Traffic Lights with Red Light onA great leader is first of all a great follower.  There are many styles of leadership ranging from humble example to narcissistic dictatorship.  Yet the truest and most effective kind of leadership starts and ends in discipleship.

Disciples follow leaders whom they respect.  Disciplers will embrace being respected leaders who are aware that others are watching and following their example.  And if you want to an effective and respected leader of others at home and at work, you will need both to be a disciple and a discipler.

As we mature we recognize that our primary discipler is ourselves.  We adopt the attitudes of discipline, awe, and wonder.  We look for signs that guide us in life, for positive change, and for opportunities to learn.  When we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities and we pause and do something about it, whether it be a shift in attitude, a fresh perspective, or postponing tasks and activities for later. Setting priorities and seeking balance is the ultimate goal of self-discipleship.

Disciples also seek to follow others whom they respect.  Listening solely to self doesn’t always work.  We need the objectivity others provide that will help us make changes.  There’s nothing better than knowing someone who’s just a step or two ahead of us in maturity, experience, or learning.  Our goal as disciples is to become disciplers who add value to the lives of others.

What are the qualities of a great discipler?  Disciplers are respectful and live transparently.  They are not necessarily famous or celebrities; they’re ordinary people living extraordinary lives of balance and grace.  They allow others to see both their gifts and personal challenges.  They invite others to share their lives and they have clear personal and professional boundaries.

Great disciplers will teach by example, share their best practices, and offer support rather than criticism or judgment.  They will respect the learning styles of their disciples, be patient, offer accountability, and celebrate successes.  They’re humble enough to share their failures and the lessons they learned from them.

Disciplers will also be discipled by others and exhibit the virtues of humility, curiosity, optimism, trust, self-confidence, and self-affirmation.  A respected leader will practice the virtues that they expect their disciples to embrace. They realize that leadership is not about imitation or teaching, but about offering principles and attitudes that enhance life and further the common good of all people.

Are you willing to be a disciple? Whom do you respect enough to follow?  How are you discipling others, and not just “disciplining” them?  Do you dare desire to be a respected leader?  If so, then  begin by becoming a respected disciple.

© Copyright Michael Parise 2017
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
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