Are you a rebel or a leader?
Let me define both. Leaders have influence and followers, and make a long lasting positive impact. Rebels also have influence and followers, and also make a long lasting impact- but it’s often negative.
The problem is, we don’t always know the difference between leading and rebelling. They are actually closely related.
Some folks who are called rebels are actually leaders- and some who are called leaders are really nothing more than rebels.
The rebel stands against something, the leader stands for something.
The rebel resists the authority of others, the leader earns his own authority.
The rebel is primarily negative, the leader is primarily positive.
The rebel focuses on tearing down what is wrong and the leader focuses building and directing what is right.
The rebel often only sees today and the leader sees down the road into the future.
In many nations, including our own, rebels have brought down governments. They have rallied the people around a popular cause such as injustice, formed a strong opposition and often by sheer numbers have toppled corrupt regimes. The problem begins after the uprising. The rebel then does not know how to turn his movement into success. He cannot lead.
Over the years we’ve seen the old rebels turn into old leaders of the nation. The problem is that they are still rebellious- but now with more power. With very few exceptions, a nation does not thrive or succeed under the “leadership” of a rebel.
Let’s bring this down to the church frame of reference.
Churches have rebels. They fight the pastors and other people in leadership. They believe some things are wrong and they push for change- but they push against the leadership.
Of course, for every cause there are followers. It has been suggested that for every critic there could be 10 more who feel the same and just don’t say anything. So when the rebel stands up and articulates what is wrong, others may say, “Yeah, that’s how I feel too,” and now- he has a following.
So, the rebels and their “followers” fight the leaders of the church, or leave and start their own. Of course now that it is their own, it is perfect. They have been delivered from those old, stuffy and non-spiritual leaders.
But watch for a few years…watch what happens.
Initial energy given off by rebel groups usually turns them against each other and in many cases the movement dies. Or it simply becomes a little group of ineffective people worshipping together. The foundation is wrong, so the movement does not grow. Rebels are not leaders.
Being against anything has never built anything.
What makes a rebel within the church?
Sometimes rebels are made because the leader has personally negatively affected him. Whether the negative impact or hurt is real or perceived, the rebel has a grudge against the leader. Either way it shapes his thinking, makes him oppositional, and turns him into a rebel.
I remember years ago two elderly church members who were very unhappy with the church they were a part of. So one day they decided to forget “that church stuff” and meet together, just the two of them. After all, they had a lot in common and they agreed about everything.
These two old men met on Sundays like regular church people and studied the Bible together. This was heaven. “We get along so well!”….. until they realized that they disagreed on some fine point of Bible interpretation. Their once wonderful “fellowship” became antagonistic, and they broke company and never spoke to each other again.
Two rebels can’t get along.
Be careful with your criticism or discontent when you are in an organization such as a church. Be careful how you deal with that unhappiness. Each of us are unhappy from time to time with the organizations we are a part of. That is human. No church or company is perfect.
But rebelling won’t fix it nor help us. Rather it may isolate us and only intensify our discontent.
Better to be honestly aware of our discontent, and then to consider how we might bring some fresh life to what troubles us.
I have known executives who say to their staff, “If you see something wrong, before you come to tell me about it, bring with you at least 3 solutions.” Smart attitude!
We need to encourage people (and ourselves) to be a part of helping the leadership, to be part of the SOLUTION, rather than try to fix it by bringing down the whole thing by a rebellion.
It’s easy to discover if you are a rebel or leader.
Pause for a moment to look at how you view the organization you are a part of.
Do you say “they have a problem” or “WE have a problem”?
Do you look forward to the future or back to the GOOD OLD DAYS?
Do you help to search for solutions with optimism and humility, or do you mumble and grumble about what’s WRONG?
Do you think about changing things about you or just about THEM?
Rebellion is a lonely place to be. Rebels don’t thrive. They may gather more rebels around them, because misery likes company, but it’s not a happy place to be. Discontent is a bitter attitude.
Leaders- real leaders- are positive, energetic, and enthusiastic. No criticism comes from their mouth, only WE CAN DO THIS talk. Real leaders don’t worry about gathering a following of like-minded people; they just STRIKE OUT for the future and leave the negative behind.
Be a leader! WE CAN DO THIS!