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Leadership & Followership

It was a rule for Walking Groups at Scargill House (and no doubt elsewhere too) that someone had to be the Leader and someone else had to bring up the rear, the Back-up. All very sensible, and designed with Health and Safety law in mind. But unfortunately it defies human nature!

If there are children in the party they can be sure to run ahead of the Leader, and their parents elsewhere in the group, will fail to take any responsibility for them if they think there is an appointed Leader. Sometimes there will be an independent-minded, very fit, adult walker who isn't prepared to travel at the speed of the slowest and who will go ahead and eventually take a wrong turn.

Picture of a group of walkers in the DalesFollowing, as the Back-up can be just as fraught. If you walk at the back of the line with the slowest, they will gradually get slower so it is necessary to walk a little ahead of the last one or two, and to 'drag' them along with you, being careful to keep looking behind so that one doesn't lose them. Furthermore, the line of walkers always stretches out so that the Leader and Back-up lose the ability to communicate.

If, perchance, someone falls and is injured, then the group must divide so that the majority get back to safety as quickly as possible and a few must stay with the injured person until help can be arranged. And it may even need a third group to go to the nearest place from which help can be called.

When walking in groups leadership can seldom, in practice, be left as the responsibility of one person. And follower-ship can never be just that, following, without thinking, in the steps of another.

For a group to travel in safety, in a remote place, everyone must take some responsibility for themselves and for those around them.

It's a model for discipleship.

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