Jerusalem (taken from the spire of the Lutheran Church)
I guess you could say my role was to lead by following. And follow I did. There were some in our group who had issues walking, and Israel is not flat, nor are the paths made for easy travel. Lots of steps. Lots of rocks. Lots of slippery surfaces. I found myself at the back of the group, counting to 13 to make sure we were all present, and bringing up the rear. Being 6 feet 4 inches tall, this made my job easier to say the least! As I was escorting one of our members by the arm back to the bus garage a few blocks away from the church in Bethlehem, one of the vendors along the street who was selling umbrellas stopped his sales pitch when he saw us approaching. He said to me, "God bless you. You take care of your women." I said, "God bless you too!" I was almost compelled to buy an umbrella from him just for that.
The other part of my job was to make sure my group knew the schedule - where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. I commend my group for their keeping with the schedule - it wasn't any of my flock that showed up late! I did have a couple of the sheep who thought we had left them behind, so they headed back to the bus before the rest of the group. Silly sheep.
Someone once said, "A leader who has no one following him is just a guy out for a walk." Yet sometimes what we are called to do is to lead from behind. Sometimes, the one who leads also needs to be one who is also following. We put our trust into our guide, who knew where we needed to be. He knew the people, the places and the best way to get a group through the sites. I did not. I needed to follow, so that I could lead others to follow too. Does that make sense?
One afternoon, near the end of our trip, we had a free afternoon. We decided to walk from our hotel to the Old City of Jerusalem - about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We made it to the entry gate with no problem, but when we starting walking through the tight streets of the city with all the shops and vendors, we soon realized we were walking in circles. The spice store and the other store with meat hanging up in the window that we saw three times made that obvious. We were without our guide, and I appreciated his leadership so much more that day.
As a pastor, I am called to lead and to follow. If I am not listening to the leader, woe to the ones who follow.
Jesus Still Lead On.
1 Jesus, still lead on,
till our rest be won;
and, although the way be cheerless,
we will follow, calm and fearless;
guide us by your hand
to the promised land.
2 If the way be drear,
if the foe be near,
let no faithless fears o'ertake us,
let not faith and hope forsake us;
safely past the foe
to our home we go.
3 When we seek relief
from a long-felt grief,
when temptations come alluring
make us patient and enduring;
show us that bright shore
where we weep no more.
4 Jesus, still lead on,
till our rest be won;
heav'nly leader, still direct us,
still support, console, protect us,
till we safely stand
in the promised land.
(Text: Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1700-1760; tr. Jane L. Borthwick, 1813-1897, alt.)