I had the blessed opportunity to attend a men’s retreat over the weekend at Melvern Lake with a group of about 30 men from my church. Highlights of the weekend included three phenomenal sermons from our campus pastor, incredible fellowship with the guys playing a game called 9-Ball, three face-plants while waterskiing (or should I say attempting to waterski), and a bonfire explosion that deserves its own Youtube link (from what I heard, it has already gone viral). I did spend about 10 minutes in the whirlpool this afternoon to work out the kinks of sleeping on the ground, so I am relaxed enough to recount the messages our pastor imparted to us. Many of the themes come from Kyle Idleman’s book Not a Fan, a book that I highly recommend. My hopes are that they will assist you in evaluating your own life as an educator.
A fan is defined as an enthusiastic admirer. It doesn’t sound too bad, does it? I’d like to be considered a fan of Christ. I want to admire Him enthusiastically. The problem is that fans are cheering from the stands. They wear their team’s clothes, they know all their favorite players’ statistics, and they tailgate three hours before the game to celebrate their team, but do they really know the team? Do they really understand all the stresses the players are having on and off the field? Or are these people just parroting back something they heard on sports talk radio or ESPN? Suddenly being a fan is not necessarily where I want to be in terms of my relationship with Christ.
Here’s the thing … Christ is calling us to be so more than fans. He wants us to be followers. Followers are a step up from fans. They actually get off their rear-ends and do something to further Christ’s kingdom. They talk the talk and walk the walk. Followers reach out to others, citing scripture to encourage. Followers don’t take any time off; every step they take, every decision made is for the Lord. They get their hands dirty and die to themselves, crucifying their souls for the One who died for us. Followers take up their cross daily and endure persecution for Christ’s sake. They are unique creatures that actually consider adversity a blessing because they know endurance results in growing closer to God.
So, how do you find out if you’re a fan or a follower? You examine yourself. Take a look at the thoughts below and see where you reside …
Fans will play Christian music in their room during their plan hour but gossip about colleagues during lunch. Followers will let the music they listen to in their plan hour fuel every action the remainder of their day.
Fans will be wearing the cross around their neck while they sit behind their computer catching up on e-mails during class. Followers will let that same cross dangle from their necks as they lean over to help a student in need.
Fans will have the Jesus fish on their car bumpers as they refuse to forgive the colleague they are at odds with. Followers will have that same bumper sticker and reach out to an unreached co-worker with unconditional love.
Fans will talk about church one minute then pull out their smartphones during faculty meetings to update their Facebook accounts. Followers will invite the unreached to church and think of ways to apply whatever is being taught at the faculty meeting into their classrooms.
Fans will knock off a quick devotional in the morning as if it were a checklist, meet a friend at Starbucks, and arrive three minutes late to work. Followers will utilize that same time in the morning to meet with a Christian friend for Bible study, challenging them to live the life God intended–all while making sure they are on time to work.
Fans will ask for prayer for their own struggles. Followers will ask for prayers they need for encouragement and go out of their way to pray for the unreached.
Fans will lock their doors at 7:30 am when students are allowed to enter classrooms so they can have about 15 minutes of quiet before the day. Followers will prop their doors open at 7:30 am, letting students spill in as they please, building relationships that show the kids they authentically care.
Fans will have their car radios preset to K-Love on the ride to work and then complain in their team plan hour about problem students. Followers will rock to K-Love and diffuse unneeded gossip about problem kids by pointing out their good qualities and creating a list of ideas to help them.
Fans will make four phone calls in a row to parents of kids who are failing, cutting right to the chase with the A bomb that will rock their day. Followers will make those same four phone calls speaking about their sincere concern for the kids who are failing and then make two more phone calls to the parents of the kids who are doing the job right.
Fans will constantly remind other Christian colleagues about their devotion to God through Bible studies they attend, fellowships, and quiet time with the Lord. Followers will lovingly reach out to other Christian colleagues when needed, inviting them to the same events.
Fans will wear a Christian shirt to an inservice day and duck out the side door once their grades are complete to scoot home early. Followers will do the same but with the extra time they make a positive parent phone call, write a note of encouragement to a colleague who is working their tail off, and visit a colleague in need to minister to them.
Fans will call themselves Christians when they are only halfway in, pulling out God’s principles when it is convenient. Followers will call themselves Christians and let the Holy Spirit drive their heart every second of the day, even when the convenience of daily living is pulling the opposite direction.
Are you a fan or a follower? I will admit that I have spent the majority of my life as a fan, calling myself a Christian but still doing things my way. What I have been realizing over the past few years is that our faith is not Burger King. I can’t have it my way all the time because God’s way trumps my sinful desires every time. It reminds me of those Chiefs fans who were tweeting about firing the entire front office staff during their first pre-season game when the first quarter was going awry, and then completely changing their tune to tweets of praises when the Chiefs defense garnered two pick-sixes and a punt return for a touchdown.
What about you? Do you want to be a halfway in lukewarm poser, or would you rather get your hands dirty and truly give your life to Christ? God doesn’t want you to be a fair weather fanatic, only cheering when it is convenient for you. He wants your entire being, the every essence of your soul. The reward of living your life this way far supersedes the opposite. An eternity in heaven awaits all those who submit to Christ and His sacrifice for us. Isn’t it time we decided to follow our true hero’s lead?