Without the white dots, I’m not sure what I would have done.
My Sabbath Hike yesterday took me through a section of our local geography that we call The Dells, an impressive region of granite outcroppings northeast of our town. The trail around Watson Lake crosses through this beautiful and challenging scenery – my mind and heart remember the beautiful part, and my sore legs today remind me of the challenging part.
The trail pretty much disappears when it reaches these granite boulders, and you could wander for hours in and out of the canyons. Fortunately, someone took pity on hikers and marked the trail with small dots of white spray paint. If they could speak, they would say, “This is the right path. Walk this way. Follow us.” I was grateful for that anonymous guide, glad that someone had found a productive rather than destructive use for spray paint in a natural setting. I trusted the dots.
My appreciation for those directions made me think of one of the boldest statements ever made by the Apostle Paul. In a letter to a group of somewhat immature Christ-followers in Greece, he said to them, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Think about that for a minute. Paul was laying down a series of white dots. He said to his friends (and to some who would not have considered themselves his friends), “Follow me. Be imitators of me. Take the path that I have taken, live your life the way I am living mine. It will be the right path, because I am following Jesus. In following me, you will follow Him.”
This is a far cry from what often seems to be the theme of our generation: “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.” In our attempts to be self-effacing, outwardly humble (though often inwardly proud, hoping people will notice how humble we are), we are quick to point out our own failures and inadequacies. I understand that, and there is a place for that kind of honesty, when it is authentic. Real people want to follow real people.
But Paul reminds us that there is also a place for confidence. There is a place for bold leadership, even when it rubs up against audacity. There is a place for those who say “I know the way, not because I’m smart, but because Jesus is. Here is what it looks like to follow Him.”
“Here are the white dots. Walk this way. Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
You may not feel like a leader, but I can almost guarantee you that someone in your life sees you as an example. Someone is looking to YOU to show them the way. Don’t shrink from that God-given role. Embrace it as an honor. You have an opportunity to exercise influence that will lead to their good, and to God’s glory. It’s OK to lead.
And yes, be open and honest about your own wrong turns. Share freely what you have learned along the way.
But then get out your can of spray paint, and boldly lay down a series of white dots that lead to Jesus.
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