If I asked you, “how many followers do you have,” how would you respond? Would you report the numbers from your Twitter account? Would you add in your Facebook friends and the people who follow you on Instagram?
Now, let me ask you this: how would you respond if God were the one posing this question: “how many followers do you have?” Sounds a little different, doesn’t it?
We live in an era of social media, a world of followers, friends, links, and likes. On one hand, social media is a fantastic way to stay in touch with people. We can make connections across the globe and spread a message that we feel called to share. There has never before been a generation who could share their thoughts real time with literally thousands of people from all corners of the world.
Social media isn’t just for casual interactions either. Any entrepreneur or business owner will tell you that social media should play a critical role in your marketing plan. From the big time businesses like Apple, to the stay-at-home mom blogger, social media is the way to get a message out to a wide audience. So I, being a person with a message to share, use social media. However. God’s been talking to me lately about the importance of real life connections.
I sensed God asking me this week, “Heather, do you get more excited about a new follower on Twitter or a new disciple who wants to intentionally learn from the way you live your life? Do you even have people in your life who you are intentionally leading? Doesn’t the word ‘follower’ imply that you are leading? Do you get more fired up about getting another ‘like’ on Facebook or when someone says, ‘I like the way you live your life for the Kingdom. How can I be more like you?'”
Ouch. Like mega OUCH.
God’s right. (He always is.) Social media, the internet, and this blog are all great ways for me to share the things I’m hearing from God, but nothing beats real-life, intentional relationship.
And this is what Jesus calls us to do. I don’t feel bad about wanting to be a leader. It’s not a pride thing; it’s what I’m supposed to do. Jesus was given authority from God, and He passed that authority on to us. We should have followers!
Matthew 28 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’”
Paul, one of the ultimate disciple-makers said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” And earlier he said, “…in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”
God wants us to have an intentional leadership role in the lives of others, like a father with a son. But we ourselves are to be followers first, followers of Christ and other Christ-like people, so we can say as Paul did, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” Wow. What a powerful statement. That’s the kind of life I want to live, the kind where I can confidently say, “Do you want a more Kingdom life? Then follow me!” How awesome would that be?
So to all of you, my online followers, I am pledging to be be more open, more honest, more vulnerable, and more intentional in the small leadership role I play in your life. But offline, I am going to be even more dedicated to scouting out people that I can lead and disciple one on one, and I’m challenging you to do the same. We don’t need to be perfect, Christ-like people (we never will be), we just need to be slightly farther along so we can reach back and help pull someone else forward.
So I’d like to share something with you, a tool that provides leadership from me and a resource that you can use to lead others. I recently published a companion study guide for my novel, The Book of Life: The Greatest Story Ever Told. And if you haven’t already downloaded your copy, I’d like to share it with you… FOR FREE! I had the opportunity to use this study to build into a group of people last year as I developed the workbook. It was an amazing experience, and I want to share it with you! I poured my heart into this study, sharing the things that God has taught me about living in His story. This is an opportunity for you to follow and also lead. Transformation comes when we live in God’s story. Make your story look like His so you can boldly say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ!”