Freedom?

We just celebrated Independence Day in the U.S this past weekend. A time for us to reflect on being free from the control of the King of England and what being free really means. It is ironic that our road to freedom started with riots and protests. Also ironic, at this point in our history, the U.S. is still struggling to be “the land of the free”. We have racial inequality that honestly has never been resolved. Our forefathers and the founders of our democracy were slave owners; it was an unfortunate part of life in those times. No human being should ever be owned. In fact, when you look back in history, the human race was pretty barbaric towards one another. In the Roman Colosseum, they watched “man vs. beast” events for entertainment. So, owning another human being wasn’t too far removed. Sure, over time these events stopped but it was over 1800 years before slavey did.

The United States declared war on itself over this very issue in 1861. Citizen fought citizen over the “right” to own another human being. For four years, this war went on and it is estimated that as many as 750,000 people died. Despite efforts ensure that “All men are created equal” and the changes to the constitution ensuring “equality”, the reality was that things were never equal; for another 100 years, racial inequality persisted. The Civil Rights act of 1964 was supposed to “fix” it but here we are in 2020 and we still have not achieved balance.

So why this tirade, you might ask? The hypocrisy is killing me! For weeks I’ve been hearing, watching and reading “Christians” go on about statues and rioting without the slightest care toward the HUMAN BEINGS involved in this issue. No one is talking or writing about the racial inequities that exist – they never did, and they aren’t now. Myself included! None of us can truly understand the challenges of being Black in America (or the world) but we should surely be empathetic and work toward solutions that genuinely put everyone on a level playing field. I’m not talking about wealth distribution, but we’ve got to invest in strategies that will work. In leadership, I often say that a vision is needed for people to get behind a leader. What do we envision our future looking like? When you strip away all of the politics, all of the “I’ve got mine” beliefs, and the other distractions, ask yourself what is really on your heart and who put it there?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

God knows we are easily distracted; look how long it took for Eve to get distracted/tempted from the one rule they had “Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden”? God set in our minds and hearts that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. This isn’t a “microwave” solution: fast and when we want it. The lesson here is that we need to become immersed in God’s word, seek him with all of our heart; not just a minute or two and only when we need Him. The only true way forward in today’s world is with a God loving heart and spirit.

Spend time with God, everyday. If you are like everyone who receives e-mails, you’ll read 15 minutes of “funny” e-mails, check the stories on a news website or spend an hour looking at the feed on Twitter. Are you devoting that much time to seeking the Lord with all your heart? God is always accessible to hear your prayers, accept your thanks, receive your praise and forgive your sins. God can be that old friend who you tell all of your secrets to but like your dearest of friends, it doesn’t happen overnight. God has done so much for us and He just asks for us get close to Him and to seek Him with all your heart.

Know How and Why you are Following?

Why do people follow those in Leadership positions? Is it because they HAVE to or is it because they are inspired to? We have many people whom we choose to follow and for a number of other reasons besides being inspired or being forced to because of their position. Some we follow because they are fighting the cause that we believe in (shared ideology) or some because they represent the same group that we associate with. What happens when our ideology or group association no longer line up with “norms” of the leader(s)? How do we lead others in our own lives; through coercion or inspiration? How/what are we following?

In our lives, we are all leaders or followers depending on the situation. At home, you may be the leader and other times, you are the follower – just ask a long-married man what role he has most often. Good followers, however, do not follow the leader blindly; they first understand the mission of the leader and follow them to make things better. What kind of a follower are you? Generally speaking, followers inspire others and in turn become leaders.

Even designated leaders must learn to be good followers. Unfortunately, we often see people in leadership positions who demand allegiance from their followers but they fail to act in the same way to those they follow. What kind of follower are you? Do you demand from those you lead something you won’t give as a follower yourself or do you leave your followers in the dark about where you are headed? Leadership is advanced ten-fold when we lead by setting a good example. The bottom line is that we all need to work toward common goals for the betterment of the greater good. Effective leadership and followership foster an atmosphere that inspires innovation, allows people time to explore ideas and be creative which will pay dividends in morale and may produce better results and make the changes that are needed.

“Come, follow me,“Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19

Jesus provided us with great examples of leadership. He was a great follower too – he fulfilled the prophets, flawlessly obeyed the Ten Commandments and never wavered in His ideology through and with His Father’s will. We will never be perfect, but we can use Jesus’ examples in our lives. When Jesus said “I will make you fishers of men” we know it was his way of saying: I will give you the tools, the strength, the time, the understanding, the guidance and an example to follow so that you, my disciples, will lead people to me.

Despite His followers set backs, Jesus was always there to pick them up, help them understand and lead another day. He gave them opportunities to serve and circumstances to teach the Word of God. Are you a fisher of men? The Lord has blessed you by putting you in a unique position as both a leader and a follower. Remember what Jesus did, how he led, and put that to good work. The work of a follower is important to. Understand the mission and do your best. Reading the bible, daily devotions and deliberate Christian living are keys to being a good follower and you will attract those that need a leader. In the end, you are already a fisher of men.