In college, 13 years ago, I had to read a book by Leonard Sweet.
I didn't like it.
Actually, my classmates and I mocked it. I think the only one in the class who like it was the professor. Many of us vowed to never read another book by Sweet.
You could say that I lacked a Sweet tooth.*
Recently, I was at a pastor's conference where I would be seeing some old classmates. I had just picked up my review copy of “I Am A Follower: the way, truth, and live of following Jesus” by Leonard Sweet. I had to not only confess that I broke my vow, but that I was really enjoying it.
I think what I enjoyed most was the different take on leadership it provided. As a pastor the second statement of my job description begins, “To provide leadership...” It is my job to lead. There are scores of books out there to help me in my role as leader, but Sweet comes along and draws the attention back to what it means to be called by Jesus. The reader is reminded that the apostles were all called not be be great and might leaders, but to follow Jesus. Then on page 21 Sweet reminds us that: “The Jesus paradox is that only Christians lead by following.”
I will best fulfill my role as leader by following Jesus.
There is an incredible sense of freedom in that: in remembering that it is Jesus' ministry, and these are Jesus' people.
So like Paul I need to be saying “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Or perhaps better yet, “Let's all follow Christ together.”
The rest of the book is about what it means, and how to, follow Jesus. It's about a setting right of our perspective of what it means to be the church.
I've already recommended it to others, and will continue to do so. I think the church needs to understand that we are to follow Jesus and Jesus alone.
* If there is a Leonard Sweet fan club I highly encourage them to be known as Sweet tooths if they are not already. That would be a killer name for fans of his writing.