Did you ever play “follow the leader” as a child? We did but not very often and when we did play, the game often ended rather quickly. It seemed that everyone wanted to be the leader and no one wanted to follow! So we would take turns being the leader but even that didn’t work out well, because those who had already had a turn as leader were not interested in following anyone else. The memory of that game and the different way each child would react to being the leader and then to being the follower caused me to chuckle this afternoon.
I’ve discovered that most I’ve my life I’ve been watching people play ‘follow-the-leader’. And, most of my life I’ve been trying to get away from those who are power-hungry leaders who refuse to be a follower. Today I sense that my husband might just fall into that category. Why is it impossible for some people to follow? Do they really believe that their plans, purposes, and actions are so much better than anyone else’s?
I remember seeing a quip once that said “If you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes.” Such a remark is meant to install the desire for leadership while at the same time denigrating all those who have not attained such a position, or have no desire to lead others. I’ve been blessed with both positions in my lifetime – leading and following – and each has its own merits and pitfalls. Leading carries an enormous amount of responsibility for the lives and well-being of others. Following can be fulfilling and rewarding or it can be soul-killing, depending upon who is doing the leading. Of the two positions, following is the most challenging.
A follower often has to swallow his pride and do that which he does not wish to do. Sometimes the follower may believe they know better and still have to do what is being directed. There may be punishment for not obeying or there may not be – again, depending upon the leader. On the bright side, followers usually know what the rules are and are able to function within the parameters established by the leader, whereas the leader oftentimes is blazing new trails and establishing ground rules as they go. I have never met a follower who didn’t, at one time or another, want to be the leader.
I confess that I struggle sometimes with following, particularly when my opinions are not only ignored but when I’m told to keep them to myself.
The greatest joy of my life, though, is being a follower of Jesus Christ. I love the way He leads. He always listens to my opinions, and even allows me to argue with Him. His direction is never harsh and the goal is always, ultimately, for my good. His ground rules are pretty simple and easy to remember: Love God with all your mind, heart, and soul and love others as you love yourself. Simple. Direct.
Now, I didn’t say following Jesus was the easiest thing I had ever done. In fact, sometimes it is downright HARD! It can be so hard to put aside our own desires in order to serve someone else who is attaining their heart’ desires. It can be hard to submit when we want to do something totally different. For some people, following Jesus means giving up their very lives – becoming martyrs for His name’s sake.
BUT, following Jesus is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and it gets better and better every day. It is wonderful to be loved the way Jesus loves me. It is wonderful to walk in peace, joy and love. It is wonderful to hear Him say “well done”. It is a joy to feel His pleasure.
I would not trade following Jesus for anything this life has to offer – even when following Jesus means letting go of my dreams in order to follow HIS!