As I was stacking wood today, I thought about some things that may go in a weird direction…. but we shall see* (direct quote teenage mutant ninja turtles)
I grew up in a church that had unique and specific views on salvation, worship and church meetings. I grew up believing these things were true. I was taught very well how to defend these views from those who didn’t agree, and I all but tattooed my heart with my allegiance to a specific denomination and no other. This loyalty felt good. This loyalty gave me belonging and identity and a strange pride that I was somehow better than a lot of other people.
I don’t find my story to be unique. I have met many pastors kids, missionary kids and ‘Christian from birth’ people who empathise with church loyalties. A similar occurrence is seen in political affiliation. I have worked with many conservative, heavily right-leaning Americans, and sometimes their commitment to the Republican party is clearly insane idolatry. Like me and my early faith, when you start prodding their ‘whys’ and ‘what fors’ of being so loyal to a party they have only just recently started voting for, and they neither know what the party actually stands for, nor what the opposite party is actually doing for them.
We find things we feel are true, then we fight to the death over them.
I worked at a petrol station for 5 years (Americans read gas station) I found myself only shopping at those stations. I would wake up earlier and stay late because I was apart of something. Even if that something didn’t repay my loyalty in anything other than my strangely good wage.
Sports teams, sports drink brands, bands, cities, clubs…. we like to be loyal to something, we enjoy belonging. Even if that belonging is destructive.
Stockholm Syndrome, as far as I understand it, is when people who are taken hostage start to have feelings of loyalty towards their assailant. Sympathy that the police won’t catch them… concerns for their welfare etc.
My generation and the generation after me is plagued with an uncommitted regime. We wait for the next best thing, but we don’t know what “best” looks like so we wait forever. But on the flip side to our ‘waiting’, we become super loyal to stupid things and then fight to the death over them. It’s at this stage I’m going to stop using “we” and focus on “me”.
I have had a real struggle through the past 5 years balancing my inbuilt dislike of authority, with my insanely passionate loyalty. A loyalty that has sometimes held me back, and a dislike of authority that has bred an inability to know intimacy. I have sat and thought about the possibility of trusting a leader enough because of who they are, not their role, not their vision, but them as a person. I trust my Dad. I don’t agree with my Dad often, but I now trust him enough to be able to dialogue with him over the disagreements. But I neither work with my Dad nor live in the same country as him.
I have a similar relationship with my best friends. I trust them as people. I know their love for me, but I’m not in a working relationship with them. I have worked alongside and under people I have liked, but because of their role, any decision they make I don’t like has always been a haven of bitching and figuring out ways to do it my own way anyway.
But imagine if it was possible. To find a person you respected enough to trust even in the midst of them making decisions you don’t agree with… whilst having an avenue to dialogue possibilities. Committed respect both ways.
I have always been told that a good follower makes a good leader. And i agree to an extent. But not from the position of the follower. Good followers make good followers. But if you are leading good followers, your leadership looks super good naturally. Good followers support leaders well. I have definitely been a good follower and a terrible follower, but when I have led teams in the past with good followers, the leading gets super fun. Being championed by people who believe in you, whilst you believe in those you are leading. Like a football coach or a head chef or a lead singer of a band as we honour and champion each other’s skill sets…
I wanna play this life like a team sport. and I’m convinced we have been made for exactly that. Trust, honour, open dialogue.