Summary: We all play “Follow the Leader” in our lives on a regular basis. The question really becomes, who are we following.
In every congregation that pastors serve there are those that, for a variety of reasons are remembered well. Over the years of my ministry there have been many. At Elwood there was a wonderful lady named Randi. I say that she was wonderful because she was always ready willing and able to help with any variety of tasks that needed to be done around the church and in the community.
Like all of us, Randi had her quirks too. She also had her soapbox issues, the biggest of which was the repeal of the “blue laws.” For those that may not remember or may not be old enough to even know what I am talking about, the “Blue Laws” were a set of laws that prohibited the sale of certain, non-essential, things on Sunday. I, like I know many of you, can remember a time when car dealerships, malls, department stores like Foley’s, Penny’s, Sears, and even Wal-Mart type stores were not open on Sundays. There were even many grocery stores that wouldn’t open their doors on Sundays.
In many ways the “Blue Laws” were very strange. They were designed of course to keep Sunday as a day of rest and give employees a day off. It was family time. But the oddities of the laws led to some businesses opening and others staying closed. You could buy food, even baby formula but you couldn’t buy diapers. That would be clothing and therefore was considered non-essential. You could buy lumber to build something but you couldn’t buy nails to put it together. Because of the obvious ironies of these laws, they were difficult to enforce and as our society became more and more secular, the blue laws were repealed.
Now, back to Randi. On more than one occasion I sat and listened to Randi talk about how terrible it was that the Blue Laws were repealed and all of these places were open on Sunday. I never said much about it one way or the other. So, imagine my surprise as I walked into Wal-Mart one Sunday afternoon and who was walking out, Randi. It was obvious to me that at least at that moment in time, Randi was following the secular leader, even though it went against her better judgment.
I was going to stand here and say to you that all of us have at some point played the children’s game “follow the leader”, but I won’t. Someone will meet me at the door after the service and tell me that they never have. So I will say, that most of us have played the game at least at some point in our lives.
If you remember back to playing the game, everyone gets in a line. The leader, of course, is at the front of the line. As the line begins to move the leader might stretch his or her arms out like airplane wings. At another point in the walk they might start skipping. As the game goes on, everyone is supposed to do what the leader is doing.
At some point during the game, every kid in the group wants to be the leader. It is great fun to see what you can get someone else to do. I also think, at least at times, we all want to be in charge. In the game, the leader is in charge.
It seems to me that, while it is a child’s game, we all play “Follow the Leader” in our lives on a regular basis. The question really becomes, who are we following.
Are we following the whims of a society that seems to be growing more secular by the minute? Are we following peer pressure that tells us how to dress and act and what music to listen too? Are we following the television that is telling us what cars and other products to buy? Are we like Randi, in that our faith has us making claims at one time, statements that at least seem to be made from our hearts and yet on the other had we respond in real life by doing what is convenient?
I preach to myself as much as anyone else. When the lottery first began I would not buy anything from a business that sold lottery tickets. Please understand, I don’t make this statement to say to any of you that you have to agree with me on the lottery. I wouldn’t change most of your minds anyway. That being said, I don’t believe in the lottery and because of that, I boycotted any business that sold lottery tickets. I did it for more than two years. In the end, because of convenience, because of finances (things sometimes were cheaper at places that sold lottery tickets, or other reasons, I ended my personal boycott. I still have never bought a lottery ticket, but I will buy products at places that sell lottery tickets. Who am I following? Who is my leader?