• Amber Albee Swenson

Follow the leader, and you are NOT the leader

Jesus invited people to become His disciple with the phrase, "Follow me."

The disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, etc.) did so, while others, including the rich young man, declined the invitation.

As disciples we're called to follow, too. Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

But what does it mean to be a follower? Heading to church once a week is a good start, but if we only "follow" Jesus for one hour, once a week, there's a good chance we'll lose sight of Him.

Imagine being in a caravan heading across the country. Only the person in front knows the way. Your immediate family is in your vehicle, while loved ones are in cars ahead and behind yours. How closely would you follow the leader?

I was on a field trip with my children several years ago. The teacher who was familiar with the area and the place we were visiting was in the car at the back of the caravan (assuming we were all equally familiar with the destination). The person I was trying to follow continually went faster than I was comfortable going and I did not have the directions. Because the person I was trying to follow didn't obey the speed limit, another vehicle of the same color and make came between us and as the two switched lanes and sped ahead I soon couldn't tell which vehicle I needed to follow. When we came to the point where the road divided I had to make a split second decision and pray I was on the right path.

Spiritually it can be so easy to get lost. Wolves in sheep's clothing (as Jesus referred to them) come along, camouflaged as something good. They entice and pull and suggest we speed ahead of our leader (Christ) and jump into situations we have no business being in. Other wolves come into our lives as distractions and pull us away.

There's only one way to follow well. It is to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

We do that by being in constant communion with Him; in prayer, in song, in thanksgiving. It happens as we make His Word our priority. His Word is His voice and as we become familiar with His voice through regular bible study, it becomes harder to be fooled by another voice.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

The goal is to stay the course and not get lost along the way. If we take the wrong turn we may inadvertently lead a whole lot of people the wrong way, too.

I pray you follow well, with your eyes firmly fixed on your leader, not just for your sake, but because there are always others watching. Your choices may mean the difference between them following well or not following at all.

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