Will Role-Reversal Work?
Ted picked up the neat stack of paper in front of him, and crammed them roughly into his briefcase. He shot an angry glance at Allen, the new guy. Allen was surrounded by a number of his coworkers in a corner of the conference room. They were all talking at once in excited tones. It seemed like everyone was thrilled by Allen’s new proposal–everyone, that is, but Ted.
Ted was only too glad to reach the isolation of his office. He closed the door behind him, and unloaded his brief case on his desk. He was just about to sweep the contents into his waste basket, when there was a knock at his door. Then the door opened without his consent, and there stood Chuck, his coworker. They had worked together on many projects. Ted had always been the team leader and Chuck had been the “grunt” man. Chuck was a faithful worker, reliable and industrious, but he had never been a team leader, never, that is until now!
“Allen choose ME to head up the testing phase of his software. He said that he was impressed by my cooperative spirit. He said that I could pick my team. Joe, Pete, and Sam have agreed to be on my team. I am hoping that you will join us, Ted. Everyone knows your tech savy. We need your expertise. ”
Chuck spied the stack of paper on Ted’s desk, picked up the cover sheet and started to read. “Oh, Ted! You were going to propose this!? Wow! Looks like you spent a lot of time on it, must be more than fifty pages here!”
Ted grabbed the paper from Chuck. “What do you mean barging in here like that? Has everyone around here gone crazy? How could they give a lead project to Allen? He’s only been here six months. Looks like I will be submitting my resume to Tera Tech in Fallstown. If I can’t lead, I will leave! I need to go where I am appreciated!”
Chuck looked stunned. “But I always thought that we were best friends. You know that I love working with you. I have been your faithful aide for ten years. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for you. I thought that you felt the same about me. Aren’t you excited about the potential for Allen’s project? It could open up an entirely new market for our company. I just asked you to be on my team, and now you say you are planning to join our competitors in the next town. What is wrong with you Ted?”
Ted’s voice was cold and hard. “Sorry to let you down, buddy. (There was a touch of sarcasm in his voice as he said the word.) It just wouldn’t work. A leader like me has got to lead. You are asking me to follow YOUR directions? Are you out of your mind? My self esteem would never allow me to do that! You are just a work horse. You don’t know a thing about leading people, giving orders, getting things done! I would never stoop to work for a…a grunge worker like you! I am outta here!”
Chuck was astonished! Could he believe his ears? Was this really what Ted thought about him? Apparently, Ted had accepted Chuck’s efforts because those efforts had elevated Ted in the eyes of their superiors. Ted didn’t want friendship or even a good working relationship. All Ted wanted was to show off his own leadership ability!
Chuck started to leave, then stopped at the door. “Ted, everyone knows that you can be a great leader. We’ve seen that. The question today is, ‘Can you be a great follower?’ Or does your pride keep you from making important contributions to this project. I know you are a believer. You are at every men’s meeting in our church.
Remember what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am found, I can be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Why not accept the challenge? See if God can change you into a awesome follower. Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Then he added, “After all, behind every great leader are a lot of great followers.” Chuck grinned and winked, “I should know.”