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Follow Me

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Years ago when we were living in Northern California, our family drove into the mountains to enjoy the fresh winter snowfall. At a rest stop along the way, I decided to walk into a beautiful snow-covered field to get a better look at the mountains. I assumed the rest of my family was still in the car, and I had no idea anyone was following me. Then I heard the voice of my four-year-old son: “Take smaller steps, Dad. I’m walking where you walk.”

I looked back to see this cute little guy giving it everything he had to get through the deep snow by walking in my footsteps.

In one of those moments with which God loves to surprise us, I heard the voice of the Father build upon my son’s words, saying, “Guard your steps, Son. People are walking where you walk.”

No matter who you are, someone is following you today. Listen closely, and you will hear the voice of him or her saying, “I’m walking where you walk.”

To make sure our lives are worth following, let me suggest three questions to ask ourselves. Please remember we ultimately want people to follow Jesus, but they will start by following us.

1. Is my life leading people to an encounter with Jesus?

When you follow someone around for any length of time, you run into his politics, church polity, or theological systems. Now it’s certainly not wrong to have positions or opinions, but if people don’t encounter Jesus through our lives, they will miss the gospel no matter how “pure” our theology.

When he began following Christ, Paul didn’t trade in his Jewish theological system for a Christian theological system. His heart and passion were to “know Christ,” “gain Christ,” and “be found in Christ” (Phil. 3:7–11) so that others would encounter Christ through him.

When I first became the dean at Alliance Theological Seminary, Dr. Paul Siu was our professor of systematic theology. Dr. Siu loved theology and was a passionate instructor. The highlight of his lectures was when he began to speak about Jesus, which he couldn’t do without his eyes welling up with tears of love.

One day, at the height of one of his most impassioned discourses on theology, he interrupted himself and said, “Please know that I will never die for theology. I will only die for Jesus!” When people took theology from Dr. Siu, they always encountered Jesus.

My most significant mentors always led me to Jesus when I followed them. While people may love and follow me at first, I always want them to end up in love with Jesus. 

2. Is my life making an eternal impact?

This is not a question rooted in breadth of ministry or wide popularity. This is a question about depth and eternal impact in the lives of the people we encounter.

Photo by Kenneth Crane

My dad never pastored a church larger than 400 people, but the eternal impact of his life is significant. My dad taught me that making a difference in people’s lives was far more important than the size of one’s paycheck.

On my last trip back home, an older man and his wife came up to me and said, “Dr. Walborn, you don’t know us, but we came to know Jesus through your father’s ministry. Our lives were changed forever because of your dad.”

As a result, I have always looked for mentors who are having the kind of eternal impact I want to have. I unashamedly “attach” myself to them with tenacity and grit. I want to follow them and learn everything I can from them.

I believe in biblical impartation that comes from long-term accountability and connection. In addition to my dad,  men like John Wimber and Terry Wardle were my early mentors who helped shape my vision for a life of eternal impact. Life is too short to spend it only paying bills. I want the impact of my life to last long after I’m gone.

3. Is my life marked by joy? 

Life is painful and is often marked by profound sadness. I cannot deny that reality, and I have had my fair share of it. But brothers and sisters, we serve and live in a reality that is not just of this world. We are citizens of a higher Kingdom and a grander economy.

Romans 14:17 says our new Kingdom is marked by “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” At the risk of sounding trite, let me exhort you to learn how to have fun!

I have a group of friends who bring me more joy than I could ever describe with words. I have laughed more with Mike Plunket, Rob Reimer, Martin Sanders, and Kelvin Walker than most people do in a lifetime.

Rob, Martin, and I were doing a pastor’s conference a few years ago when we were asked to do an impromptu talk on “how to build fun-filled friendships” like the pastors had observed in us. People are desperate for friends and some fun in this often painful life.

The fun I am speaking of here goes deeper than circumstantial happiness. It is the joy of the Lord that allows us to laugh even in pain. That kind of joy and fun is contagious, and the world needs more of it. A leader who exudes deep joy and knows how to have fun will never lack for followers.

I want people to follow Jesus. I would rather not have people focus on me. But it appears that the plan of God is to lead others to Him through our living examples.

Jesus, give us lives worth following that You may be found in the end.

4 responses to Follow Me

  1. Bam! Perfect!
    Each point a well aimed
    shot fired in a volley of practical truths, and each one landing on target…the “why” of human relationship in the context of our “visible” christian faith. I mean other part is that secret part hidden in God, right? But this the part where get to shine our light so that as we know Him others will too, as they see Him in us. It’s hard to imitate someone you either don’t know very well, or don’t have much exposure to. But the other side of that coin is we impact most the people around us, and we’re often not aware of it. Good job Dr W.

  2. Well written thank you for sharing Ron I could relate to laughing with Pastor Mike he definitely was influential in bringing joy back into my life! There are so many truths in this article I think key is humility and always pointing to strength as being from God not of yourself. Love and miss you

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