Have you ever had someone tell you “Stick with me”? Whether in a conversation or a crowded place, this phrase can be uttered when something important is coming that shouldn’t be missed. We are easily distractable and this verbal cue can help us come back to what we should be focusing on.
I feel like this is what Paul is saying in his first letter to the Corinthian church—a book jam-packed with important lessons and weighty truths. He hits hard and addresses some serious sin and heart issues; 1 Corinthians is not for the faint of heart. Have you ever imagined what that letter would’ve felt like if it were written to you? To your church? What if a letter was read aloud by your pastor addressing all of the current problems that exist within your church community? That’s exactly what this letter was!
After fatherly rebukes and the illumination of God’s incredible grace for the brokenness of humanity, Paul inserts a few little words that jump off the page every time I read them.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
This is such a simple sentence, yet it is jam-packed with meaning. Honestly, I’m convicted as I’m writing this because I know that I have not been leading people like Jesus led. Because my followership hasn’t been the best, my leadership has been lacking. And that’s a hard truth to swallow.
But I am comforted by the fact that Paul was an imperfect man who was doing his best to lead a bunch of unruly people as they were trying to figure out how to do church. Paul was rough around the edges and, honestly, I would probably have a hard time following him just because of his personality. Yet, he was doing the best that he could to lead people well even though he had no idea what he was doing or where he was going. He was literally walking by faith daily as the baby church was being formed.
Paul’s humanity not only encourages me to accept the grace and help from God, but it also challenges me to follow Jesus more closely. If I want to be a good leader (which I do), I need to follow Jesus. It’s that simple and that difficult. I’m realizing that if I’m having trouble following the leadership in my life, I’m likely also having a problem following Jesus. Or if I’m struggling to lead people well, it’s possible that I’ve lagged behind Christ, instead of sticking with him as I should.
I’m learning that if we want to be good leaders, we must learn to be good followers.
I believe that we are likely all leading in some way. It could be at work or school or church or within your family. It’s very likely that there is someone who is currently looking up to you or leaning upon you for direction. And this often feels daunting and difficult, especially when we don’t know all the answers. But I wonder how our lives and our jobs, schools, churches, and families might look like if we chose to focus on following Christ first. How would our decisions, actions, and words change if they oozed followership because we’re sticking close to Jesus?
I’m not sure that I have an answer, but in a world that’s currently hungry for true leadership—leading like Jesus—I think I’m willing to give it a more concerted effort. What have we got to lose other than things like pride and selfishness that we don’t really want to begin with?
Let’s follow Christ and then invite others along for the journey!
Do you think there’s a correlation between leading and following?
How do you think following Christ equips you to lead others?