Book Review: I Am A Follower: The way, truth, and life of following Jesus (It’s never been about leading), by Leonard Sweet
In a church culture overly obsessed with leadership and success—seminars, books, techniques, tools, megachurches, celebrities, church growth secrets, etc.—Leonard Sweet sounds a call to return to becoming followers of Jesus. Rather than uncritically adopt the world’s view of leadership and success, we need to recommit ourselves to loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength so that Jesus can live his resurrection way, truth, and life in and through us.
The book is divided into four parts. In the first section, the author states his case for rejecting leadership development and instead focusing on pursuing true discipleship. To straighten out a paper clip, you have to bend the clip in the opposite direction before it can become straight. Because the church has gone overboard in pursuing success and leadership, the author overstates the case to emphasize the importance of being followers rather than leaders. To me, this was the weakest section of the book because of his overstatement. Then again, I have a passion to train and equip emerging leaders.
Parts 2, 3, & 4 follow the outline of Jesus’ statement in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. As Sweet explains,
Following Jesus’ lead, this book is organized into three parts to reflect Jesus’ three-part story: the way, the truth, and the life. When we focus on the world’s view of leadership, being a Christian becomes more about blazing our own trail than tracking Another’s footsteps, more about being happy than knowing truth, more about creating a guide to living than accepting the gift of life. When we focus on followership, however, a whole new template for the life of faith pops up:
- To follow Jesus is to be in the right mission—the way: missional living.
- To follow Jesus is to be in the right relationships—the truth: relational living.
- To follow Jesus is to be in the right future—the life: incarnational living.
This seems to be a natural progression that Jesus proposed: first belonging (way), then believing (truth), then behaving (life).
With a number of short chapters, parts of the book felt like a series of lectures sewn together under a heading. Some fit together better than others. Each of the four sections ends with a series of “Interactives” to help you think through and practice the concepts.
While I don’t agree with the author’s assessment that we should reject leadership development, I do agree that we need to call people back to being followers of Christ. And at its core, a leader needs to be first and foremost a follower of Christ rather than an independent agent.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.