No person is free from following another’s leading. Humanity consists of followers and leaders and we all hold both offices at the same time. We follow someone and at the same time may be a leader to another. Who leads us will directly impact how we will lead others. Therefore to know who to follow is a serious reality with implications beyond ourselves. Careful who it is you follow. Careful who leads you.
Augustine on Who Not To Follow
The world beckons us to follow these “learned” men. The world tells us to seek after fame and popularity, for this is where real meaning lies. The world says we are to be New York Times Bestsellers, world renowned athletes, country altering politicians, billionaire financial moguls, and even mega church pastors. And it says the way to become these, to assent to this magnanimity in life is to follow their “do whatever it takes to get ahead” example. The world wants us to follow those in the world who have “amounted to something.” These are our culture’s “learned men” that Augustine sought to imitate. But we must be careful who we follow.
Who Then Shall We Follow? There are however people worth following with our lives. These people aren’t simply those who live not simply for self gain and fame. The people we are called to follow are themselves people who follow one individual, Jesus Christ. In Mark 8:34 we see the fundamental calling that constitutes a Christian is to follow: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” To be a Christian, to be a disciple of Christ, is fundamentally to be a Christ follower. Christ has lived a perfect life and gifted to us His righteousness since we cannot attain perfection ourselves. However this does not give us license to live as one who does not follow Christ, as one seeking to live according to God’s will. We must be careful that it is Christ we follow as Christians.
While Christ is our ultimate example of who we are to imitate with our lives, God has also provided other examples. Paul commends to Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” There are Christian leaders who lead us and encourage us as we follow Christ in this life. It is precisely because these leaders lead us towards to one individual that we are called to imitate perfectly that we can be sure that they are wise to follow. When a leader shows by his life that it is Christ he follows, then we can learn a lot about what it means to be a Christian. We are not in this alone. We are called to follow.
Our Charge to Follow And so we are left with a charge from Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” The author of Hebrews charges each and every Christian to follow those leaders who, by their life, reflect the calling of the Christian: to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Be careful that the persons you follow are not following the way of the world, the way of fame and popularity. But instead be careful that who you follow is the kind of leader that leads you to Jesus and be careful that you lead people not to vain glory, but to glory in the one in whom nothing is vain. Soli Deo Gloria.