Follow the Leader

This morning, I woke up filled with doubt. Brutally crushing doubt. Paralytic doubt. The kind of doubt that leaves your bone marrow tired.

I want to quit. I’m swimming against the current. Unfortunately, I am not a salmon swimming upstream. There are only a few friends around me fighting the same battle. I don’t have millions. I don’t have hundreds. Hell, I don’t even have tens. This stream feels more like a river, and my limbs are tired.

Today, I chose to lie down. I started my day by giving up. I texted a close friend and told her I was tapping out and I was moving my family to Iowa to start a farm. I don’t know what they grow in Iowa, but I was gonna mass produce the heck out of it. Organically, of course. My husband would be on board because he loves all things manly, and there is no doubt that a tractor would be involved. My kids wouldn’t care as long as we would still have internet access. The whole family would flourish. I successfully planned out my life in a matter of seconds. I am just that good, people.

“Are you a leader or a follower?”

That is how my sweet friend replied to my text. I was expecting a response that went something like, “That sounds fun! My family will do the same.” Instead of her usual tender responses, she opted for the punch-in-the-gut strategy.

Am I leader or a follower? I haven’t been asked that question since adolescence. Following is easy. The path is worn and weathered but easily marked. It may be steep and still somewhat dangerous, but many have survived before you. There is no guarantee that the journey will be free from pain or worry, but it is laid out before you. It can be mapped.

Leading is a bit more difficult. There is almost always sacrifice involved. There are steep hills and wrong turns to be encountered. There are burdens to endure. Few have traveled before you; there are no clear markings on the ground to guide you. It is scary. Terrifying, even.

Because my friend has a genuinely kind heart and is part people-pleaser she was careful with her words. She then assured me that she was not in any way trying to condemn me with that question, but rather that God has made me one or the other. He then uses that in my story.

Leading and following both come with battles. One is not necessarily more noble than the other. There are struggles on both paths. There are lessons to be learned and wars to be fought. The question is whether or not we are brave enough to lead when others are following, or humble enough to follow others’ leads.

2 Responses

    Matt G.

    If you do decide to lead the farm revolution in Florissant, be sure to spread the word! Iowa’s main agricultural products are hogs, corn, soybeans, oats, cattle, eggs, and dairy products. Lots to choose from there. I recommend corn and chickens . . . as both are allowed in Flo.

    Anita Renaud

    Stephanie, I love this post. Not knowing your temperament, I can only guess that you are by nature more of a follower, with cynical tendencies – which would make you more inclined to question the leaders every time. This is not a bad thing – it is a necessary thing, as it is a great help to a leader who does not troubleshoot future possibilities. However, it can also paralyze you because you might have trouble ever finding the black and white answer – rather, choosing to stay in the grey.

    Clearly, you are called to be the leader of your children and any pets in your home. You are called to be a helper and ultimate follower of your husband. You are most importantly called to be a follower with devoted and humble heart of Jesus Christ.

    I would also argue that you are called to lead others through YOUR journey. God has given you a writing and interpreting gift that brings a smile and hard-learned wisdom to many other people. I, for one, am grateful!

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