Charles Spurgeon and Followership
This chapter will examine the exemplary followership of Charles Spurgeon during his 38-year ministry, pastoring the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. It may appear odd at first to ascribe followership attributes to such a high-profile leader, but Spurgeon’s correspondence between himself and the deacons of the church displayed courageous followership behaviors. Followership is a mutual reciprocation of communication, compensation, and co-creation that concurrently forms and re-forms between both parties furthering the organization’s primary cause. Given the pitfalls of power by many destructive leaders within Christian organizations, the need to study exemplary followership is critical, especially when a high-profile leader is considerably charismatic. The methodology of the chapter is a bounded case study in the field of pragmatic qualitative research utilizing primary (autobiographies) and secondary sources (biographies). Additionally, a sample size of Spurgeon’s sermons underwent syntactic concordancing to determine what the Prince of Preachers thought and taught about leadership. The chapter concludes with an extrapolation of Chaleff’s (2009) five dimensions of followership so practitioners can apply these principles to their organizational context. The five dimensions are: (a) assume responsibility in autonomous learning, (b) serving an esprit de corps, (c) challenging hierarchies, (d) transformation through repentance, (e) and taking moral action. The underlying theme of this chapter is that Christian leadership is paradoxically followership, and Spurgeon’s life exemplified it.