Recently I stepped briskly off a flight and made a beeline for the exit intent on getting home quickly and making the most of the day since I was going to be off again the next day, and this time on a lengthy trip. A handful of people walked ahead of me and I followed. Suddenly I found myself standing in front of the entrance to the rest rooms and stopped short, wondering how I had managed to miss my way and end up there. Seeing my perplexity, the people following me also stopped short, and for a few seconds we were united in puzzlement at the strange location in which we suddenly found ourselves and half thinking, what on earth happened to the exit, we couldn’t have missed it? But we had. And not only had we missed our way, we had lost our preeminence ahead of the queue for those behind had now moved ahead of us and we had to make our way back.
How did we miss it? We were following people who were not going where we wanted to go. We naturally assumed we were heading to the same place, we were not vigilant, and we missed it. They did not, consequently they were not surprised at where they found themselves, they had gone their intentionally. It was their destination. As I walked away, this time in the right direction, several questions began rolling over my mind. That simple anecdote is a powerful illustration for people’s lives. I thought of how many people simply follow and do not ask themselves where the person they are following is taking them. Question, what is your destination? And the people you are following, what is theirs? Will following them take you where you want to go? Have you even ever thought about it? Who determines the destination? Do you follow them because they are nice or because they are going somewhere?
Looking through the Scriptures you find characters with a sense of purpose and destination. Jeremiah had a destiny, David had a destiny, Abraham had a destiny, and so did Paul, Peter, Mary etc. So do you, and the people you follow will either take you there or keep you away. Many people are not conscious of having a destination, their ambition is to have a nice job, a decent home, watch films on weekend and stay out of trouble. If that is you, you don’t need to be fussy; anyone who is not a criminal will do for you to follow. But if you are one of these people who feel an itch in their spirit to make a difference in their generation, then you must be clear as to your destination, and nice music and a great ushering service is not enough for you to decide to walk in the footsteps of someone and make them your pastor. That is selling your birthright for a plate of food. What you carry matters, where will it be developed and taken to the next level?
Next, what is the destination of the people you are following? Why does it matter? Because if you follow them you will end up where they are end up, so you had better be going there too. When you join a congregation, you need to find out what the vision of the leadership is, what God has called them to do, what their destination is. It’s not about how cute they look on the platform, how good their Sunday school or their choir is. I follow because I identify with their destination, they are going where I want to go and if I follow in their footsteps, I will get there. That’s what happened to David’s mighty men. A ragtag bunch of unruly men were turned into giant slayers and mighty men because they followed a man who was a giant slayer and a mighty man. They want from grass to grace, from the dregs of society to the palace, because that was their leader’s destination.
And finally when you choose to follow a person or persons don’t try to impose your destination on them. Followership is a choice. A leader goes where he is sent, a follower of a leader chooses to follow because he identifies with the leader and with the destination, but he does not decide the destination. That is usurping authority. And much of the trouble we have with people and in our churches would cease if people were very clear about who determines the destination and what do I do when the destination does not suit me? Whoever determines the destination ostensibly has cogent reasons for doing so, they may have been in a place with God and caught a vision of things that to you make no sense because you were not there, you were not invited, it was not your place. Those people I followed out of the aircraft had a valid reason for heading for the rest rooms as soon as we landed, I had a reason for heading for the exit; it was my choice to follow them, an unwise decision as I had no idea our destinations were so dissimilar. And when I realized it, I changed course. I did not make them change course. I had no right to do so.
So where are you going and who are you following? Not everybody can give direction to your life. Your current position reflects the direction in which you have taken your life and those people you have allowed to lead you. And if you do not like where you are, perhaps you need to redefine who the leaders in your life are. Some people are nice, but they should not lead you, some people make good chicken soup but they do not even understand your destiny. Follow people who have a clear destination, who see you as having a destination, and who are willing to have you along on the road with them. A leader is not someone who keeps you company and makes you tea. A leader is someone who moves forward purposefully and following them takes you to where you ought to be. Will you end up at your destination or at a dead end? Choose carefully who you will follow.