Leaders, Followers, and The Mob Mentality, Part 2

Read Part 1

While I hold to my convictions (and sometimes snobbery) on certain movements (I will never understand waiting in line for hours to see any movie at midnight), I find an abundance of examples proving that mobs can sometimes follow exceedingly good and worthwhile things. For instance, I’ve been simultaneously reading Marla Cilley’s Sink Reflections and Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, both of which are enormously popular, but also, I think, pretty valuable: they offer advice, support, and coaching for improving one’s life.

flylady

Thanks to the “FlyLady,” Marla Cilley, I’m learning more effective ways to de-clutter my house, and because of Gretchen Rubin’s chapter on aiming higher in one’s work (chapter 3), I woke up this morning with ambitions (which I promptly wrote down) to start an actual author website in 2014.happiness project

The Downside of “Good” Mobs, from a Leader Perspective 

There is something funny that happens when I find a guru I admire, though, and maybe this is because I am a leader-type, not a follower: I get jealous of him or her. Rather than just taking the advice for what it is, I wish I had been the one to give said advice. Rather than just browsing Gretchen Rubin’s website and rejoicing over all the great tips she’s giving me, I start to feel pressured to match the greatness of her website. This is a particularly insidious part of being a leader (or the type of leader that I am) because I feel this insecurity not only when I observe “greats” in my lines of work (writing, teaching, blogging), but I feel it when I see almost anyone doing any job well.

This tendency to lust after other people’s talents hurts me more than I’m sure I want to know: Chiefmost, and rather ironically, it derails me from carrying out any task well. When I start admiring someone else’s work too much in the context of wishing I had done that—or thinking, “Maybe I should go get training for that”—I get distracted from what I’m really supposed to do.

For Example…

When I was newly married and trying to decide on a career path, my older brother came to visit us. I hadn’t seen him for almost a year, but when I saw him that time, I was struck with how “religious” he had gotten, and a what a great life path he had taken—he had attended a Bible college that trained him to lead Bible studies and prepare the way for evangelistic series—and I started to feel guilty that I needed to be doing the same thing. The problem was, I was a married woman now, rooted to a definite geographical location: I wasn’t a single person who could just up and just go anywhere for college, or, for that matter, be an itinerant traveler for my work after college (like he had become). As confused as I was about my career options at the time, my brother’s path should have been a clear “no” for me. But because of my personality, as soon as I saw what a good effect taking Bible training had had on my brother, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing the same thing, and I carried that guilt for years.

Doing The One Thing We’re Meant to Do

The fact is (and what I’m learning as I read “follow-worthy” authors such as Cilley and Rubin and others, such as Bible writers who urge us to find our unique spiritual gifts), we can’t do everything—and we shouldn’t try to do everything. Rather, we must figure out what it is God has called us to do, and then do it. But how do we figure out what we’re supposed to do?

The answer came to my mind almost immediately (God is funny this way):

If you would be a leader in anything, first of all, you must submit. It’s there, all over the Bible: “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” “  (James 4:10; 2 Pet. 5:6; Luke 14:11; Matt. 23:12, just to name a few references). And let’s not forget that those of us claiming to be Christians are, by virtue of taking that title, also claiming to followers: We are followers of Christ.

So for those of us with leader personalities, we must first learn to submit to the Greatest Leader who ever lived—Jesus Christ. After that, I believe, is when we really start to find our path. As Isaiah chapter 30 puts it (and this is a great chapter to read if you’re struggling to submit or find some direction), only after we have submitted to God and allowed Him to direct us, will we hear “a voice behind [us], saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (v. 21).

I can’t tell you what you’re meant to do; sometimes I can’t even tell myself. But I know this: when I take my eyes off Jesus and start looking to the world for my example (as in, I start thinking I need to become Gretchen Rubin, and not just glean some advice from her book and blog), I become frustrated, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. I believe God has a specific calling for me that only I can do, and while others may give me some useful tips along the way, I must always, ultimately, go back to the one who can not only lead me, but live in me to help me carry out what I’m meant to do. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).

 

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3 thoughts on “Leaders, Followers, and The Mob Mentality, Part 2

  1. Creativity! November 6, 2013 / 11:52 pm

    When I saw your title, I assumed the topic is about something political and dint read it. Today while I was driving from my home to work, I was asking one question to God and that was – What should I be doing?? To give you a background (I promise to keep it as short as possible!) I’m working mom, my weekdays are really hectic! I need to do the cooking, manage the house inventory apart from my daily work! My husband also works but is a passionate Choir director. He is a great musician and expects me to support him in all he does. His dad has a classical musical troop called TABERNACLES and he himslef trains a 50 voice choir of our church and is also part of a christian band called B316 and also teaches music at a school!! Well, with this kind of a schedule on his side, it lays the onus on me to take care of the baby and the house. I’ve been married for close to 4 yrs and we’ve had million fights.. I dint want to follow my husband because I myself have the ability to do other things and to be just his wife is so very difficult.! What do I do – I work 12 hours a day for five days, I cook, I manage home, manage baby, write blogs, write newsletters, take active part in the youth fellowship at church, I’m creative (http://winohcreations.wordpress.com/), I used to take sunday school (I stopped because i couldnt manage) and sing for my husbands choir too!!
    Our schedules make me feel miserable and my question to God is what should I do… When my husband is busy with his musical commitments I tend to get frustrated alone managing baby and home. to avoid this frustration – is started writing and doing some handwork.. Which is keeping me busy but our marriage is taking its toll!!

    Your suggestion to Submit to God is idealistic but in my case – I’ve tried and failed a number of times… And my husband is slowly drifting away and he even stopped reading the Bible because of my bad anger management!

    • lindseygendke November 7, 2013 / 11:32 am

      Wow, that is really a heavy load you’re carrying. First of all, I’d just say I’m glad you started writing to help you deal with some of that stress. I realize my post may have simplified what is really very complex in life. Too, I am writing from the point of view of someone who has come through a lot of my worst stuff (I hope!) and my life is going as well as it’s ever gone at this point. So I’m sorry if I made it sound so simple, when it’s not always that easy. I tried, too, for many years to submit to God. I was always asking him, “What do you want of me?” For years it felt like I was wandering in a never-ending desert; would my devotion to God ever pan out and be worth it? I considered giving up on it all many times.

      I try to not over-advise people, especially because I don’t believe I have any final answers for anyone. From my own experience, I can just say that eventually, after years of searching and stubbornly holding to God (albeit sometimes with a shaky grasp), he has smoothed my paths. I don’t believe I could be a happy, healthy person without my faith; I believe I actually wouldn’t want to live if I didn’t have my faith.

      One thing that may help is to remember the concept of “wilderness experiences.” This was explained to me by my co-author in my prayer training. The Israelites had them, Elijah had them, other Bible characters had them: times when they felt they were wandering in the wilderness and couldn’t see a way out. It sucks, but sometimes life is like that–God allows us to wander for awhile before making our paths clear. Sometimes we won’t know what the heck the point of that was until we get to the other side. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. If you’re interested, here are some scriptures I’ve collected on wilderness experiences: John 16:12; Deut. 7:22; Isa. 55:8,9; 1 Pet. 1:3-7; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 1 Pet. 1:6,7; Job 23:10.

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