Look behind you.
Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.
Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.
Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.
Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.
That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?
All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead.
Who Are You Drafting?
Just as people follow your influence, you’re a follower, too. That said, let me address the that knee-jerk canned answer first: “I follow Jesus.” Ready? Here goes:
Of course you do.
There. That wasn’t so bad, was it? If you say you are a follower of Christ, who am I to question that? My concern isn’t whether you intend to or actually are following Jesus as your primary influence. My concern is who or what else you’re following. And the sheer number of possibilities is endless.
Everybody is following something, and it’s usually a mixed bag. We follow people. We follow a vision. We follow a philosophy, teaching, or set of beliefs. We also follow habits, ruts, and established life patterns. And when people follow us, they’re following in the same direction.
Just think of the number of people – past and present – whose trails you follow. People you know personally. People you admire. People you aspire to become like. People who have scarred you and you still nurse the scars (you’re following them, too, in a sad kind of way).
Less visible than that, you follow a set of beliefs. Those beliefs may be helpful or destructive, true or false, empowering or limiting. But they are truth-as-you-know-it and every day of your life you align your behavior to your beliefs.
You also follow your vision of the future. That, too, is a mixed bag. What do you want? What makes you excited or afraid of tomorrow? What do you expect to happen? What compels you to keep going? What do you dream of, to the point that you’re willing to speak of it and act on it?
The Principle is Simple
Jesus said, “Follow Me,” but He was following the voice and vision of His Father, and His mission.
Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
The one thing that determines where you are leading people is who or what you’re following.
If you don’t like where they’re going, change who or what you’re following.
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