| Mar 6, 2022
40 Days of Prayer content is intended for Monday through Saturday each week. Devotions are available on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead.
I was never known as a willing follower. My childhood friends could tell story after story about me having to be the leader, or the teacher, in every game or adventure. No one fought it, either. I had a lot of little disciples who followed me into all kinds of trouble—riding bicycles while facing backwards, building two-story forts out of cardboard boxes, or playing hide-and-seek in an active wash.
The bar for good leadership was set pretty low in those days. If everyone came back alive and without needing stitches or a cast, it was a successful operation, and I would be back to bossing my flock around the next day.
This attitude continued into my adulthood. It served me pretty well in business and had mixed results in my social life. The first real time I had to confront this issue was when I turned my life over to Jesus. First of all, people referred to it as “surrendering” your life to Jesus. That didn’t sound admirable and definitely didn’t align with my leadership stance.
Then I was hit with the news that a life with Jesus really meant a life following Jesus. Following. The word, the posture, I had spent my life avoiding was now going to define my very life.
I wonder if that is how the first disciples Jesus called felt when he told them to leave their careers, their families, and their egos behind and follow him. These young men came from various positions with different status and reputations, and all of them, some more immediately than others, gave it up to become followers.
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22 NIV).
What could make someone leave everything they had and follow someone they had just met? I can’t answer for the first disciples, but I think their reason was probably the same as mine: for something better. Giving up leadership over my own life led to understanding I was never really in control anyway. I stopped relying on my hard work and began trusting in the much more reliable gift of grace. I turned away from who I thought I was to pursue who I know he is. He is trustworthy, faithful, and good.
Jesus isn’t a leader like I was when I was younger. I was ego-driven with goals of status and man-made prestige, like most people in the world are brought up to be. Jesus turned the world upside down. Jesus led with humility, love of others, and a desire to serve. To follow him requires the same.
I may still be a little bossy, but when I define myself now the first words I use are follower of Christ. If that is what defines me first, everything else is shaped by that. The eleven disciples will always be known first as disciples, followers. Anything else they became or did would be a derivative of that identity, a result of their association with Jesus.
It turns out being a follower isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s the best thing I’ve ever become.
Pastor of Discipleship Materials & Small Groups
Read all of 40 Days of Prayer at easter.crossings.church.