“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard

I’ve recently finished reading Seth Godin’s book “Tribes”. In it Godin describes a tribe as any group of people, large or small, who are:

  • connected to one another
  • connected to a leader
  • and connected to an idea

For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes – be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature.

Now, with the rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media, tribes are no longer limited by the barriers of time, cost or geography. Now you can get groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million people from all over the world who are connected to each other, and who care about their iPhones, or living like Jesus, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.

And all this is good and exciting and wonderful stuff. But the killer question Godin poses in his book is:

Who is going to lead us?

According to Godin, while the Web can do amazing things, it cannot provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals – people like you and I who have a passion for something and who want to make a difference.

And if you think leadership is for other people, think again.

In fact, never before has it been easier for regular people like you and I to lead. All the tools are at our fingertips. All we need is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

Throughout the book Godin pleads with his readers to step-up and lead. He says that if you ignore the opportunity, you risk turning into a “sheepwalker” – someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you (or your organization or your church or the world) any good.

Ultimately this book has made a significant impact on me in how I view community and leadership, and made me think (really think) about the opportunities I have been given to lead. Whether it’s by writing another blog post, preaching a message, or meeting with a bunch of friends.

Stepping up to lead isn’t easy, but it’s easier than you think. What are you waiting for?

11 Replies to “Tribes”

  1. “Who is going to lead?” is a great question, but perhaps a better question is “Who is going to lead WELL?” If you’re going to follow a leader you want them to lead you safely to the right destination. Yes, we need good people who are willing to lead well, but let’s be honest, leadership is a tough gig. You not only have to be willing to lead, you have to be able to lead well, and be willing to pay the price for leading. And sometimes the price is heavy.
    I’m not saying we should all sit back and wait for someone else to lead. Everyone has a sphere of influence and something to contribute. But if we choose to lead then we must also count the cost and make the commitment to lead with vision, wisdom, integrity, compassion and courage. Tools are great, but the character of a leader is far more important.


  2. Well, guess you only can lead, if you know where to go? And today not many know what the next step is.

    Where or to what will you lead people?


    1. I think this is where a “holy discontent” comes in… What is wrong with the world that makes you angry? Is it poverty, or injustice? Often I think God uses these emotions to stir our hearts so that we get up and do something about them…


  3. To me, it’s all about viewing leadership in terms of stewardship. Any influence I have has been given me to use well. Any leadership I have has been given to me to serve others. It makes me zealous for influence – but at the same time hopefully keeps me centered on others and not myself.


    1. Absolutely Loren. Leadership is a gift that can be used well or abused. Unfortunately we have all seen what happens to people and countries and churches when it is abused!


  4. I read this book and did not find it enlightening. Godin’s style is interesting and “catchy”.

    However the question “Who is leading?” has long been answered. You and I know who our leader is.

    It may have been more approriate to ask “Who is following, and if not, why not?”.


  5. I have read this book but need to re-read it soon. I just finished Poke The Box, his writing is so important to know and apply. Taking action on our own life and producing and then “Shipping it” is so important. Great post.


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