In the current theatrical release of the film Risen, a Roman soldier asks the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth—after His death and the discovery of the empty tomb—if the answer to what’s going on lies to the north, in Galilee.
Peter, the de facto spokesman for the disciples, replies, “We are followers. We follow to find out.”
Having studied a number of historical examples of followership (including various biblical figures), there is a subtle profundity in Peter’s response.
The disciples, a group of 11, had recently lost their leader amidst uncertain circumstances. And yet, they still referred to themselves as followers. Followers without a leader, at least for the moment.
While the essence of followership requires that there is a leader as part of the relationship, Peter’s statement alludes to something deeper. Follower is more than a role, more than a job description—certainly more than a statement of derision.
There is an element of identity wrapped up in this attribution. “We are followers.”
Even with the temporary absence of their master, there was still something that bound them together. They had an association, a common bond, that remained. They were still a “we”, and they identified themselves with a “we are.”
But that follower identity is more than a simple name; it is an action, a purpose. “We follow to find out.”
They were on the move, together, headed somewhere, desirous of answers.
And they were poised to influence the whole world and all of history.
Identification as a follower is a commitment to a purpose, a stepping into an opportunity for influence, and taking up a position that is honorable.
Just like we know of knights Gawain and Galahad because they were taken into King Arthur’s inner circle of followers, history has gotten to know a handful of fishermen because they were invited to become the disciples of a country carpenter become rabbi.
Association. Purpose. Identity. Action. Influence. Honor.
Do these words fit your definition of followership? Do they describe your life, your work?
Who do you associate with? What purpose moves you forward? Are there answers you’re looking for? What action are you taking, and with whom are you taking it?
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