Growing up at a time (5+ decades ago) and place (Bakersfield) there weren’t too many playtime options. Baseball was always first choice, but there weren’t always enough people to hit, pitch and field.
One game I vividly recall playing with my friend (Aaron) from across the street was Follow the Leader. We shared the role of the leader and the follower would dutifully try to mimic the leader.
We’d sing, “Let’s play follow the leader and you follow me!”
“Jump! Walk! Run! Freeze!”
Looking back, it’s amazing how simple and entertaining the game was. I think I enjoyed the game so much because of the interaction it afforded. The interaction created a relational bond.
Two millennia ago, a similar follower-leader activity between two prominent Biblical men created a deep relational bond. While on a missional trip, the Apostle Paul met and immediately befriended a young man named Timothy. Whatever Paul saw in the young man it caused him to draft Timothy alongside him on his journey, a journey that would last a lifetime.
“Jump! Walk! Run! Freeze!”
Fast forward. Paul is imprisoned and is soon to meet his life’s end. In reading what is believed to be his final letter (2 Timothy), Paul reminds Timothy of life’s most important lessons, and he reminds him of how good a player of the game he was. He encourages him to keep at the things he saw and learned from him, “exactly as I set it out for you.” (2 Timothy 1:13).
“Let’s play follow the leader and you follow me!”
As a child, I didn’t (couldn’t?) fully appreciate the benefits of being a follower. I learned how to do things that I wouldn’t have thought about doing on my own, or I didn’t think I could do those things as a follower. My role was to (in the words of Nike) just do it. Paul reminds Timothy of how he had developed into a capable leader, growing deep spiritual roots (2 Timothy 1:5-7).
Paul wanted to ensure that the game of Follow the Leader didn’t end with his death. As he instructs his young protege, “Throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you have heard from me.” (2 Timothy 2:1) And at the end of his letter, Paul poignantly asks Timothy to bring a jacket and his bible (so to speak) before winter. Paul was seeking physical and spiritual warmth from the action of the new leader, Timothy.
Follow the Leader. It’s such a simple game.
Time to find Aaron…I mean Timothy.
A p-k (preacher’s kid), Mark is the eighth of nine children born to Reuben and Henrietta Meeks, prolific planters of nearly 30 churches throughout the Central Valley of California. After four decades of teaching, discipling, and ministering, including to the hospitalized and imprisoned, Mark responded to God’s call to pastoral ministry. In addition to degrees in civil engineering and public administration, Mark received his Masters in Theology from Fuller Seminary.