Watching my friend getting baptized this weekend, one gentleman who preceded him stated he WAS a believer, but NOW is a FOLLOWER. That comment really resonated with me because for many years I have been a believer, but not necessarily a follower. During my walk I have been struggling to find the answer to what He would have me to do, and I realized not long ago I am in the desert because I was not following Him.
I posed this question recently to friends and not surprisingly, some like me, had not considered the difference between the two.
In the military when we were operating in a tactical environment with dozens of people moving around relying solely on their abilities to navigate and find key points to rally, people would often times not be at the assigned point and time in order to gather everyone together to accomplish the mission. The one or two stragglers or folks who got lost, weren't disobeying their leaders or TRYING to fail. Rather, they were simply not following their leaders as closely as they should/could have. They relied on themselves and in the bigger picture, their perspective failed not only them but those around them as well.
When I realized the error of my ways, and made a substantial change, I immediately felt more energized at work despite working 6 days a week for between 8-12 hours. I no longer felt as fatigued and stressed and now my family is benefiting from this. They are no longer getting my leftovers and a grouchy impatient husband and father. I only wish I had been able to accomplish this much earlier for my sons. I was very difficult at times.
So, what is a believer, and, what makes someone a follower?Jesus is a leader today, but he followed God for his first 30 years before stepping fully into the leadership role God the Father had in store for his final 3 years on Earth.
Below He illustrates the first maxim of leadership to Peter by serving or following first before leading men.
|Jesus washes Peter's feet. An act of devotion and serving.|
For example, as a child, we mostly follow our parents' guidance for two reasons; positional authority and our innate belief they have our best interests at heart. This is true even though at times we don't understand why they may "rain on our parade" as it were. We lament to them "but everyone else is doing it (or going)". Sometimes we might rebel and defend it saying to ourselves "They just don't understand", thus justifying our disobedience and the breaking of their trust and wishes.
That doesn't take us away from being their child or even being faithful to them, just as a sheep may stray from the herd doesn't mean it no longer has faith in the shepherd. The child will learn a lesson from the disobedience, which is a part of the growing process, and the sheep likewise, will in kind follow the shepherd once again.
As we grow in our walk and become more and more spiritual as a follower, we learn at a far greater pace what God has in store for us. And we have to- it is simple physiology. When we take our eyes off a distraction and focus on the goal, we accomplish many things. As a follower of Christ, our eyes are, by definition, upon Him and not on the earthly distractions. I firmly feel this is where "Christians" like the ilk of Westboro Baptist are so far astray from the walk with the Lord they are actually doing more harm than good. While they may believe, they are most certainly not following. I can say this with great faith for in John 8:1-11 Jesus forgave the adulterous woman when no legalist remained free of sin to cast the first stone. He forgave the sinner OF the sin, and BECAUSE of the sin. WBC is proclaiming GOD killed our sons in battle because the Army is permitting homosexuals in it's ranks. That viewpoint cannot be reconciled with the heart and teachings of Jesus. It is clearly contradictory to anyone who is truly forgiven.
|A Christian pointing his finger at sin does not realize he has THREE fingers pointing back at himself!|
Furthermore, were there any Truth to their belief, would not ALL soldiers necessarily be condemned to the same sentence as their fallen comrades?
By following, we also receive better discernment on how to contend with sticky situations whether they be professional or personal, like how to help show the light to a non-believer. This is critical for followers, for in order to be a good leader, you must FIRST, be a good follower. This of course is why people cannot simply start at a major corporation as a Vice-President or CEO without the commensurate experience. Likewise, Generals are not born into the army as they used to be but rather molded through experiences as a subordinate. Can you imagine a judge with no legislative experience hearing a case? A doctor having not completely subordinated themselves to their medical professors' experience and leadership? It simply could not happen in this world.
So the question falls to you now. Are you a believer or a follower? If I can make the same type of impact on someone else I just received then that will bless me for my remaining days.