Following the right leader, Part 1
Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared on Mark Hallock’s blog, www.preachleadlove.com.
You and I were made to be followers. It is in our DNA.
This is why, whether we realize it or not, we are “following” all the time.
We follow people and what they do. We follow patterns of thought and behavior. We follow trends. Even those of us who claim to be “islands,” “free thinkers,” and “lone rangers” — we too are followers. We can’t help it. It is how we were created.
The question, of course, is who or what are we following?
At no time in our lives is who or what we are following truly put to the test more than when suffering comes. Our seasons of real pain, tears, and hardship expose and reveal the stability and rootedness, the truthfulness, timelessness, and trustworthiness of who and what we follow.
For good or bad.
In these difficult times, we often realize we need to follow someone or something else.
Someone or something better. Bigger. Stronger. More reliable. More trustworthy.
According to Scripture, this someone or something is God himself. He is the One we were made to follow.
The One who knows everything and is more powerful than anything.
Who else is worthy to be followed? To follow anyone or anything else simply reveals our foolishness. More than that, it reveals our sinfulness. It exposes the rebellious heart each and every one of us has, apart from the mercy and grace of God.
The Lord alone is our trustworthy leader. And He longs to lead us through the darkest valleys of our lives. What a kind and gracious Lord He is!
This is what King David wants us to see in verse 3 of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
In the second part of verse 3 we read, “He leads me ….” In other words, the Lord does not drive me or force me. He does not manipulate or trick me. No, He leads me. And because of the Lord’s character and His deep love for us as His sheep, we can trust His leadership.
According to verse 3, we can trust Him as He leads us along paths of righteousness.
Look, we all spend our lives walking on different types of paths. Even in our pain, this is true. The Bible says we can choose to walk down three primary paths:
1. We can choose wrong paths
These are paths that lead to heartache and more pain. These are paths that lead to separation from God and the abundant life Jesus died to give you. These are paths where sin and selfishness reign. These are paths that lead you away from God and, therefore, away from hope, peace, and joy.
2. We can choose paths that appear to be right, but actually are wrong
These are paths that appear right, at least on the surface. But when you actually take the time to pray and discern and get godly counsel from the Word and from other, more mature believers, you see that these paths actually are paths that lead to death, not life. As Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
3. We can choose right paths
These paths lead to life! Life in God. Life with purpose and joy, even in the midst of trials. These are the paths God wants us to be on, the “paths of righteousness” spoken of in Psalm 23:3. A path of righteousness is a right path, followed in the right way, with the right attitude and the right motivation. We were made to walk on this path. This is the path the Lord desires to lead us on.