Ioalmost hesitate to write about following as I have written about this subject before and yet I find it a fascinating subject that isn’t written about very often at least in the realm of books. Leadership is, but “followership” isn’t. What exactly does it mean to follow and what was it that sparked the disciples to follow Jesus?
As I read the story of four fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John being called to follow Jesus, I have often wondered how they seemingly suddenly just got up and followed? I’m certain that Jesus had a certain authority and charisma about Him that drew people to Him, but did they know Him before this call? It seems pretty risky to get up, leave your occupation behind, leave everything you’ve ever known to follow someone that you don’t even know. I think they most likely had met up with Jesus before. Maybe when He was teaching the crowds and asked to use their boat or maybe when they were at the synagogue worshipping or perhaps on the streets of their town. I know they had to have at least heard about Him and what they heard drew them, so much so that when Jesus called them to follow, they were ready. They got up and followed without hesitation. They didn’t just follow Him as a personality that they liked much as we follow our favorite sports figure or our favorite band on You-Tube or social media. It was much more than that, they left everything to follow.
I know before when I’ve written about following, I included a word definition. To follow means to come after, to accept leadership, imitate or copy a leader. One dictionary said that the word follow originated from a word meaning to pursue. The word was “full-gan” or “full going.” I love that definition. That’s what the disciples did, they pursued Jesus with “full-going” energy. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t mess-up, because they did, still they followed with all their heart and Jesus transformed them from fishermen to disciples fishing for men. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of following I want to do. I want to follow Jesus and be fully devoted to Him.
MORE ON FOLLOWING JESUS:
How does God lead us? He leads us through His word, through pastors, teachers, friends and others, through gentle nudges, sometimes circumstances and other ways too. One thing we can be sure of is that God will guide us if we ask Him too. He is more interested in leading than we are in following.So what does it mean to follow? I think it means seeking Him with all my heart. It means loving God and loving people. It means receiving His grace and putting Him first. It means giving Him all that I have and trusting Him to use me for His glory.
Do I have it all figured out? No, not at all! I still struggle with knowing what the next step is. I still question. I question if I’m hearing God right or even if I’m hearing Him at all! But I also choose to trust. As I go to Him each day, I trust that He will lead me one moment and one day at a time. Trusting Him also means that I will trust Him to take care of me whether I have a lot or a little, whether I am sick or healthy; I will trust God. And if God does nudge me to give, to serve or simply to let His love shine through, I will trust Him enough to say, “Yes!”
Thank you for all that you have done for me. Thank you for paying the price for my sins by giving your life for me on the cross. Your life alone is enough reason for me to follow you, yet you did even more. You gave everything for me. You gave your life to buy my forgiveness. Then you rose again to lead me into your abundant life. Because you conquered death, I have the promise of resurrection too. I can live forever with you. What an amazing gift that you redeemed me and called me friend! Lord, help me never to forget what you have done for me. Lead and guide me daily that I may follow you with all my heart; much like the disciples did when you called them. I don’t want to follow like we follow our favorite star or favorite celebrity on You-Tube. I want to pursue you with that full-going, no-holds-barred, passion of someone who is sold out to you. Thank you for calling me, being my friend and loving me so very much. Amen
LEARNING TO FOLLOW WELL
I have found it interesting that many of the articles I have come across on following puts most of the responsibility on the teacher. While a good teacher certainly makes his or her directions clear and easier to follow, I believe that we all can take responsibility for following better. Here’s a few tips that I’ve gained both from others and from good old trial and error.
* Choose well who you will follow – some people and some things are not worth following, but Jesus is.
* When following someone, watch carefully what the leader is doing and then either imitate your teacher/leader, like when you are learning a new dance move or follow the directions given like when doing an assignment.
* Lay aside distractions. It’s not easy to really do well two things at once. If you are distracted by other things, you can’t focus on following the leader- that’s true when following Jesus too. If the disciples had kept fishing, they wouldn’t have been able to get up and follow.
* If you don’t understand, ask the leader to clarify the directions. You can ask Jesus for wisdom too. He gives abundantly and He doesn’t reprimand you for asking.
* Listen and respond to the leader.
SHARE A STORY – Jesus Calls Disciples – Matt. 4:18-22, Luke 5:27-28
One day Jesus was walking by the sea. – (Walk, walk, walk.)
He saw – (Hand above eyes.)
Peter and Andrew. Peter and Andrew were fishing. –
(Throw out net with fish inside.)
Jesus called to them, “Come. Follow me.” –
(Put hands by mouth and say together, “Follow me!”)
Peter and Andrew stopped fishing and followed Jesus.
Then Jesus saw – (Hand above eyes.)
James and John. They were in a boat getting ready to catch fish. Jesus called to them, “Come. Follow me.” And they did!
(Put hands by mouth and say together, “Follow me!”)
James and John left their boat and followed Jesus. Jesus chose Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him and learn from Him. They would be His helpers. (Disciples or friends.) They would go everywhere with Jesus and do what Jesus did. Jesus would be their friend all the time.
Jesus wants you to be His friend and follow Him too. He will go everywhere with you. He is a very good friend. You can learn more about Jesus when you listen to stories from the Bible. Jesus will help you grow up wise and strong because He is your friend.
I want you to be my friend. Help me to love you by listening and learning from the Bible. Thank you for loving me. Amen
MEMORIZE: Luke 2:52 CEV – (Hold hands open like holding a book.)
“Jesus” – (Touch fingers of hand to palm of other hand, repeat.)
“Became wise and” – (Point to forehead.)
“He grew.” – (Squat down and then slowly stand up.)
“Strong” – (Show muscles.)
“God was pleased with Him.” – (Point up and then clap hands.)
THE MAIN IDEA:
KNOW: I can follow Jesus.
TALK ABOUT: What it means to follow …
ASK: Who wants to be your friend? Jesus wants to be my friend.
AND DO: Choose to follow.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
* Play “Follow The Leader.” Talk about how you can follow Jesus or do what Jesus would do.
* Practice following directions by giving your child fun directions to follow such as hop over to your bed, walk like an elephant, etc. Then let your child give you some fun directions. Talk about why it’s important to follow directions especially God’s directions.