During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.
The word designated for March 24th is “Follow.”
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27
What does it mean to follow? Who do you follow? Does anyone follow you? If so, why?
To follow in a religious or faith way is a wonderful thing. But for a minute, I have to admit I remember one of the favorite lessons of Dr. Jean Lipman-Blumen at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management. Jean would often ask in class, “Do you know what the definition of follower is?” Rhetorically of course, that could mean “one who goes or comes after or along with someone or something or another’s teachings (like a disciple).” The disciple piece is a good one, but in terms of leadership, the idea of follower can sometimes get a frown. She suggested instead of follower, to consider the idea of one being a “constituent,” because there is a bit more of an active element in that role. The term implies a level of some importance, like as being a voter or “necessary to the whole.”
With that perspective, what might we gleam about being a follower if we think of such as a constituent? For me, it is a nice tweak to an often perceived more passive role. To be fair, the disciples and apostles are not passive. But in today’s use of the term, a follower seems passive. When I think about it though, I like the idea of us as constituents, because it recognizes that we are more than just quiet or silly sheep following God (though that’s generally how we usually act). We are capable, called and equipped with particular gifts, vocations and passions which can be used in God’s work in the world. That’s more than just being some “follower.” That’s being a leader, but it’s also being part of God’s mission, a constituent of God’s mission and a steward of God’s gifts.
When thinking about your life, leadership and/or ministry, how are you a leader? How are you a constituent? How are you a follower? What implications do these answers have for your faith journey?