There is a huge emphasis on leading in the world and in the church. Just go to any bookstore or library and you could likely fill multiple boxes with books on leadership. There are classes about becoming a leader at churches and in schools, talks about it on public radio, etc. etc.. It seems that people of all sorts, whether Christians or not, are obsessed with leadership in our time.
However, when I open my Bible, I find far more about following than I do about leading. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible does indeed mention leadership, but it always comes from a place of following first. In fact, to be a Christian in this world is to follow Jesus. Simply put, it is not more than that nor less than that.
So what does it mean to follow Jesus? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been thinking on these things, and these are my thoughts:
To follow Jesus is a way of life that involves following this person of Jesus, learning from him, and letting ourselves be changed by him. It is to turn our focus away from ourselves and tune it to Christ, towards his desires instead of our own. It is to find our treasure in Christ rather than in our earthly possessions and desires. It is to live in the truth and to have life in Jesus. It is to obey and deny ourselves, serving God and serving others, learning to love God first and love others as we love ourselves. It is to trust in his lead and follow him wherever he goes, even if that road leads to the cross. And it is to be loved on every step of the way.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25
This is why Christianity is more than a religion or a set of rules. It is not about making ourselves good enough for God, which we never could have done on our own anyway. Rather, it is about Christ, who has given up everything for us in love and is leading us to follow and become more and more like him. We cannot do this on our own, nor will we ever have to. We deny ourselves, and though none of us would have guessed it, we find what we were looking for all along.
And we will certainly fail along the way, but grace is what saves us and grace is what will continue to sustain us. If we remain in him, with his love and strength we will continue to follow and we will see his way until the end.
So with all of that said, it seems to me that if we long to lead, we are to learn to follow first.
Love to you all.