Matters of Faith: Being Led Or Leading


By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.


I had an interesting dream the other night. I was on the steps of a building, engaged in dialog with two young men. The conversation was cordial and they were receptive to my encouragement when suddenly a third young man shows up. He interrupted our conversation and, with great enthusiasm, began talking about meaningless things. The other two were drawn to this young man and what we were discussing faded into the shadows. I recall thinking, “So, this is their leader.”


As they walked up the stairs to leave, one of the two dropped a very large lobster on my shoulder (Hey, it was a dream!). While laughing, they all ran up the stairs. I quickly brushed the crustacean off my shoulder and thought, “If they ever learn to follow their own lead, they’ll be okay.” Will they be led, or will they lead?


It is commonly understood and statistically proven that most people are followers. Even in the church, most are followers. The Bible refers to God’s people as sheep; “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). It’s really not unusual but can be very sad to see so many people ready and eager to jump on the negative bandwagon while bypassing or ignoring the positive that’s taking place all around them. So many people seem to be content just going along with the crowd. It didn’t take a dream for me to realize that there are many people who willingly follow the crowd and are not leaders.


Have you ever noticed that there is always one in the crowd who can influence the mood and the pace of the crowd? They are gifted with leadership but many times choose to lead the crowd into all types of trouble. Even in my dream, my biggest disappointment was and is are individuals’ decision and willingness to follow that type of negative influence. Are they leading or are they being led?


In the book of Proverbs (1:10-15), we find a monologue of a father giving advice to his son about selecting friends; “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say—‘Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun! Let’s swallow them alive, like Sheol, still healthy as they go down to the Pit. We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. Throw in your lot with us, and we’ll all share our money;’ withhold yourself from their path.”

There it is! “Withhold yourself!” Don’t go with them! Decide on a different direction! Move, but in the spirit of The Lord! Don’t you realize that since the dawn of creation, we have been enticed to do evil, sometimes from outside, other times from within? Oh yes, there are times that we can be our own worst enemy. But we’ve always had encouragement and we’ve always had a promise that we would not be in the battle alone.

Did you notice in the Isaiah verse that when we turn to our own way, that there is one who has been identified by the LORD who will take the consequences of our sin on himself? In the Proverbs, the writer says that we have the option to withhold ourselves. We have the authority to say “No!” to evil and the authority to say “Yes!” to good. The deciding factor is, are you being led or are you leading?


Be Blessed +++


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill Baptist and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx.

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