When I was growing up, the street that my parents lived on was an average street, but to me it was the best street. There was a dozen or so kids on my street that were all the same age as me. We moved into our home when I was 8 years old, which is the perfect “boy” age when thinking about a life of playing with friends.
It didn’t take long for all the neighbors to come and welcome my mom and dad to the neighborhood, which meant that my brother and I got to meet all the kids! We quickly became friends.
Over the years, our friendship grew in so many ways. We started in elementary school together and then on to Jr. High School, and even High School. At each level, we all pursued different activities where some of us excelled and… some of us didn’t. A lot of my friends were good athletes and did well in team sports. I was good at sports, but wouldn’t say that I excelled. I loved to sing. I even loved to sing in front of people. As a matter of fact, I loved to sing in front of people so much that I began to develop my ability so that I would be recognized in a greater way. So, what did I do? I joined the choir where I was eventually chosen as a soloist. I sang in different choral programs and found it to be very rewarding. In High School, I became interested in clubs and organizations that impacted my community. I ended up attending many meetings and eventually became club president!
What’s my point? I needed recognition. I grew up as an identical twin. As a young boy, this was more than “ok”, but as I grew up, I found that I wanted my own identity. That’s why recognition became so important to me.
The years after High School were different than what I thought. I thought that everyone who I had known as a young boy would stick around and we would always be close friends, but I was wrong. All of us packed up, moved on and eventually lost touch. All of a sudden, I felt like I was on an island all by myself. My life just got SERIOUS. It was now my responsibility to form my own destiny. I needed someone who already knew what I would be facing to follow for a while so I could learn from them and then take it from there. I needed a mentor, a life coach, someone! The problem however? There was no one to teach me. Everyone had their own agendas and it was clear that I was on my own.
I continued my search to find someone to follow for years and years. I found some men over the years that I thought were leaders but found out later they were not. I had no invitation from anyone to follow. They “talked the talk” but didn’t “walk the walk”. So, I began my quest to be my own leader by learning as much as I could as I went along. It was sort of “on the job training” but ended up being a very bad decision.
Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”
I was on the path of becoming my own expert. At first, I saw that if I put in the work, there was a payoff. In some areas of business, I became very successful. I was promoted and found life in a leadership role to be very satisfying. The problem was I wasn’t sharing anything I learned. I figured it out; others should do the same. Right? Wrong.
My business pursuits were prospering and I thought I had made it! Boy, was I wrong. Without even knowing it, my selfish pride was leading me to destruction. Eventually, my pride became more than I could handle and I lost everything.
Why?! Why?! Why?! I often asked myself this. How could I have let this happen? I was at my end. I had no one to look up to anymore and as an adult, I was wanting to be that boy again. At the very end of my rope, I found someone who was willing to step into my situation and disciple me.
Disciple, in this case, is a verb that simply means, “To teach; to train.” I finally found someone I could learn from. Discipleship is: looking for the kind of people we can join in relationship that are going to show us the right way to live. My “someone” was willing to show me how to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I listened to him. I found an adult who knew what I refused to listen to before. I found an adult that was willing to spend the necessary time with me to disciple me. But even in this critical process, I learned a very important truth: only he could do so much for me. I still had one important choice to make, and that was the ultimate choice. Would I CHOOSE to live for Christ or continue to live for myself and end up on the path that leads to ultimate destruction? I chose life!
Friends, we need to make good choices. Even wise choices. Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” A living example and pattern is much easier to follow as we see life lived out. I now find myself submitting to the leadership of Jesus Christ and His Word. My relationship with Jesus is the single most important relationship I have. He is my guide and He because He’s alive, He is my living example!
I encourage you to take time and listen to this week’s podcast, “Who are you following?” http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2 I promise it will challenge you and change you.
We are all headed in a particular direction. Each one of us is following someone or some “thing”. Are we following a pattern that leads to eternal life with Jesus or are we headed towards an earthly destination of destruction? Jesus is calling you… “Follow Me.” Will you follow Him?