I want to follow Jesus. Don’t you?
When we roll out of bed every morning, our relationship with Jesus is the reason our feet hit the floor. In Jesus we find immeasurable peace and unspeakable joy. He is making us whole.
We don’t wake up to pursue a purpose; Jesus is our purpose. We don’t wake up to reach a goal; Jesus alone is our goal. Everything we long for or want to achieve can be found in him.
Each day as I follow Jesus more closely and understand his love more fully, I become more like him, ready to love the people he loves and serve people in his name. I’m a disciple of Jesus. By definition, that means I adhere to his teachings and am committed to take up his ways. That goes much deeper than just believing in Jesus or admiring his work. Being a disciple means I go beyond knowing who Jesus is; I’m also like him.
In the past, my passion and love for ministry made me hungrier to perfect my leadership. If I could only lead more dynamically, I thought, then surely more kids would become involved in youth ministry. Yet I’ve noticed that when my priority is leading rather than following, my relationship with Jesus feels empty.
Once you become a teacher or minister or leader, you discover your “follower-ship” of Jesus is the true bedrock for every good thing you do. In fact, when you have your own “followers,” it’s even more critical that you continue being an active disciple who’s always ready to learn from Jesus.
If you’re a church worker, it’s tempting to categorize yourself as a professional minister. But your leadership must be defined by your Jesus experience, not by your ministry experience or leadership skills. When your leadership is defined by your Jesus experience, you become a living demonstration for your teenagers of what it means to truly follow him.
Young people don’t just see us leading games, events, or lessons. Instead, they see us worshipping, praying, asking for forgiveness, and saying, “I’m sorry.” They see us making sacrifices by putting other people first. They see a leader who’s following Jesus in such a way that they want to follow him, too.
That’s why following will always be more important than leading—and why you can’t be a strong leader unless you’re a strong follower.