Following, followers… it’s all a bit of a loaded term nowadays, isn’t it? In 2020, the word follow might be more likely to conjure up the notion of social media in your mind rather than the old standby meaning of actually –you know—going anywhere.
But way back when I was a kid, “follow” made me instantly think of just one thing.
In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda tells Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road because it would take her to the right destination: the Wizard and her ticket back to the arms of Auntie Em. She had a path marked out because she had someplace she needed to be. Now, there were obstacles along the way and her trip home didn’t end the way she thought it would – but the road she was following did lead her to the Emerald City, as promised.
On the other hand, the Lost Boys’ game of following the leader was much more precarious than Dorothy’s journey. Instead of following a marked path, the Lost Boys followed John – and as it turned out, John didn’t know his way around Neverland. They followed him right into a trap set by Tiger Lily’s father.
A Path or A Person
That’s the thing about following. Whoever, or whatever, we follow has the ability to take us where we want and need to go… or lead us into dangerous territory.
Now, turn that coin over. Consider for a moment: who is following you?
In your real life, I’m sure there are people who are going right where you lead them. They’re buying a product because you raved about it, or listening to a podcast that you recommended. If you’re a parent or a teacher, kids are following your approach to coping with hard times or they’re hoping to follow your footsteps to an alma mater.
Click to Follow
And then, there’s our social media lives. It’s interesting to me that so many platforms use the word “followers.” When you click that little button on Twitter, is the person whose 280-character missives caught your attention really leading you anywhere?
I’d like to suggest that you are leading. So the question is, what direction are you taking your followers? Is it a destination worth visiting? Whether you are leading people toward brands and products, opportunities or inspiration, they are following you.
I believe that we are all accountable to God for the way we influence others.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
Does that scare you? Please, please, don’t be scared. (Well. I mean, take it seriously. Be sober-minded about the impact of those words. But don’t be afraid!)
Here’s the thing: we all need to be mindful of our words and our deeds, the photos we post and the memes we share. Those who are following us can either be helped –edified, encouraged, rebuked when necessary, pointed toward Jesus – or they can be hindered by the way we lead.
Everyone’s got followers. Where are you taking yours?
One final note: I’d be a lousy friend if I didn’t close by reminding you of the ONE person you can always trust to lead you.
Your husband is going to get it wrong sometimes. Your friend will point you toward a product that turns out to be a dud, or your mom will give you directions to her favorite store and get you totally lost on some back roads, or your favorite influencer will turn out to be photoshopping everything.
Human beings aren’t always worth following. But you can trust the One who said:
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:26
I will follow Him.