Walking Together and Learning to Keep in Step

Whether walking together with my husband through life or walking with a friend on a short hike, I’m learning how to keep in step with others.

Recently, one friend said, “Hey! Let’s slow down and enjoy our time together.” Just a couple days, later, on a walk with a different friend, she encouraged, “I only have about an hour, how far can we go?”

Whether in life, business or ministry, we are constantly adjusting our pace to keep in step with others — or allow others to keep in step with us. When walking with a child, the stride changes, the pace slows. When walking with the, athletic and fit I tighten my boot straps and struggle to keep up.

Walking Side-by-Side

“Can two people walk together
without agreeing on the direction?”
Amos 3:3

Which Way?

We constantly make choices and readjust our direction as we walk. The long road or the short path? The difficult climb or the gentle descent? Turn left or swing to the right?

A more important question to ask perhaps is, “Am I walking with God or am I anticipating that He will walk with me?” Quite often, I believe I’m walking with God, but in reality, I’m expecting Him to walk with me — allowing me to set the pace, design the course, and determine the destination.

“In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Walk Sunset

We all desire God to establish our steps, but if I want my steps established, I must allow God to also change my heart enough to give Him full permission to also set the course.

This has honestly been a struggle for me. By nature or by gifting, I’m not sure which, I’m a leader — a visionary, planner, organizer and sight-setter. Following and keeping in step, even with Omniscient God, goes against the false confidence I have in my own ability to know where I’m heading and exactly how to get there.

In Step

A mature couple walks past my window almost daily. They walk in perfect unity; they lead with the same foot; their strides match precisely; they’re in constant communion as they walk. Like a pre-choreographed dance or military precision, they move with ease. As they turn the corner their unison so flawless, they appear as one.

Walking Together

My heart whispers, “Lord, may I walk with You like that. May my steps so match Yours that people often notice only You.”

Walking together with God means:

  • “we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
  • our steps are directed by God, ” ‘This is the way walk in it,’ when (we) turn to the right or when (we) turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
  • walking according to the gifting God has given us. Ephesians 2:10
  • walking by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7

But most of all walking together with God requires humility.

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does God require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

Walking Together

As I’m walking together with others, I need to be sensitive to the unspoken cues within their steps. Are they limping from pain or fatigued from overwork? Are they trail-blazers and go-getters, who perhaps need re-direction for their own protection? Have they walked this course on numerous occasions, knowing both the highlights and the snake-pits? In any particular moment is it best for me to follow or lead?

Two people walking

A excellent leader develops by first learning to follow — to step in pace with other more powerful, mature leaders.

Paul said to the Corinthian church,

” . . . follow my example,
as I follow the example of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1

Do you notice all the number “1’s” in that Bible reference? Our One reference point is Christ. The number one thing to remember is that we follow His lead, stepping in time with the prompts of His Spirit.

Anybody who attempts to lead without first following Jesus will ultimate cause us to get out of sync with the One who knows the best way to take and the perfect time and pace. The same applies for those following my lead. Walking together in true unity requires following Christ first and always.

The Destination

Adam and Eve walked with God before sin and disobedience separated them from Him (Gen 3:8). Noah “was a righteous man” who also “walked with God” (Gen 6:9). God invited Abraham, a man of faith, to “walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1). It’s good for me to notice that to walk with God requires a constant cleansing of our hearts, realigning them with him

God actually wants to walk with us, enjoying our company and adjusting His ginormous steps to match our childlike ones. He wants to hear about our day and share His thoughts with us.

The Bible records little about Enoch, other than he demonstrated what walking together with God looks like.

“Enoch . . . walked in close fellowship with God.
Then one day he disappeared,
because God took him.”
Genesis 5:24

Going the distance

I’m sure this might scare any child, but I love it! I can almost imagine Enoch and God walked along, their steps so in unison and fellowship together so wonderful, that they ended up closer to God’s “house” than Enoch’s. Perhaps God invited, “Hey Enoch, why don’t you just come home with Me? You’re already much closer to My house than to yours. No sense turning back now.”

Enoch agreed!

May our walk together in fellowship with God lead us closer and closer not only to His heart, but to His home, our true destination. May every step we take in obedience to Him, every mile along our destiny’s path, lead nearer to His glorious throne. And may we be sure to invite others to come along with us.

That’s true walking together.

Lead and Follow! Who is in the Lead?

Some people find it naturally easier to lead; others prefer to follow. Whether we lead or follow, the question arises “Who is the leader here?” Without followers, a leader isn’t leading; without a leader it is difficult to know who to follow.

Who is in the lead?

Lead and Follow

I introduced a practical exercise to a group of children learning worship dance. First a leader was chosen. Each child faced the leader and mimicked the lead dancer’s movements. After a couple of minutes the leader  became a follower designating the next dancer as the new leader. Around the circle we went. Everyone had opportunity to lead; all attempted to follow.

Afterward I asked what was difficult about leading. These answers and more came in childlike honesty:

  • “I was afraid no one would follow!”
  • “What if others didn’t like what I was doing!”
  • “Everyone was expecting me to come up with the ideas!”

Then I asked what was difficult about following.

  • “I was moving in one direction and the leader went the other way!”
  • “When I thought I had the leader figured out, she changed what she was doing!”
  • “I never knew what the leader would do next!”

If we are honest, we too would acknowledge similar problems when leading and following.

A Leader who is Safe

Whether we articulate it or not, we want leaders who are safe and predictable!

Jacob had connived his brother out of his birthright and his blessing. Then, fearing for his life, he fled to the far side of the known world. God met him in his running.

In a dream, he saw angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven.

” There above it stood the Lord, and he said:
I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.
I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.”
Genesis 28:12-13

 

Leaders who are safe and predictable

Needless to say, Jacob was disturbed by the dream. Frightened, he bargained with God:

If God will be with me and will watch over me
on this journey I am taking
and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear

so that I return safely to my father’s household,
then the Lord will be my God…”
Genesis 28:20-22

If my thoughts and prayers were publicly exposed to scrutiny, they would appear just as self-centered. If God will be a safe God, a me-serving God, ensuring my comfort, provision and care, then I will worship and follow Him.

Jacob wasn’t ready to give up the lead, until God proved He was good!

A Leader who is Present

How do you follow a leader you cannot see? That was Peter’s predicament!

Just a few short years prior, Peter made the choice to “leave all” and follow Christ, even when leaving meant passing up the greatest windfall catch he had ever seen.

“Then Jesus said to Simon,
“Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
So they pulled their boats up on shore,
left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5:10-11

Peter was a natural leader. For three years, his leadership training took him through unfamiliar territory of following Jesus. Just when he was beginning to get the hang of this following stuff, Jesus left. What does a follower do without a leader?

The most natural leadership Peter knew was from a fishing boat. He immediately diverted to old patterns. Three years of training appeared to fly out the window, or should I say jump overboard?

Follow the leader!

“Quack! Quack!” Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, plus two other disciples joined the line of would-be-deserters and followed Peter’s lead. Like it or not, a leader is always leading – for better or worse!

Just like his last fishing excursion, Peter’s all night fishing accomplished nothing. Then Someone on the shore suggested he try fishing in a new way,

“Throw your nets on the right side of the boat
and you will find some.”
John 21:6

The immense catch of fish revealed Jesus’ identity. Peter immediately jumped overboard and approached Jesus, leaving his would-be-followers alone in the boat.

Jesus challenges Peter’s devotion three times and then finishes with,

Follow me!”
John 21:19

This unpredictable, unseen One is still asking and inviting one-time followers and would-be leaders to follow undeterred His lead. “Follow even when you can’t see Me. Out of heart of love, follow Me, leading others well!”

A Leader who is Predictable

I have always felt drawn by nature into secluded places. As a young girl, I chanced upon a herd of white-tails. The buck sensed something alien hiding in the willow bush and advanced with nostrils flaring and antlers flinging dust in the air. I crouched breathless – unmoving! Though he could not see me clearly, he was wary. With one flick of his tail, the entire herd of thirty-or-so deer turned, springing effortless over fences and out of sight. My heart raced in the midst of unpredictable danger and wonder!

Whitetail deer - encountering a stag in the lead!

Following God often leaves me breathless in heart-racing uncertainty with a combined sense of danger and wonder!

Following God often leaves me breathless in heart-racing uncertainty with a combined sense of danger and wonder! Click To Tweet

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

I want God predictable! But ask Job how predictable God is! Or maybe Joseph!

God, unpredictable? Yes! He seems unpredictable only because His ways and thoughts are brilliant and magnificent in every dimension.

Climbing to mountain heights

While He is leading the way to jagged mountain peaks, I’m content frolicking in the plush meadow. I’m know I’m not alone! Others have been caught slip-footed as He has leading them through flooded rivers, toward “invincible” armies, or into prisons and cave fortresses.

Lead And Follow

Following well has always been difficult for me. I echo the sentiments of my little dancers. It is uncomfortable to follow, when I’m not sure where, how or when God is about to move, change directions, or lead toward unfamiliar terrain.

I often sense God looking over His shoulder wondering if I will follow here… now… ever…

Though His ways are confusing, at the least, and perplexing more oft than not, I know I can (and should) trust His lead. Why? Because I know He is indescribably good. Where He leads is for my inevitable benefit, though perhaps lacking in personal comfort.

“Lead and Follow” is far more that a children’s activation exercise. I, too, am perpetually working on my step-by-step follow to my Father’s perfect lead. You see, to follow well requires complete surrender to another’s will and ways.

The only way I will grow as a leader is to ultimately become a faithful follower. It is wonderful paradox!

 

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More on leadership!

 Leadership 101 – Take it from the Eagles

Moses – The Defining Qualities of a Great Leader

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