and heal.

There are also some that have never been taught to respect authority.  Maybe they had parents who taught them to question everything, or they didn’t have to listen to anyone but them (their parents).  I don’t know about you but I have seen it.  My kids are teens now but I saw it at grade school level, those kids who thought they didn’t have to listen to anyone for one reason or another.  Those kids where the teacher breaks open the bubbly when they graduate out of their class.  Yes they move on, grow up and become adults that feel they don’t have to listen to anyone as well.  You may find they have difficulty doing anything in life because they don’t respect those in authority.  They either need to learn or continue to make the same mistakes.

There are many times when I don’t want to listen and/or respect authority.  I may not understand.  But what I also need to remember is that they may have information that I don’t have and I don’t need to know.  But what I also need to remember that their authority is given and it is my job to follow.  This is one of the greatest qualities of a good leader as well.

One trusted leadership team in my world are Philip & Holly Wagner (www.philipwagner.com) (www.GodChicks.com) here in LA who lead well as they direct those at Oasis Church.  (www.oasisla.org)  They are great example of leaders leading with a limp as they are not perfect, but good leaders.  They are real and this is the final point of that leader that you want to follow, you see their life and how they walk it out but they are not trying to pretend they are perfect as this is a falsehood.  In turn they look happy and like their life; as a great life is filled with purpose and imperfection mixed with a lot of laughter.  That is a win by any measure worth emulating.


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