As children, one of the first games we learn to play is “follow the leader.” As a child, I recall everyone fighting to be the leader. I think it is fair to say that as a society, we value “leaders” above “followers.” While it is true that all movements begin with a leader, as this humorous video demonstrates, it is the first followers who are key to any movement. Click here to view video.
In my post “A Tale of Two Women”, I share a vision of how we might mobilize more Christian’s to follow Christ and move beyond the pew and into transformative relationships with the most vulnerable in our world. In my allegorical tale, “Wanda” represents someone who has successfully moved beyond the sanctuary walls and who becomes “lived theology”; the “Body of Christ” in the world. I know a lot of “Wanda’s” and while they are unique, all of them followed someone else who set an example for them. They were all “first followers.” “Wanda’s” are key to the advancement of a any movement of faith.
We all need Wanda’s in our lives; people who challenge us to take our faith to the next level. Wanda’s come in all shapes, sizes, and genders. They come from both sides of the bridge; from every race, class and religious background. I have many Wanda’s in my life and I want to publicly recognize three who are shaping my life right now. Pat Henfling, my seventy-six year old Catholic spiritual mentor who introduced me to the value of silence and stillness in the Christian journey. Martha Rollins who has demonstrated grace under the tremendous pressures of being an Executive Director of the faith-based urban focused non-profit, Boaz and Ruth. And, Janie Walker my co-laborer who is teaching me the gift of creating space for reflecting and sharing life together.
These three women are “Christ” to me. It is through the way that they live their theology that I have come to understand deeper truths of the Christian faith; truths I could never have learned from a bible study or mere words. While all three consistently share passages of scripture with me, the scriptures are shared in the context of doing life together. Their lives have witnessed to me in ways too deep for words alone to reach. They have instructed me the way Jesus instructed his first followers; by sharing their lives with me and by inviting me into the mystery of their own journeys. They continually beacon me to come follow just a little farther in this crazy journey called the Christian life. I don’t always like the lessons they are teaching me, but I know that they are doing so out of genuine love for me.
For the past six weeks, I have been participating in a training program for missional leaders. As a part of the training we were asked “Who are you leading and who is leading you?” Whether we realize it or not, we are all following someone and we are all being followed.
What lessons are you learning from those you are following? What lessons do you hope to teach to those who are following you?
I know there have been seasons in my life where I desperately wanted a “Wanda” to guide me and there appeared to be none.