Following the Leader??

As the girls were going upstairs this morning, I heard Lillyann telling Mylah, “That’s right little unicorn; follow the leader.” Lillyann was, of course, the leader. God used the girls to remind me that I wasn’t truly following Jesus, only inviting Him to come along with me. I have the tendency to imagine Jesus right behind me and try to behave accordingly. It’s exactly what Lillyann loves for all of us to do:) I am thankful God has a sense of humor and loves me even more than I love Lillyann. He patiently allows me to show Him all I’m doing and learning. I am eternally grateful that He smiles, encourages, and waits for me to truly understand what following entails. If I am to walk in His kingdom, I have to decide to truly follow Jesus instead of asking Him to join me on my journey.

I take Jesus with me wherever I go, and I thought I was doing the right thing. My intentions have been very good, but the path was not leading to God’s kingdom just improving my path. Good intentions still pave the road to a very different place, and I had a very sobering reminder of that from God’s Word this morning.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NASB

I was humbled by those powerful words and the ones which follow in verses 21-23.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you” NASB

Following Jesus isn’t easy, and I pray I will remember that as I step aside and allow Jesus to lead the way. I listen and obey to the point of seeing the direction, and then I take off like Forrest Gump. It’s only when I find myself past the end zone that I turn around and remember that Jesus should be the one out in front. Again, I’m thankful for His patience and His grace. His love goes without saying because if it weren’t for it, I would be completely lost and alone.

Following the leader was never my favorite game when the kids in my neighborhood got together. I was one of the younger ones, so I wasn’t the leader often. When I was, I was too busy wondering what those behind me were doing to do a good job of leading. Following Jesus is much more difficult than simply inviting Him to walk along. He made that clear to me this week. I have to choose whether or not to hang on to my wants or let go and let Him worry about my needs. I allowed our paths to go in different directions once before in my life, and I do not want to ever be without Him again.

Holiness simply means mature, ripe, and ready. I am closer to understanding just what that means after the vivid lessons He had for me this week. Lillyann’s sweet order to Mylah was a call for me, as well. Jesus is also saying to me, “That’s right! Now, follow the leader,” and His voice is just as sweet and reassuring as Lillyann’s was this morning as she bid little Mylah to do the same:)

The Need to Lead

When I think of leadership, I think of all the workshops and classes I’ve taken over the course of my life. Most had to do with education, but all leadership lessons are the basically the same until you come upon the teachings of Christ who led like no other. His lessons in leadership are still the same, and they still clash with the world’s view of what makes a good leader. The world’s lessons feed those with a need to lead, and I’ve always had that need. I realize that whether I was trying to fix someone or prove something to myself or others, I felt as though I had to lead.

Getting to the bottom of my heart has been a difficult part of my journey. As I’ve gotten there with God’s help and the help of loving friends, I am surprised by what I find. I should have known that the journey to find self wouldn’t be pleasant. Otherwise, Christ would not tell me I have to die to self before I can follow Him. As difficult as it is, finding self does make it easier to do just that.

I have had to redefine myself several times during my life. Each has left me wanting to know exactly who I am. As I posed that question to someone in frustration this week, I realized God was directing the question to me. He has been waiting for me to decide and was all ears. Soul searching is never easy, and the outcome is much the same as that of finding self. The soul is seldom subtle, and when I go delving into it, I come away shocked by what I find.

The good news is that such searching humbles and causes me to pause long enough for God get in a word or two. While dazed, I hear His still, small voice loudly and clearly saying that I need to remember Who He is and who I am. His model for leadership hasn’t changed. Jesus was not, and still is not, your typical leader. He will not be when He returns. He does not measure up by the standards of this world any more now than He did before. He doesn’t have the need to lead, and He didn’t seek out leadership positions or teach seminars on how to be a successful leader. That bothered the leaders of the day and would bother them even more today. His authority comes from God, and that is His bottom line on leadership.

Jesus has a leadership style all His own, and it is the most effective one ever known. He doesn’t set out to lead; He sets out to love. Love was the impetus behind His leadership, and no matter how confounded the Pharisees or the disciples got, they just couldn’t get around His love. His love let those who hated Him have His life, and Satan thought for sure he had won the war when it came to leadership. Christ’s love brought Him back with even more power than He had before, and the war was won once and for all. There is no way to understand the love that put Jesus on the cross and brought Him back; it can only be accepted with the understanding that it cannot be understood. What a leadership strategy! Love, listen, and let go of the need to lead. The secret to successful leadership is knowing Who’s in charge, and it always will be. God doesn’t need any more leaders. Christ has His authority and will always have it. He needs those who will follow His leader humbly without grumbling. Anything else is unacceptable.

Will the world like it? NO! Will it make me popular? NO!  Will it get me elected to positions of power? NO! Will it help me win friends and influence people? maybe:) Will it connect me to the Source of all Love and true power? Definitely!

I know the world will always have hierarchies, and positions of leadership are necessary when it comes to organizations. God’s design is a body, an organism, and there is no hierarchy when it comes to a body. Whole and working together is what God desires. When it comes to God’s kingdom, there’s only one Sovereign, and the position is already filled. We are asked to follow, not lead.  A simple seminar if I ever heard one:)