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.
Suzie and Tracy are your typical suburban moms. They are both college educated working professionals who choose to stay home when their children were born. When the last of their children went off to school, they began to feel a stirring in their spirit. They began to wonder, “How can I make the most out of my life?” Their friends suggested they get a part-time job, but neither of them desired more money. What they both desired was to make a difference in the world.
Suzie believed that she was called by God to do something but did not know what. She signed up for a women’s retreat at her church. There she heard an amazing speaker share how she had discerned God call to work with the homeless. Suzie was moved and felt God calling her to invest her life in serving the poor. She left the retreat on fire and determined to follow God’s call.
Like Suzie, Tracy knew that God was calling her to something of significance but she could not discern what that something was. She began telling her friends about her desire and someone suggested that she contact a woman in their church who had followed God’s call and was serving the urban poor. So, Tracy called up the woman, Wanda, and they agreed to meet.
Tracy was inspired by Wanda’s journey and asked Wanda if she would help her discern her own unique call. Wanda agreed. Over the next several months, Wanda and Tracy went on walks, exchanged emails and Tracy began serving alongside Wanda in the inner city. Tracy was moved by the stories of complete strangers who had gone through so much and who were praising God in the midst of their trials. As she saw God in unlikely places and people, Tracy’s faith began to grow in ways she had never experienced.