40 Days of Building on Faith: Let’s be “Lead Followers”

During this Lent season we encourage you to reflect on the blessings in your life and how you can serve others.


By Kevin Campbell

Since it was first issued in 1989, I’ve kept a copy of Henri Nouwen’s “In the Name of Jesus” close by. In this book, Nouwen does a masterful job of connecting the three temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness to the challenges Jesus posed as He commissioned Peter.

Jesus was first tempted to be relevant: Turn these stones into bread (Matthew 4:1-3). Jesus challenged Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17).

Jesus then had the temptation to be spectacular — to throw Himself from the highest  point of the temple (Matthew 4:5-6). Jesus challenged Peter to become a shepherd, saying, “Feed my sheep.”

Finally, Jesus faced the temptation of power: “All this I will give you” (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus challenged Peter to be led rather than to lead. This one caught my attention this year.

I’ve always been intrigued to look for things that distinguish Habitat for Humanity as a Christian ministry. There are great practices that we can take from secular institutions, but what sets us apart?

We’ve given a lot of attention to what it means to be a leader, and I’ve attended many leadership conferences, seminars and workshops. It’s popular these days to think of servant leadership, but Jesus’ final challenge to Peter suggests that we aren’t ultimately to be leaders, but rather followers.

Jesus leads us to places unknown. By avoiding the temptation of power, we can love as Jesus wanted us to love. We can follow confidently, knowing that we are loved and protected and that a glorious journey lies ahead. Rather than leaders, we should be “lead followers,” enthusiastically following in the way of the Great Leader.


Lord God, we come to You seeking Your protection amid the temptations that come our way. In Your wisdom, we ask that You give us the words and actions we need to respond to the temptations of the world in a loving way. We seek always to resist temptation, not for our own success, but to demonstrate Your love and to raise You up as the leader we seek to follow in all things. Amen.


Kevin Campbell is president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County in Raleigh, North Carolina.