Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Who Are You Following?

Be Intentional About Who or What You Follow

We could not find our friend who was supposed to meet us in the parking lot. He had gone to get his car so he could follow us to the restaurant. But he was nowhere to be found.

As we stood waiting and wondering where our friend could be, Steve drove up and asked if we had seen John, another friend. Steve was supposed to meet John and follow him to another restaurant. But, like our friend, John was nowhere to be found.

Then it occurred to us that the missing person had probably followed John by mistake. A quick phone call and we discovered that was exactly what had happened- and neither of them knew it until my phone call. Our friend saw a vehicle that he thought was mine and away he went. John saw a car following and thought it was Steve.

A simple mistake. We understood what had happened and all of us had a good laugh. No harm had been done. But that is not always the case.

In the situation I just described the consequences were only momentary inconvenience or embarrassment. It really made no difference in the grand scheme of things. No long term effect. This is not always true.

Sometimes we unintentionally follow the wrong person or principle. Our motivation and intention may be right but we make a mistake in judgment. We may be able to easily adjust our course before any damage is done. On other occasions our decision has a negative effect on us or others. At times we are lead astray by selfish desires, misguided priorities, stubbornness, or other destructive impulses. Whatever the reason- we must be careful who we follow. And if we discover we are headed in the wrong direction it is important to correct our mistake as soon as possible.

We need to also be careful how we lead. Someone will follow. No matter what path we take, someone will likely be right behind us. Children. Spouse. Friends. Co-workers. Folks we don't really know. Following in our footsteps.

One of my favorite songs is "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. He tells the story of his son from birth to adulthood. In the early years the boy wanted the time and attention of his father but Dad was too busy. The young boy wanted to be just like his Dad. In later years when the parent has retired and the son has a family and responsibilities of his own, he is too busy to have time for his father. Sadly, he has become just like his father. We lead by example and we must be careful how we lead.

This week we begin the season of Lent. As we move through this period of reflection and self-examination, let us be intentional about who or what we follow. Will we follow the light of Christ that leads to resurrection and new life? Or will we follow the darkness that leads to eternal death? Let us be careful how we lead. Let us allow the light of Christ to shine upon and through us that others may follow our example and discover Jesus, who is Light and Life.

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," the enewsletter of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]