Are You A Leader Or A Follower?

Have you ever played Follow the Leader when you were a little kid? A person is appointed to lead, and whatever they did you were supposed to do without question. It was a fun and harmless game. But what if the leader of the child’s game would have jumped off a cliff? Would you have followed or would you have questioned whether that was a good decision to make? Basically in the rules of the game you were to follow without question.

I have heard parents make the remark about their children that their child is a follower rather than a leader and it worried them.

As adults we still play the game but it is real in what we call the game of life. The dictionary defines leader as: the person who leads or commands a group, organization or country.

At some time or other we have all been part of a group in school, college, our workplace or in our social and personal life. It has been said birds of a feather flock together. The phrase has been in use since 1545. It means those of similar taste congregate in groups.

I find that to be true in my own life. I tend to migrate to the authors, readers, compassionate, caring groups. I have been led astray during my lifetime when I hung around those who were critical and belligerent about almost everything. It is very easy for me to be that way, especially when the only ones I am with lend to that category. During those times I did not like myself very much, and I have to watch that I don’t get sucked into that abyss again, because we feed off each other. I followed a leader that led me down a path I couldn’t feel good about.

I was reading Max Lucado’s book “In the Eye of the Storm” and that is what brought about this blog post. It zeroed in on my thinking about what a good leader is. Of course, Max was talking about Jesus, which brought me thoughts about where I have been the leader and also a follower.

I don’t think I have always been a good leader. In my younger years I could have been the bully, bullying people into volunteering for things they didn’t want to do. I have probably mislead them on judgements that I now know are false when it comes to other people and my opinion. Thinking back on it my problem was insecurity and so if I judged someone, I thought it might make me feel better about myself, only it had the opposite effect.

Life is a learning curve when it comes to leadership and following, whether you in grade school, high school, college or being an adult.

Bullying is big in the world now, not just in school but our society, and to change it we have to start in our homes and in our schools. We have to look at our actions and how we are leading our families, our friends and organizations. Little children aren’t born with hate and judgement in their hearts, we teach them that by being parents who do not monitor our behavior. We teach them that by allowing social media and television to give them the message if we treat others badly it is acceptable.

I think of when the Bunkers and All In The Family, first came on television. Of course it was funny, but was it really funny the way Archie treated Edith? I never did like the Honeymooners even as a child, because of the way Ralph treated Alice. Because of what I was seeing I accepted it in my own life, laughing off the jabs when it hurt inside. Isn’t that what we were expected to do?

Here is what I think leadership is NOT. Being a leader is not leading by making others feel less then, belittling or threatening. It is not leading others to mimic the same behavior in our society. It is not leading by fear. Leadership is not building a group that stands for anything even related to bullying.

A father and mother lead their family not by prejudice, hate and fear and bad behavior; they lead their family by teaching their children respect, integrity and trust for themselves and others.

Being a follower you can become a leader if you see you are following behavior that harms others, and make the decision to not accept the behavior of the person you are following. I know many good people that follow a leader whose leadership is harming others and make excuses for whatever reason I do not understand.

We can whine and moan and berate the things that are going on with our children, but we are not going to change it or stop it unless we as adults show that leadership by denouncing bullying as being wrong, and quit making excuses for it on any level from the top to the very bottom of the rung.

Are you the leader or the follower? Is the person you are following teaching you integrity and compassion for others, or are they urging you to jump off that cliff from a place you may not be able to come back from? The choice is yours.

Are The Ten Commandments Old Hat?

I grew up in the Catholic Church. Although I am no longer Catholic I believe many of the things I was taught. As I read the news this morning the Ten Commandments came to mind. They were rules to live by in earlier days. Most Christian churches believed in the Ten Commandments. I knew right from wrong because of my upbringing in the church and those Ten Commandments. They were drilled in to me and I still use them to guide me today.

But those teachings seem to be muddied these days. Knowing right from wrong today is confusing. We fudge on those moral teachings because they are not as clear cut. Somewhere along the line we don’t hear too much about those important words. I’m not sure our young people today would be able to recite the Ten Commandments. Are they as important to Christians today as the Pledge of Allegiance we are fighting about in the news?

The Ten Commandments from the Christian Churches are pretty clear cut. In case you have never heard of the Ten Commandments here are a few that to me seem easy across any language and religion.

Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against They Neighbor

Thou Shalt Not Kill

It was clear when I was a kid if you stole something and your parents found out about it, they would march you back to the store to make amends. There were were consequences back home and then there was the guilt. A little healthy guilt isn’t all bad. It might keep you from making the mistake again. We knew what stealing was and that it was wrong.

Today the lines of that commandment seems blurred even in my mind. Is it wrong to take something from our place of employment? Maybe we pick up a few pieces of paper, or pens, or office supplies? Don’t we work hard and deserve the little perk? What about purposely entering the wrong information when we apply for a job? A clerk doesn’t charge us enough for an item—do we point out the mistake or tell ourselves the mistake was theirs so it lets us off the hook? That’s a perk right, and not stealing? What little or big ways do we steal and chalk it up to being accepted? But do we feel the same way if we are the ones on the losing end of a transaction?

What about taking the Lord’s name in vain? Everyone does it these days. It seems to be accepted in mainstream USA. It wasn’t accepted in my parents home or the school I attended. It used to bother me when someone used God’s name in vain in front of me, but I am so used to it now that it becomes a blurb in the conversation and on television.

Recently at a local drinking and eating establishment a group of young men were using God’s name loudly and repeatedly, along with other language. A couple sitting at a table near them decided to move and leave because of it. They were offended. We took their table and during our meal listened to the loud, crude language. What had happened to me that I blew it off? What happened that it no longer offended me so that I wanted to say something?

I know a few people who use the Lord’s name and profanity profusely in their life outside of the church, but when they enter that church their entire demeanor changes and the language is pure as the driven snow. Here is what I want to say to them, “Come to church, be yourself. Decide which of those people is you and be who you are all the time.” Why do others feel they have to change when entering a church. If you are not ashamed of the language you use in public, then use it in church too. After all, we know the chameleon you are and accept it outside of the church walls. God does too. Don’t confuse the kids who know you in both worlds.

Let’s get on to the Do Not Bear False Witness. Your neighbor these days is everyone you come in contact with. Read the Social Media and people are bashing and bullying their neighbor on post after post after post. And we join in.

We all break rules. We all break the Ten Commandments if we believe in them. For many of us we know we want to do better. We know we are not living the lives we want to model for others. We make mistakes but we try and rectify them and go forward.

What’s the point of this long diatribe? Not to make me any better than you. But the thought crossed my mind today as we listen to the left and right, and the interpretations of morals from sides using the Bible, perhaps all we need to do is to follow the Ten Commandments. We could adopt a generic Ten Commandments for those that are going to argue the Ten Commandments are for Christians only.

Generic Rules To Live By

I will not put money and power before people and compassion.

I will not make my house, my cars, my wealth or my electronics more important than living a life of integrity.

I shall watch my language so as to not degenerate or offend another person.

I will take time to rest away from the noise of the world and the media so I can hear my own voice in the clutter of others opinions.

I will treat my elders with respect. I will see that they live their lives to the end with dignity.

I will not hurt another human being physically or with words.

I shall be a loyal mate and friend.

I will not steal.

I will not talk about my neighbor unkindly or bully another person because of our differences of opinion, race or religion.

I will not be jealous of my neighbor’s good fortune.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we tried at least one of them?