Who are you following and where are they leading you?
My holiday at the beach is over for another year. We had a wonderful time, slowing down. But, one of my absolute favorite things to do is walk on the sand.
The amazing thing about walking on the beach is that fact that you leave your mark clearly behind. You can’t walk without leaving footprints. I tried. No matter how gently or carefully I tread, there was evidence of my presence to anyone who walked behind. The beach was covered in footprints – children jumping and skipping, adults with serious fitness goals, birds, dogs, and wanderers like myself. Each part of the beach was marked with the footprints of those who passed.
It got me thinking. Wherever we go, and whomever we encounter, we leave a mark behind. There is always evidence, but it often isn’t clear or obvious.
Who are you following and where are they leading you?
Have you ever tried to follow in someone else’s footprints in the sand? It’s hard, but it’s kind of fun to try. The reality of course, is that we are all following someone, and all too often, it’s not particularly intentional or considered. We follow the influence of people in our lives, good and bad; we act and react to things we see, hear, and feel without a lot of thought about what direction it’s taking us.
There is an incident in our family that made a big impact on us. When our daughter was about three years old, my husband asked her to do something simple like come and put her shoes away. It was a simple, very normal request asked in a kind and gentle tone of voice. No one was angry or annoyed, tired or stressed. Then my sweet little three-year-old, in a booming voice replied, “No never, you moron!”
You can imagine the shock on our faces. We don’t talk to each other like that in our family, and it didn’t make sense at all. Everything became clear the next day when the Toy Story video was played once again. My sweet little girl was learning how to speak from a toy dinosaur trying to save his friends from the evil head with legs.
Who are you spending time with? What are the words you are reading, watching and listening to? Who are the people you would like to be influenced by? Are you following the right set of footprints?
Who are you leading, and where are you headed?
You can’t help but leave prints for others to follow. Someone is always watching, walking behind and trying to fit his or her feet into our steps. We see regular stories of celebrities making terrible life decisions and fobbing it off with the comment, “I never asked to be a role model.” You don’t get to ask.
You and I may not have the profile of a celebrity, but there is a whole world out there looking for role models, looking for something they can aspire to, someone to emulate; looking for footprints that have gone before and left a clear mark to imitate. Like it or not, we are leaving prints behind us, and someone is trying to match our gait.
If you’re a parent this is painfully obvious every day. Our kids have a way of holding a mirror up to our tone of voice, attitudes, and language choices. It can be funny, or humiliating, and often enlightening. But, even if we don’t have young children in our home, we need to be careful of how we behave because, like it or not, we are influencing someone. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
I’ve come away from my holiday at the beach with a fresh intention to consider who I am following. Whose habits am I picking up? What mannerisms am I imitating? Where am I headed? If I’m not careful, I’ll follow the crowd somewhere I don’t want to end up. There is a small number of godly people whom I admire and want to be influenced by. I need to find their footprints and get my feet in the right place behind them.
What kind of mark am I leaving behind?
Whether I like to acknowledge it or not, I am leaving a trail of footprints behind me that others are following. As much as I am able, I will seek to have an influence of godliness, and lead others to a place of maturity in Christ. This is our mandate in Christ.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
May I encourage you today to look carefully at whose footprints you are following and think about where those prints are leading you? Who is following you? Where are you leading them?
Christine is a wife and mother of three adult kids, who lives in an apartment full of potted plants and drinks more coffee than she’d like to admit. Christine works full time in ministry at her church and writes about faith, self-care, and simple living in her blog, Living with Margins. For more blogs from her, click here. You can listen to our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn or Stitcher or Spotify.
Thanks Holly. Yes, we are now bombarded by information subtly shaping our thoughts and attitudes. It is so important for us to be aware and intentional about what we allow to have a place in our lives.
This is such great timing, we were just talking in my house about the shows my girls (now 17 and 20) watched when they were little and how seriously we took that as a family. Influences come from so many places that seem innocuous on the surface. Thank you for this GREAT reminder of who we are influencing and what we are influenced by.