Book Brief: “I am a Follower” by Leonard Sweet

I normally love Len Sweet’s writings. They are thought-provoking, fresh and challenging. “I am a Follower” is the first book of his that I was truly disappointed with. In fact, I couldn’t even finish it.

For months the book has traveled back and forth from the office, all around the rooms of my home, and I cannot bring myself to even pick it up again. This is, in part, because the book has brought up strong feelings for me.

While I agree with the premise that we should make following Christ our first concern. If we are following men and not Jesus Christ, first and foremost, we set ourselves up for danger. I also agree that leadership can come from sources that may be ignored, such as “followers” and peers. However this is not so much about leadership as it is about being part of a team.

The message that I hear in the book that I cannot support is the complete abandonment of leadership. It is neither beneficial nor biblical to say that we as long as we are following Jesus we do not need any other source of leadership and authority. I have seen spiritual communities (churches) torn apart because of a lack of leadership and direction. Community without leadership will devolve into chaos, and the pursuit of individualism will destroy any true connection within that community.

The opening section of the book felt like a constant rant and attack on leadership. For whatever reason Sweet makes it his mission to tear down the adoption of leadership principles in any element of the church. He condemns the church for accepting business and management lessons because he believes that we are not meant to take lessons from business because of the difference between it and the church. But then he uses that same source to as support for his own case.

A contributing factor to the rant-like fell of the book may be its blog-like format. Some “chapters” are little more than a page while others drone on and on. I found it to be a tedious and difficult read.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone, especially since I could not finish it myself. Others have been encouraged by Sweet’s message in “I am a Follower,” so it may still be worthwhile for you to pick t up. If you’re looking for something challenging and intellectual, pick up another book by Sweet, and you won’t be disappointed.

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