Let the Games Begin
As a child, one of the best parts of the school day was recess. When the time came, it was a stampede to the playground. Some kids veered straight for the slide and monkey bars, not hesitating to knock over any innocent bystander who might impede them. The more introverted group might have been inclined to grab a pleasure reading book on the way out the class and cozy up in a secret spot to read (I was totally this kid). Undoubtedly, there was the group of kids that preferred to play group games. You had your Red Rover, Four Square and Tag. Then there was the ever-popular follow the leader. One lucky kid would get to be the leader and the followers had to mimic everything he did, anything from subtle movements to Daredevil stunts. However, simple as the game may be, it never got under way without a substantial amount of pomp and circumstance. Fast forward 20 years and, thankfully, we’ve all matured to become sensible adults, capable of playing out our individual roles for the sake of the greater good. Or, have we?
Who is “It?”
The infamous school yard conundrum. Everyone wants to be “it.” We all wanted to be the one in charge, the one who made the rules and had a group of people follow our every command. And since we all wanted to be the leader, we fought for the position. No one really had a substantial reason for why he/she deserved to be the leader, but this was irrelevant.
All we knew is that we wanted the top spot and if we had to step on toes, pull some ponytails or turn on the waterworks you better believe we went there.
After some bruises and tears the leader was finally chosen – so the game began and all was well with the world. Not even. There was always the dissenter who wanted to revolt and convince everyone he should be leader instead. This served as another delay of game. Instead of moving forward with the fun, the kids were stuck hashing it out again. About five minutes before the final recess bell chimed we were finally able to squeeze in a couple of rounds before heading back to the classroom.
Who are you following?
As childish as these antics were, fast forward to today and the same mentality can still be spotted, even among those of us who believe the Bible and follow Jesus. We know that God has put our church leaders in place to do His work – not because of their impeccable qualifications but simply because God decided to choose them for the grueling task of tending to His sheep. What’s more, we understand that any God-fearing leader does not lead of his own accord but instead, He closely follows Christ’s directions so he can faithfully lead the flock.
Even with these facts tucked neatly in our brains, our egos can get in the way and we’re left wondering why we need to follow any other human being when we’re just as capable of leading ourselves. Have we ever given thought to what Paul truly meant when he admonished the Corinthian church to “Follow me as I follow Christ?” It’s a lofty calling to be responsible for God’s people. These leaders are required to make sacrifices and take risks that many would balk at. Truthfully, many in these positions have balked themselves at the assignments they’ve been handed. Still, they trudge on faithfully out of obedience to Christ. They endure harsh ridicule, weathering the sticks and stones that break their spirits and words that hurt their hearts. They face difficult tests, attempting to balance the equation of maintaining a healthy family life while building a thriving church. Christ’s example of perfect humility is an aspiration they can never perfectly achieve, yet it continues to be their goal.
So, the question becomes, if we’re not following the leaders God has set in place, then how well are we following Christ? This claim may seem grand but it’s one worth considering. You can choose to go rogue and designate yourself the “real” leader, but if no one is following you’re playing the game incorrectly. In fact, you’re not really playing the game at all. Instead of making your own rules, why not stick to the ones God put in place? Think of it this way: you never know when it’ll be your turn to lead, and when it is I’m sure you’ll appreciate your classmates playing by the rules so you can all enjoy the game.
Written by: Dionna Carter