From time to time I take my grandchildren to the playground near our home. The walk is part of the fun and we often take it in turns to be the leader. Being the leader means you need to know where you are going and what you are going to do next. It takes a great deal of concentration, not to mention fitness, to keep a four and six year old entertained as I hop, skip and jump, while waving my arms around.
But if you think you’ve got the hard part as the leader, think a little about what it takes to be a follower. The leader knows what move she will make next, but the follower doesn’t. He needs to fully concentrate, learn to get inside the head of the leader, and anticipate every move if he is to be a good follower.
When you next play “Follow the Leader”, note how long the concentration lasts before they find it too hard and stop. Or observe how the further down the line a person is the more and more removed the actions become from the leaders.
There is a cost involved both for the leaders and the follower, but as a Christian we can’t just drop out of the game when times are tough or another priority seems more appealing. Luke 9:23 explains it well:
“If anyone would follow after me, be next in line, he must deny himself; his thoughts, his agenda, his ideas and with sheer determination and concentration, follow his leader.” (my paraphrase)
Jesus asks us to follow him many times. In Matthew, he talks about the costs of being a follower (Matt 8:19). Jesus’ disciples knew what it was like, they had followed him for so long, they were starting to understand the things he did and anticipate the way he moved. Peter said “We have left everything to follow you Lord, without you what then will there be for us?” Jesus then gave them another challenge: to follow his ways even without his presence. The bible records that as Jesus was taken away to face the Cross, Peter still followed, but now it was at a distance.
Peter later found that Jesus words were true, whoever follows Christ will never walk in darkness. Even though the road is tough and the path is not always clear, the light of Christ lives in us to show his light on our way.
Whether you are a leader or a follower, discipline, dedication, submission and perseverance are required. Jesus clearly displayed each of these characteristics when in submission to the father he so willingly went to the cross and laid down his life for his followers.
During this Easter, may we take the time to reflect on his examples of love and grace as we lead where he has led us, always as true followers.
Margaret Sanders, National Director