In our culture, being a leader is prized. Being labeled a follower is a downer. But think about it. If you’re honest with yourself, you have to admit that we’re all followers!
Everybody follows something or someone. Whether intentionally or unconsciously, people shape their lives based on something: a mentor or a philosophy or a tradition or even just a trend. Off the top of my head I can think of six dominate ones.
Family influences. Some people follow in the footsteps of their family. They choose a certain college or type of business or city to live in based on what their family expects. Everything revolves around the family.
A philosophy of life. I have a friend who is an excellent businessman. When I bring God up, he responds, “Look, Chip, here’s my philosophy: The Golden Rule. I just treat people the way I want them to treat me.” And he does. He’s got more integrity than anyone I have ever met.
A spiritual path or tradition. A person who embraces a New Age-like “enlightened” way believes it promises them direction, perspective, and a fulfilled life.
Personal intuition. Some people reject the idea that there is one truth. They pull from a salad bar of concepts and just listen to their “gut.” “It’s true for me,” they say.
The latest thing. Whatever is popular, whatever is “trending” online, whatever gets the most tweets, that’s their thing. For the moment, anyway.
A formula for success. This is how I grew up. It goes something like this: Work hard, be an overachiever, get into the best schools, get a good-paying job—and wealth and success will make you happy.
Does any of this ring true for you? No matter if your job title or family role or personality type labels you as a leader, the question is, who or what do you follow? (A sure way to tell is, where does your time and money go?)
Here’s the thing: If you’re a Christian, the answer must be Jesus.
And Jesus doesn’t just want us to believe in Him. He wants us to follow Him.
Being a Christian is not about knowledge or principles or rules for living. It is about believing and trusting and having a relationship with the God who made you, the Savior who came to redeem you. To follow Christ is to acknowledge who He is: the Lord of the universe, the Light of the world.
In Mark 8, Jesus says,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (v. 34).
What’s the alternative? What does Jesus say will happen if we try to maintain control, if we hate the idea of being a follower, if we reject the call to submit?
He says if you want to control your life, if you want to promote your own agenda and do your thing, you actually will lose that life.
So today, be honest with yourself. The accolades you might receive from the world for your leadership skills and achievements mean nothing if you refuse to acknowledge this ultimate truth.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,” Jesus says in Mark 8:35. “But whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Become a true follower of Jesus – Chip Ingram’s “Jesus Unfiltered” series walk through the book of John and unpacks what it means to truly follow – and love, testify, and believe.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip