There are lots of seminars on leadership but when is the last time you attended a seminar on “follower-ship?” Don’t we commonly think of followers as people who are not leaders? But that’s most of us, isn’t it? Maybe the Bible thinks of followership differently since all of are called to be followers of Jesus? Join Scott and Sean as they interview one of the co-authors, Rick Langer of the new book, The Call to Follow (co-authored with Joanne Jung).
Rick is a Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology and the Director of the Office of Faith and Learning at Biola University. He specializes in the integration of faith and learning, and has also published in the areas of bioethics, theology and philosophy.
>> There are lots of seminars on leadership today that are available for anybody who wants to go to them. But when's the last time you attended a conference or a seminar on followership? In fact, I think frequently in our culture, we view followers as people who are just unable to be leaders. But as the Bible say something different about that, we got our guest today, our colleague, Dr. Rick Langer. His new book that he co-authored with Joanne Jung called "The Call to Follow" is about followership. Now, Rick, you've admitted to us that if you were looking to write a book that was gonna put food on your table, this is probably not the one you would write.
>> That is absolutely correct.
>> Why did you and Joanne write this?
>> Well, I know it sounds like I'm sucking up, but this is the "Think Biblically" podcast and sincerely, I just felt like we are not thinking biblically about followership. We don't think about what it really means to be a follower. We often just don't think about it at all.
>> Especially since we are all called to be followers, first and foremost is one of the points you're making.
>> I mean, that was one of the things that seemed transparently obvious as Joanne and I were talking about this is our first call, you read through the gospels, you just look at what Jesus called people to. He's relentless in saying, "Come and follow me." And the term discipleship, ideas of serving it, all these things that are just ubiquitous in the New Testament are all things that are attached much more clearly to following than they do to leading. So those are some things that got us going on this.
>> So you talk about how to follow and follow well, but you also talk about a lot of misconceptions of leadership. Talk about some of those.
>> Yeah, so I think one of the biggest ones is just the basic misconception that everyone should be a leader. And my philosophy side kicks in at that moment where I'm like, "Okay, conceptually, how in the world does that work?" [all laugh] I'm picturing the University of Texas marching band where everyone's the drum major, and I'm like, "There's literally no music, right?" The point of having a leader is to have a whole batch of followers. And conceptually a leader is dependent on a follower the same way dropping is dependent on falling. You can't drop something that doesn't fall. You can't lead if no one follows. And so there's a weird incoherence when we think of everyone as a leader. Now, I'm happy to acknowledge, and I would be the first to say this, that almost all of us can look at our areas of a life where we're a leader and areas of life where we're a follower. So it isn't an either or thing. And that's one of, I think, the deepest confusions is you think of followers as an identity thing. This is who I am as opposed to a role I'm serving at a particular place in time, in a situation. So that's one of the things with the idea that we're all leaders and probably closer related, is that to lead is what it means to be mature in Christ. And so the idea that it's fine for you to be a new Christian who isn't a leader yet, but you better be on the road to becoming a leader. And again, I'm simply saying, well, back that up for me biblically. Where where is it that you find that? And I think the bottom line is that there is a gift of leadership. Many people are called to leadership, but the leading that they do is a byproduct, the fact that they were called to follow, they're called to lead, so off the go and lead. But the point is, they were called to do that. They're leading as a follower.
>> So do you think that that our emphasis on leadership is overrated today?
>> So overrated is an interesting word for this, right? It's a little bit like saying, is money overrated? And I'm like, "Money's pretty important, right?" But I'd be more inclined to say, we have an obsession with money, or money has become an idol for us. Money's really a powerful thing. So to say it's overrated, I'm kinda like, I don't know. Likewise with leadership, I think the way we get addicted, seduced, obsessed with a thing like money, I think the same thing happens with leadership. You get a little bit of it, you like it, you want more or you get praise for being a leader even if you don't like doing, this is one of the things that scares me is I see people who are aspiring to leadership who I don't think are particularly good at it, and I honestly don't think they enjoy it that much. But they feel like they should. They must. That means that they are moving up the ladder or perhaps that means that they're filling a role that isn't traditionally filled by someone of their gender, ethnicity or whatever it might be. But we just view that as the success marker. And I'm like, "Wow, why is it that we view that as this transcendent good and followership, we just have absolutely no imagination for."
>> So all of us have training in philosophy in different capacities. And I love that you approach this in other tasks as a philosopher 'cause you want to carefully define terms. I'm curious if you could define leadership and followership, and I know there's huge literature about this. To me, one of the most simple definitions of leadership was just finding where people need to go and motivating them to get there. I was like, "Oh, that's a memorable way of leadership." So what are your thoughts on leadership? But even more importantly, define followership.
>> Well, to start with the leadership question, so this obviously comes up when you're writing a book on this and I thought, "Well, let me just do some looking for leadership definitions." And there's always people who say, "Oh, there's so many definitions of leadership, you can't even formulate one. And I'm like, "Well that just sounds silly. We use the word, we understand it, there must be a coherent definition." And I just looked at the Oxford definition for leading. And surprisingly enough, it include followers. So everything you just said about having a vision, knowing what might need to be done and how to get people there, that's all great. But the person still isn't a leader if nobody joins him or her, right? They think they're leading a parade, but they're really just going for a walk. So if you're gonna be a leader, you have to have a follower. And to flip that around when it comes to being a follower, the first thing I would say, it does require you to have a sense of deference to a leader. And the default mode, if you're a follower in some situation, when the leader tells you to do it, you just do it. That's the expectation. So that sense of deference, two things I would add to that for good followership 'cause this is part of the trick here is to say, not just what counts as following, but what would be good following. And a second thing is that followers should be doing it with zeal and passion. I mean, it oughta get you out of bed in the morning because you see it as something. As long as you see followership is just the absence of leadership, it's a shadow, it's a nothing, you don't get out the bed to go do nothing. So followership, once you get a vision for what it might mean, you say, "Wow, okay, this is the thing I better bring my A game to." You think of Jesus talking about His followers and as man, you put your hand to the plow and you look back, you're not worthy. You get distracted by something else, you wanna go visit Ron, you wanna check out some real estate you just bought, hey. And so His version of take up your cross and follow me is pretty demanding and it's demanding of this wholehearted zealous engagement. And the third thing I'd add to that, first one being that you actually do submit to a leader, second one being the zeal, the third one would be that the issue of owning the mission and being discerning about the mission. In other words, we are hardly short on examples of leadership who have departed from the proper mission of their organization. And I think one of the marks of a good followership is they've owned the mission of the organization such that they see a leader too in that they're like, "Wait a minute, we can't do that because I'm here with this mission that I own personally, and you're starting to ask me to do things. You're completely incompatible with the mission I'm committed to. So I'm signing out, this isn't for me." Or you call the person to account. So followers in that sense have really strong obligations to be discerning about-
>> Especially as Christians, right? Because the way people evaluate our faith oftentimes is based on the followers we are. So it seems like the stakes are even higher.
>> I could have written the multi volume work about failures of Christian leadership that in large part have been supported by the abject failure of the followers in the organizations in question. It's one thing for a guy to go off the rails, it's another thing for people not to enforce the bylaws of an organization. And I'm like, "Guys." They may be the elders or the board members, but the point is they have a charismatic leader of the organization and they just throw out all the things. Ravi Zacharias had this happen in a big way where the board report about when some of this came up, Ravi offered them to check out my phone or things like that. And they said, "Why would we check? It's Ravi."
>> Sean: Yeah, there was no accountability there.
>> There was no accountability. Instead of bylaws, they had by, laws, see you later.
>> So Rick, why do you think that the whole idea of followership has gotten the reputation that it has? There's a stigma attached to it and I like the way you put that. You're not a leader yet, but if you're going somewhere, you will be.
>> Rick: You better become one.
>> How do we get to this place?
>> Yeah, one of the articles I was reading described a guy who was doing leadership and followership training systematically and was doing a study of that and had people share their stereotypes associated, or the words they most associate with leading and following. And for following it was words like sheep, lemming, my favorite was serf. Not with the U but with the E. That attitude is absolutely pervasive when I think about following, we think about it as a failure. I think a big part of the reason for that is our culture is radically committed to autonomous individualism, what I call radical, self-expressive individualism. If I was Christian Smith, that would now be a famous acronym, but that issue, it isn't enough just to say, "Hey, I want to have personal freedom, the kind of which I think is conducive and necessary for human flourishing." It's like, "I want freedom from all and any constraint."
>> So I don't follow anybody.
>> I don't follow anybody or even anything. In other words, I wanna be able to choose my gender. I wanna be able to choose my pronouns without worrying at all about the issues that are going on in transgenderism. I just wanna say how easy that is for Americans to just look at and say, "Oh, well that sounds right, right?" That we're so committed to people being able to do anything they want and anything that's a constraint is you're trying to define me or other things like that. So that's one of the challenges. If you're gonna be a follower, you're going to experience a batch of constraints on your self-expressive freedom.
>> It's an interesting way to put it because it assumes there's truth, which is a standard outside of the self. It assumes submission to reality. And yet today we're told live your truth, you be you. So I can see why there's a real tension there. Now, you maintain that Jesus was more of a follower than a leader. The books that I've read, and I'm not gonna pretend I've read all these books on leadership, is Jesus often said, oh yeah, He's a leader but He's a servant leader. You're taking different approach saying no, He was more of a follower than even was a leader, explain.
>> Well, if you're good around a book, you ought to at least make one craziest assertion of it somewhere, right? So that was mine.
>> Unfortunately, we're gonna make you defend it.
>> Yeah, so let me try to defend that.
>> Is only one, if you say two, you're out.
>> Okay, good. So the first point that I think should be obvious, but bear's making is that I'm referring here to Jesus incarnate. In other words, Jesus of Nazareth, not the eternal second person of the trinity, right?
>> Sean: Got you.
>> So there's a bunch of things about Jesus incarnate, He got tired, He sweat, He cried, He suffered in all these sorts of things that we wouldn't associate with the eternal preexisting Christ. So I'm not talking about that Christ as being a follower, I'm saying-
>> Sean: Got it.
>> Jesus of Nazareth. And then I guess two big things I would say about this, number one is even the phrase you used about servant leadership, I had this point, I had written a whole book chapter on leadership, an integrative theology of leadership for a academic book and I've done a fair bit of speaking and other things on this thing. When I talked about Christian leadership, I would talk about servant leadership. No one did ask me 'cause everyone assumes that's all cool. Where do you get this notion? Well, it's of course Matthew 20 or Mark 10 or wherever. And that's where Jesus talks about, you need to be what? You need to be a servant leader. He doesn't actually say that in the past. He says the Gentiles lorded over people and exercise authority over them. But it's not supposed to be like that with you. You're supposed to become the servant, the servant of everybody. And in case you're wondering what that means, slave would be a good word to throw in there because that's the word He uses and that's what He says about Himself. I didn't come to be served but to seek and save those of us, I come to gave my life. I came to serve others and give my life as a ransom for many. And you realize the phrase servant leadership literally doesn't occur in the passage, number one. And number two, literally the punchline of the passage is that He actually just plains serves people. That doesn't mean He couldn't have been a leader. It just means the place that we most normally drop anchor when we think of the leadership of Jesus is in those passages. And I'm just saying those passages don't say that. Obviously, when He says, 'Come follow me," He's exercising leadership. I mean there's places you can certainly drum that up for Jesus. The second thing, and this is a part that was my aha moment when I was working on the book, was Jesus' own self-conception was as a follower, not a leader. So if you think about the normal things you associate with a leader and a follower, the follower gives the commands or the leader gives the commands, the follower either follows or passes them onto whoever's supposed to get them. The leader gives the message, the follower delivers the message. The leader makes the choice and searches the will, the follower implements it. Read through the book of John. And basically at every point, you'll find Jesus identifying with the follower side of that chain, not the leader side. He says, "The commands I give you, I got from the Father. I'm passing them on to you." I don't know the schedule, He sent me. The only things that I do are the things I see Him doing. So He's the exemplar, I'm the one who's following the example. And you just keep going and going and going. And I put this in the book. I think there's 12, 14 different instances of that exact pair. And in every case, Jesus is saying, "Let me tell you how I conceive of myself. I see myself as being the one who's following the Father." And so what you see emerging from the gospels and the rest of the New Testament, I don't need to take the time to unpack the similar thing in Paul, but you end up just with a chain of followership, not a chain of leadership. So Jesus is following the Father and Paul is following Jesus. And Timothy's gonna be following Paul. And then Timothy's supposed to have the people that he's working with follow him, who's following Paul, who's following Jesus. And it's like a mammoth chain of follow the follower until it actually gets all the way back up to God. And at every step, people are conceiving their first task is getting a clear enough vision of their exemplar that they can actually successfully follow him. So that's why I make the crazy claim. Jesus seems to make it about Himself so I thought I joined the party.
>> I'm gonna tackle another crazy claim here in just a second but-
>> Rick: They were two, oh, no.
>> There's another one actually. But there's a foundational question first. You've maintained it, it's possible to be a good follower, which suggests that it's also possible to be a bad one. So what does a bad follower look like?
>> Well, actually, the good news about that is we have pretty good stereotypes about a bad follower. The problem is we don't have anything else in our mind when it comes to following, but I would absolutely say the bad follower is the mindless one. And also passive, I think that's a great word for what a follower shouldn't be. So the passive owning of a mission, say where you don't really own it at all. You just say, "Yeah, whatever." The passive doing of your duty, these are not the things that Jesus praises in the servants. And you look at all the master servant parables that you have in the gospel, He doesn't say, "You were so passive, that was just perfect. I thank you so much." You never see that. And then also discernment. You think about that we are called sheep in John 10, but it's interesting, these are sheep who know the voice of their shepherd and they don't listen to the hurling. In other words, these sheep are discerning sheep. So the bad follower would be the unsdiscerning follower. They just go anywhere. They aren't self-reflective. They haven't owned the mission. They don't understand what they're doing. They just passively roll along.
>> I wonder if one place where we're seeing this now more in the business community for example, instead of the great resignation, we're now referring to this as the silent resignation where people in the workplace, they're doing just the minimal amount to get by.
>> Rick: Wow.
>> To get a paycheck, but without any connection to the mission of the organization, without really any connection to their own sense of what's important. I wonder if that would be an entire business example of a bad follower.
>> I haven't thought about it, but yeah, I think that'd be a perfect example of what I would be considering a bad follower 'cause they are in a sense following. So I get why we put them in the category, but I'm saying, that isn't the follower that would be praised by Jesus.
>> So here's the other crazy claim that you made. [Rick laughs] And that is that in the scripture, sometimes God gives organizations bad leaders because the rest of the troops are bad followers. That was a new sentiment to me. Spell that out a little bit, where you see that in the scripture.
>> Well, so let me first say that I didn't really come up with that, Calvin did. So this is beginning-
>> Scott: You're giving credit where credit is due.
>> Credit where credit is due. This is an observation made both in his commandier in Romans 13 about the following hazards, the authority that comes about should be a blessing, but oftentimes it isn't. It's because the followers have in effect rebelled and God sends this person as a judgment on rebellious followership. So with that little nugget dropped into our mind, it's pretty easy to see where some of this comes biblically, where you think of people like Aaron leading whatever Exodus 32 or 34 where he creates the golden calf for the people. So is that a leader who's leading the people astray? Well, you read the passage and you're like, that's pretty unfair to Aaron to say he had all these great followers who were going through the wilderness and Aaron just suddenly said, "It's Tuesday, let's have a golden calf." It didn't work that way. And when you read through the passage, you find basically about a dozen times that God condemns the people of Israel and a couple times He does pin it on Aaron too. In other words, Aaron doesn't get off. But it seems like the bulk of the burden falls on a followership that was committed to disobedience. Same thing happens with Samuel, with appointing a king for Israel. He doesn't want to do it. God doesn't seem to want him to do it. But the people basically demanded of him and he says, "Okay, but let me tell you what you're gonna get." And there it is." Habakkuk goes on a rant about all the terrible things that are going on in Israel at this time and God, why don't you do something and says, "I'm planning on it." And Habakkuk was like, "Well, what's that?" "I'm gonna send these guys called the Babylonians and they will conquer you and rule over you." And Habakkuk is like, "Could we opt out of that option?" But that's a pattern that I think God does. And I think we have hit a point in America today where I worry about we're going to be at the exact same place 'cause I look at our citizenry, if we're talking politically, I look at our followers, if we're talking in and about our churches and I'm like, "I'm not sure we are being discerning. I'm not sure we're committed to being biblical first. I'm not sure we're saying Jesus is Lord so I'll follow His values not my own, I'll live in the upside down kingdom where weakness means power instead of power means power." I don't think we're very open to that and I'm afraid we'll get leaders who exploit that.
>> You've talked a lot about what it means to be a bad follower. So mindlessness, lack of passion. What does it mean, practically speaking? Since we're all called to follow Jesus and we see Paul saying, "Follow me as I follow Christ." What does it mean to be a good follower?
>> In the back of the book is a actually a study guide that's meant for people to do together. And one of the things that we do and then just say, "Okay, think about your life and feel free to pick up very ordinary things." I'm a soccer mom, I'm a single dad, I'm a whatever it is and stop and ask, okay, that is a role that has been given to you in which you need to exhibit excellent following. What would be your mission in being a mom or a dad or a person working in a mundane job or whatever it might be. What is it I'm trying to do in that context? And actually spell it out for yourself. Think about what parts of what's demanded me, am I doing well? What am I doing poorly? And you really take on the ownership and a process of self-evaluation of how I'm doing a follower. And it's not a really simple thing. That's why we unpack it over six or eight sessions in that study guide because it's like, "No, this is what we mean take following really seriously 'cause it's worth it not just in terms of the extraordinary things, but the very, very ordinary things we do."
>> But you mentioned some pretty specific practices.
>> That are necessary to cultivate followership. What are some of those?
>> So some of the practices that we unpack, and this is where Joanne, one of her life-
>> Scott: Expertise.
>> Expertise is in spiritual formation things. But that was one of the things that we began to talk about is that you begin to look at what's asked of a follower and you're like, "Oh, I'm not sure I want to sign up for that." And so you realize there's a whole set of character qualities, including things like humility, a fierce determination, that willingness to do things even if you're not praised for doing them, that's the demanding set of things. So we have a whole chapter in there that's on spiritual formation that probably could literally be lifted out and dropped into just a book on spiritual formation and fit fine. But we're simply trying to say, this task of being a good follower is literally a thing that's demanding for our souls. And there will be very hard things associated with being a follower.
>> So at the very end of what you do, this is where I think your book is super practical and helpful. You're like, okay, identify areas where God has called you to serve, where you're a follower. Begin to lay out what God, according to the scriptures would call you to do in this situation. You're asking, if you were sitting down with Jesus, what do you think, so rather than you telling people, here's exactly what you should do, you're inviting people to be reflective and thoughtful and biblical in how they do it, rather than just passive and adopting certain ideas of what we think it means to follow.
>> Yeah, and I think even as I hear you saying that, Sean, so number one, yes, absolutely. The other thing that what you just described teases out is that the level of very personal ownership. So we have a sense that when Jesus gives a call, it would be a call to lead. And if all you got was a call to follow, then Jesus didn't really give you a call. And what we're trying to do is say, no, no, He gave you a call and own it like a calling. Like He looked you in the eye and say, this is what I want you to do. We give the example of Brother Lawrence in the book. That's a great example of a guy who's doing a very mundane and ordinary task. And he absolutely, 1000% believes this is a task that's given me for Jesus. And I do it in the presence of Jesus and I do it to honor Him. And in doing so, he found a really, really meaningful life.
>> But I can see somebody pushing back and saying, "When I signed up to follow Jesus, I didn't sign up for an ordinary life. I signed up for abundant life. I signed up to do something extraordinary." But it sounds like you're suggesting that good followership means being content with an ordinary life. Help us with that.
>> Yeah, so I guess I was on a rampage of saying crazy things, huh?
>> Yeah, you said a few more than you think you did. [Sean and Rick laugh]
>> So I'm looking at the three of all of whom have a long background in Cru, camps crusade for Christ, who are absolute classic people who organize around, "Come help change the world."
>> Scott: Changing the world.
>> That's what we do. And so I totally resonate with that. I guess the obvious question is, is that what Jesus seems to be promising to everybody, 'cause it certainly is a thing that I think some people do in a way. But some people apparently are given pretty ordinary tasks. And back to Brother Lawrence, I remember reading about him talking about the embarrassing things he had to do 'cause he had a hurt leg. It made him hard for him to do ordinary tasks. He hated kitchens and he spent his entire life working in a kitchen. And I'm like, this guy has a miserable job. How did he make it so meaningful? And the point was apparently God had wanted him to actually serve in that way. He owned it that way and discovered that was true. So I'm thinking about all this and I realized, I'm half happy with that. Because if someone told me, "Rick, I want you to be the next Brother Lawrence." I'm thinking, yeah, "I wanna be the next guy who's a master of the spiritual life and writes a book that's translated into 500 languages and is still in print 400 years later." And it's like, "Brother Lawrence never did that." All of that book was sayings that were recorded by other people. It wasn't even written down until after he was dead. He died in the kitchen.
>> Okay, so let me ask you this, the way you frame it, we have a background in Cru and I not only have background Cru, but a father who has been an activist, written that book that you're describing. So there's the strain of like, go change the world for Jesus, fulfill the great commission. But then there's this sense you're saying of this ordinary example. Is the task for us to follow, to just figure out, where has God placed me in history? What gifts has He given me? And maybe it's prestige, maybe it's served like Brother Andrew and those are equal ways of honoring and serving Lord if we're following. What exactly is the calling to follow given the tension that's there?
>> Well, so I think what you described is absolutely right where you just say, I don't know what Jesus called me to exactly. And in part particular, in any given situation. 'Cause like I said, most of us do both. We follow and we lead. But on the ordinary life issue, it's interesting to go back and read to the Epistles and go, how much of the epistles are talking about how do you treat your spouse? How do you treat other people around you?
>> Scott: Or one another?
>> How do you do your job? All of the one others and they're almost always talking about ordinary life. And they're stunningly lacking in miracles. They're rare to have ex rotation that go, the phrase sharing your faith doesn't really occur. It occurs in [indistinct], but it's not in the sense that we use it for evangelism. It's amazing how much Paul is expecting the bulk of the people in the churches that he's creating, ministering to, and writing to people who are pastoring are gonna be preoccupied with what you might call ordinary life. So my crazy claim is our ordinary life is way more extraordinary than we think it is.
>> And that's true for Peter, right? 1 Peter, it's just this simple, suffer well, love your neighbor, obey the rulers.
>> Make it your aim to live a quiet life. So my question is, do you think we have misunderstood or misapplied the notion of the abundant life?
>> So I think we do. Now that, to clarify this relative to Cru and some of our heritage, I don't think Cru does anything special in that regard. I think Americans, when they think of an abundant life, tend to think of all these things, both including this radical, self-expressive individualism and also abundant money, abundant power, abundant influence, all those things. So we just fill that in and I really do think what Jesus is looking at, maybe a better way to frame that. What's the abundant life? I'm like, "Well, how about the life that Jesus said you would get if you came and followed Him?" The life of the easy yolk and the light burden. "Take my yolk upon you and learn from me 'cause I'm gentle and lowly in spirit and you'll find rest for your souls." I think that's descriptive of the life Jesus would have us live regardless of the role that He calls us to. We're to be people of the easy yolk and the light burden because we've adjusted to following Jesus. As a little side note on that, if you've ever skied, I grew up in Colorado, did a lot of skiing, there's these "Rules" of skiing. So you lean out from the mountain, you put your weight on the downhill ski, bend your knees, put your shoulders straight down the mountain. And I remember trying to learn to ski and I had these rules in my head and these rules were like bondage. Oh, I'm leading out from the mountain. My friend is telling me laid out from the mountain, and I just absolutely hate it. Well, in the course, events I ended up mastering and internalizing all those rules. And suddenly, skiing was a delight. It was liberating. Why? Because I was "Following" the rules of skiing and I found my yolk to be light and my burden was easy. But the process of learning those rules was hard. And I think that's what I don't want short circuit to say, "We need to become discipled to Jesus." And that's where the soul rhythms and things like that say we need to shape our souls in a Jesus like way. And we will discover at that point whether we're leading or following, that we have found an abundant life. We've found the kinda life. And that life will be its own reward. It will bring with it the self reward that "Obeying" the rules of skiing doesn't need someone to give you an reward afterwards. You have a raw delight in skiing itself. And likewise, we have a raw delight in just living an ordinary life that's pleasing to God.
>> I'm reflecting back on the conversation we had with our friend Brent Waters, his book on-
>> Me too.
>> "Common Callings and Ordinary Virtues." In his claim, I think he's right about that, is that so much of how we are formed into Christ likeness happens in just the everyday fabric of our lives and the decisions that we make and the way we live that out. And I wonder if the abundant life has more to do with how we are formed into Christ likeness as then we have with this big picture, I'm changing the world I'm gonna be recognized, all of that. I wonder if that abundance is more an internal thing rather than something we look at externally.
>> It's an interesting thing to think about. Imagine two kids, two teenage kids and they have roughly the same amount of stuff in their life. And one is a person who's profoundly grateful for the fact that their parents have given them all this stuff and they've had the opportunities they had. The other one is always worried about what they're not getting and comparing themselves with someone else. And I just asked the question, who has a more abundant life? And I'm going, obviously, it's the person who has gratitude for all the things that they actually have as opposed to this unceasing longing for the next thing up the ladder. And so I think that is a huge part of it is just saying, "Oh, I'm gonna be a person who fully embraces the life I actually have and lives it to the fullest, but not going to be anything other than thankful for the things I have."
>> One of the best definitions of contentment I've heard is right to your point, it's wanting what you have. And I think that's right and I think we've misunderstood what it means to live life abundantly.
>> Yeah, everybody wants everything they want. That's not [indistinct] thing but-
>> We see that largely, I think through western American prosperity lenses. And I don't think that's the way Jesus intended that at all.
>> I think if you want to have everything you want, you should be worried a lot more about what you want than what you have because we think our wants are fixed and that just isn't true. Part of good soul formation is literally changing your desires. This is a very augustinian notion about the mark of the disciple isn't that they know the things of God but that they love God. It's the question of right place desires, right place affections and the fact that you might have displaced, misplaced, ill placed desires. I think all of us should assume. So big part of discipleship is literally the changing of what you want.
>> That's a pretty counter-cultural idea today. 'Cause when I ask students-
>> Rick: Okay, my fourth crazy idea.
>> Well, so I didn't say crazy, I said counter-cultural. It should be.
>> No, that's different.
>> That's not exactly the you be you thing, is it?
>> That's my point is when I ask students what they think freedom is, doing what you want without restraint. And I'll give an example of something somebody wants that if they do it, they're not free. So if a guy says, I don't wanna spend time with my family, someone look at porn all night, he wants to do it. If he does it, he's not free. The problem is his wants are not right. So how do we cultivate our wants through spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit, et cetera. That's what it means to be free and it means to really be a follower of Jesus. I love that. I've got a question for you though, about encouragement. There's a lot of people who don't feel called to lead, but feel pressure that they're supposed to be leaders. What encouragement would you give to someone who doesn't feel called to lead and then as someone who has been called to the role of a leader?
>> So let me first talk about the person that doesn't feel called to lead. I'm glad you brought this up 'cause I think that one of the first things I'd say is don't ever make that make you think that you shouldn't end up leading one day. I think one of our problems is we're short on people who don't want to lead, but would really be gifted and blessed in their leadership and they would gift and blessed to other people when they led. I'm worried that we have too many people who desperately want leadership and think that their wanting constitutes a divine calling. And I'm like, "I'm not sure that there's a real correlation between an intrinsic desire to lead and a divine call to lead."
>> Especially since that could be nothing more than what I would call baptized narcissism.
>> I mean, I worry that it often is. So that's really interesting question. And I think people who feel compelled to lead in a good sense of being compelled are some of the people I'm thinking, "That's probably the guy you really want doing it." Because they take the deep breath and say, "Okay, I would much rather do the following set of 12 things, but I feel called in this setting to do this." Scott, I think, just to point is out, so Scott's our dean of faculty here at Biola at Talbot and he's also working in the president's offices, working with the mission. These are administrative roles. I don't know that that was a big thing that you woke up one day and say, "Dang, I'd like a little more administration in my life. I'd like more conflicts. Could I have all the problems come to me. When I have a cranky person who has a problem with what Biola's doing, let them talk to me." I doubt that you thought all of that. But in some sense I'm going, if you did want that, I'd be a little more worried about you serving that role than if you didn't. But if you on the other hand look at it and say, "You know what, given that, is this an important role? Yes. Is there someone obviously more qualified or better able to do it than I am? I'm not sure there is. So perhaps I should say yes to this that I wouldn't really want to." And I think probably all of us have had those situations where sometimes pressed to do things that you wouldn't just sign up. I know I have. And it's like, that's okay.
>> I appreciate that. Other than that, no comment. [all laugh]
>> Right, yeah. There you go.
>> Clearly he's learned to handle these questions well.
>> Well, there's a lot of hard jobs in leadership that are unrewarding. Some things, I just was describing for you, Scott, are non glamor jobs. They may have power association, whatever, but they aren't things that you just go, "Wow, this is a glamorous role." I think we have found some people feel called to be in the position of a leader, but not actually to do the work of a leader. Those are two vastly different things.
>> Sean: They are.
>> I mean, I'm actually a bit skeptical of people who aspire to leadership positions.
>> Yeah, I think there's a healthy way to do that and there's an unhealthy way to do that. And it's a little hard to know sometimes from the outside. And that's part of why a lot of things we did with a study guide in the book are really aimed at reflection, but then quickly associate with other friends who know you well enough to give you some feedback on whether or not you've accurately perceived yourself. So this is where the genius of a thing like this, I have small groups not of our book, but is doing soul searching, but doing it not alone where you get feedback from others.
>> So the challenge in writing a book like this is probably the people who read it and work through that study are less likely to be the people who need to read it and work through that study. So if you're watching this and your instinct is, "Oh, I don't need to do that, I've got it figured out," that means you're exactly the person who needs to work through this before you leave.
>> That is likely true.
>> Well, I think let that be a final admonition to our listeners on this. Because if you think you've got this wired, then you may be exactly the person who, in our view, would need to read this incredibly stimulating book. I mean, you and Joanne have done a great job with this and we so commend this to our audience. You've really done a yeoman's work for the kingdom. And I think for elevating the people who don't feel called to leadership.
>> And I really would underscore that as well. For people who are feeling like, "Man, his leadership passed me by, is my life meaningful?" And things like that, my hope would be a person could read this and say, "Oh, wait a minute, I can find a lot more meaning in the place God has put me right now than I ever thought."
>> And what a good word. Rick, thanks so much for being with us. This has been a great conversation. Hope you've enjoyed this. I wanna remind you that if you've enjoyed the video, we also have an audio version of our podcast, "Think Biblically" that comes out weekly. I encourage you to sign on, subscribe to that, and become a part of that as well. [lighthearted music]