It seems Jesus said 'follow me' around 23 times. It must be important. While we hear people talking about a dearth of leadership, I think one of our greatest failings is lack of followship. Why is this? Glad you asked!
First, we must choose whom to follow. Ezekiel 34 says "woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves ..." It also says "they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field." Jesus was said to be moved with compassion because (Matthew 9:36) "they were distressed and dispirited because they were like sheep without a shepherd." I have watched people follow their favorite political figures, conspiracy theories, football teams, actors, musicians and charismatic speakers. All the while I believe Jesus is beckoning, "Follow me." Paul said that the only truth he could preach is Christ and Christ crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul's ability to write, lead and plant churches was based on his focus on knowing who to follow. He lived in a world of false shepherds. We do too. Jesus says, "Follow me!"
Second, we must choose the right voice. Jesus told His disciples ... "My sheep listen to my voice. They know me and they follow me (John 10:27)." There are lots of voices. Many are passionate and committed to their cause. But Jesus says we should listen for HIS voice in the ever-changing chorus of messages. We know Jesus' voice by knowing Him. We know Jesus' voice by learning about the things He did and the things He taught. Many of these things are wonderful and beautiful. Many of these things are hard and counter-culture. But they are Jesus' voice. We are the sheep of His pasture. In the mess of this world, listen for Jesus' voice. It will "lead you beside still waters and it will restore your soul." Choose Jesus' voice.
Finally, we must actually follow our Good Shepherd. We say we choose Him. We sing "Where He leads me I will follow!" But we find ourselves focused on false shepherds and ideologies that are not the voice of the Good Shepherd. In Ezekiel 34 God makes a promise. God says, "They shall know that I am the Lord when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those that enslaved them (Eze. 34:27)." When we put one foot in front of the other, when we listen, and when we embark on the journey led by the Good Shepherd, we are promised a blessing. I believe that blessing is the very presence and leadership of God.
We live in a land of false shepherds. They have long lived off the sheep. They have, for political, economic and cultural reasons, been willing to feed us to the predators that fill our land and our TV screens. It is time. Time to choose to follow Jesus. Time to listen to Jesus. Time to take those steps that will lead us to the still waters, the restored soul and to follow our leader. We have lots of leaders, which John Riley says are people with influence over others. We have directions and voices galore, all experts in telling us how to do life. We have passionate and emotional pleas that touch us and woo us to react. And we have Jesus who says, "Follow me!" Twila Paris sums it up ... "I don't know where to go from here, but I've already made my choice. So this is where I stand, until He moves me on, and I will listen to His voice."