“Jesus wasn’t looking for leaders at all. Jesus was looking for followers.”
I am glad that these words have been written and that Leonard Sweet had the conviction to write them in his new book, I am A Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus, published by Thomas Nelson.
This is a rich book full of nuggets that are too many to enumerate in this review. (My iBook copy is filled with electronic highlights that I will refer to again and again.) Using the triune reference of “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” which Christ makes in the New Testament gospel accounts, Sweet suggests that only Christ is the Leader and we are the followers.
In the heart of the book, Sweet cogently makes the case that the church needs to return to the practice of making disciples and not leaders. In the segment entitled “The Way” Sweet brings up missional living which he defines as simply walking with Jesus and then emphasizes a ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ perspective as speaks of “The Wayfarer’s” fruit of casting seeds of hope, heaven, love, joy, peace, patience, trust, and rest along the way.
In the section of “The Truth” the image of Big J (Jesus Himself) and little j (the follower of Jesus) is part of Sweet’s view that “Jesus did not come to change the world…Jesus came to save the world. He does not have truth or bring truth. Jesus “is” truth.” And he goes on to to suggest that Jesus, not celebrity leaders, is the center of our life of faith.
In the third section, “The Way” Sweet suggests that a change of role perspective from “Sages and Gurus to Scouts and Sherpas” and from “Number One Leader to Coach Ghost” is essential in discipling people in the way of Jesus. And in this section, he also suggests something that I started to believe last year, the need to move from trying to live a ‘balanced’ life and trying to live a ‘harmonious’ life instead as he says, “Is life a balancing act or a harmonious oscillation? Leadership literature says, “Seek balance.” But did Jesus live a balanced life? Or did Jesus catch people off balance and leave people unbalanced on the path of a harmonious life? Technically, neither the word balance nor harmony is found in the Bible. But the concept of harmony matches perfectly with the biblical understanding of the promised shalom. And certain passages can best be translated by the word harmony, as in “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
This is a book that I will be reading again and I take away from it a greater desire and focus on helping others follow Christ and not me and not the latest program or person. I find it to be a very refreshing reminder that the work of pastors and layperson in the church is about helping people find and follow Jesus.
I give this book a five star rating.
Note: I received an electronic copy of this book from Thomas Nelson’s book blogger program, Booksneeze, in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.