“Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17, NJKV
Followers are never in short supply. That was so when Jesus walked this earth and it still is today.
The reason for the continuous supply of followers will differfrom one context to another but the principles behind it are the same across time and space. One of those principles is thatleadership helps people to switch focus from the need to the opportunity before them. With that shift comes appetite to follow. The question, therefore, is not whether people will follow a leader butwhy will people follow a leader?
In the case of Jesus, some people followed Him because He invited them to do so, and offered them a clear vision of what He was up to. Others however followed Him because of His fame – the need and crowd effects (Matthew 4:23-25). God is fine with both types of followers because they all need Him.
In today’s world, it is not surprising to find many believers in this second category of followers because of the rising number and complexity of problems. God’s plan for those of us who find ourselves in the second category of followers is that we progressively transform into the first type of followers.
Have you noticed that online social platforms are doing a good job at using the crowd effect to mobilise followers for both individuals and businesses? That explains why they have offers for boosting the number of our online followers – the know how to invite people to like or follow us online.
Who you become and what you get from following another person is not, however, always obvious. Wise followers therefore always take time and effort to establish the vision of the leader because vision is what true and great leadership has to offer. A leader is only as great as his vision.
Jesus is the greatest leader there has even been. His public office as a leader lasted only three and a half years but his vision still lives on with us today – more than 2,000 years after His physical departure from earth. Why is that? I believe it is because He effectively linked His invitation for people to follow Him with His vision for them. “Follow me”, He said, “…and I will make you become fishers of men”.
God is in the business of people – fishing them out of the ‘lake’ of bondage over into the ‘lake’ of freedom; from darkness to light (Colossians 1: 13-14). As partners and ambassadors of God in the earth, that is the same and only business we are called to go about.
A fisher of men is a people magnet in the kingdom of God. His life is distinguished by the two greatest desires of all men – the desire to experience and express freedom. Sooner or later, a follower of Jesus becomes both a witness of freedom and an expression of it. Jesus is the source of freedom from any and all forms of bondage. In Him is found freedom from condemnation, sin, fear, shame, anger, poverty, sickness and disease. “...if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, NKJV).
Now, to successfully follow Jesus, our daily commitment to the following four things has to become non-negotiable:
- Keep your eyes on Jesus – pay attention to His ways and works (Hebrews 12:1-2);
- Keep your ears on Jesus – pay attention to His voice and words (John 10: 3-5, 27);
- Find and fellowship with Jesus’ friends (John 15:14-15, 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, and Hebrews 6:12, 13:7); and
- Pursue the things that are found in Jesus – Faith (Hebrews 13:7); Peace (Hebrews 12:14); Love (1 Corinthians 14:1); and Righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11, Matthew 6:33)