As children one of the games we learned to play may have been “Follow the Leader.” There was even a song that some sang about following the leader and it was one of those rare games where you didn’t need to have a special skill to take your turn being the one leading. (I was one of those.) One of the other bonuses was that it didn’t result in as much comparing ourselves with one another as so many others did. You could be silly, klutzy, overly serious, or the best athlete and everyone could just enjoy trying to follow whoever was leading.
Then it wasn’t long before categorizing started. There tended to be two groups – leaders and followers – and it seemed that leaders were the ones who were lauded the most for all the characteristics that resulted in the label. Many times, someone who was simply a “follower” could be seen as “less than” by some.
Those labels often shadowed us all through school and well into adulthood. Some would call a person “a natural born leader” and other times other descriptions would be used. I wonder which you identify with. As for me, I was seldom considered to be a leader so far as I know and usually preferred to follow someone else I thought knew more than I did. That may or may not have been true, the person may have not known more, but somehow the label influenced me and many others.
I think God might look at that differently. A quick scan of people whom God has used or is using includes many who would be considered “least likely” to be chosen to lead. No one would have suspected Rahab would be chosen to guide the spies from the children of Israel to safety. Yet she not only led, she is listed in the lineage that would result in the birth of King David and Jesus.
In all of this we can be tempted to get drawn down so many rabbit trails as believers when it comes to our view of “calling” and what that means or might look like in someone’s life. If we are not in some recognized leadership role, it can tempt us to question if we have a purpose or calling at all.
“Living in a God-speaks-greatness-into-everyone environment can lead to shadows of self-doubt when God isn’t speaking to you.”From The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg
When that happens, we forget what “calling” means and what it looked like when Jesus started “calling” people during his earthly ministry. When He “called” his disciples, do you hear a defined statement of what that “call” meant for each of them? We get some direction with Simon (a.k.a. Peter), but not the others.
“The call” was simple – “Follow me.”
How releasing to know it is that forthright and direct! But the catch for us is that it isn’t clearly mapped out. He is asking us to follow Him and trust Him with what that means, looks like, and where it takes us. That is a good time to recall the words of Isaiah:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
A number of years ago I read a marvelous book entitled The Divine Embrace by Ken Gire. He begins the book using a metaphor of a dance to describe our relationship with the Lord. He describes what it would be like to be in a ballroom and have the Lord come and invite us to dance, noting we would be unsure of ourselves, wishing we had dance lessons to feel as if we could accept his invitation. That is a good image of what it can feel like to be chosen by Him, called by Him.
“There are places he wants to take us on the dance floor, things he wants to show us, feelings he wants to share with us, words he wants to whisper in our ear. This is what the divine embrace is – an invitation to a more intimate relationship with Christ, one exhilarating, ennobling, uncertain step at a time.”From The Divine Embrace by Ken Gire.
Perhaps we look at who we are following or trying to determine what our “calling” is, we need to go back to the basics and first accept his invitation: “Follow me.”
“Don’t be distracted by what others are doing. Don’t worry about the speed, productivity, or efficiency of others. Don’t be concerned with people who look like they’re running in circles. Stay the course. They have their lane and you have yours.”From The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg
The first disciples chose to follow a man from Nazareth, not someone who looked like the king they expected.
What will you do when he simply says, “Follow me“?
Your answer, my answer, will make all the difference in his call on our lives.