Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Differences between a leader and a follower

This morning reading from our E-100 planner on Genesis 42, shows something that is quite amusing. The opening verses: 1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

I was amused by the phrase: “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” I can imagine the remaining 11 sons (with Joseph sold to Egypt) sitting around mourning and groaning about their situation, the famine that had struck their land. Jacob must be quite frustrated at the passivity of his sons and hence his remark.

Two things can be observed here:

1. The lack of leadership with these men. It is also reflection of how the father had brought them up to be. This is of course speculative, but certainly deductive. If you want to know the father, look at the sons! There is some truth to that. From all 12 sons, came the nation of Israel. It is hard to imagine. What comes out over and over again in biblical stories is this. It is really not about how good or how capable we are. It is about how good, faithful and merciful God is to us. In the light of that, that's why Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

2. Jacob showed favoritism to Rachel's sons, Joseph (Genesis 37:3) and Benjamin (Genesis 42:38). This is obvious to everyone and I am sure the other sons felt it for many years. Favoritism seems to be prevalent among the patriarchs and their wives. Isaac towards Esau and Rebekah towards Jacob. This caused an on-going feud to more than 3,500 years later, instilling a spirit of competition, strife, and resentment between the two brothers. This favoritism of Isaac spilled down to Jacob who favored Joseph. Both scored bad marks for their fathering on this count. There are many fathering stories in the Bible and it would do us good to learn from them, what to do and what not to do. Favoritism had done untold damage, including molding the sons to be who they are.

Coming back to my point. The leadership lesson learnt is this:

Followers wait for things to happen. Leaders make things happen!

Simple truth. The bane of families today are men who will not make things happen in their families. Spiritual and moral leadership have been delegated by default to their wives, or abdicated. Worse still, what if even the wives abdicate that role too. This leaves the children spiritually leaderless and morally starved. For that matter, one can be a captain and successful in the corporate world but a loser at home. Think about that.


  1. I find the Bible teaching us to be more like sheep and follow our Shepard's voice. He is the Good Shepard. Unless God is in the picture and leading, our self effort and works are/will be in vain (or dead). When we are led by Jesus, and have our eyes on Him (like Peter walking on water), He will be our source of dependency, strength and success. Take our eyes of Jesus and attempt to walk on water and we will sink.

  2. I agree with you 100%.
    Apostle Paul gave the qualifier:
    1 Cor 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
    God does expect us to lead others as we are ourselves led by Christ. The uniqueness of this is that while we lead and are led, we also point them to the Chief Shepherd.

    1. Amen brother! Another thing about favouritism, it seems to be a consistent pattern in the Bible. Cain & Able, Jacob & Esau, Jacob's favor towards Joseph, Joseph's favor towards Benjamin, David over his older brothers, God's favor towards Israel, Christ love towards His Church, and ultimate is God's favor towards His one and only Beloved Son.

  3. That's an interesting thought! Never seen it that way before. Thanks!

  4. I used to wonder why is the favor always on the younger son throughout the OT. It's a a common pattern and surely favoritism is a bad thing in mans standard. I believe it points to Jesus as Gods favored one representing the last Adam. The first Adam put us all under sin in Genesis and Christ came to be our righteousness as the second and final Adam and through His perfect work He now represents us as our federal headship. Rom 5:15-21. The most beautiful thing about the pattern of favor in the OT is that this favor is now upon us who are in Christ for "as Christ IS so are we In THIS World" 1John 4:17.