Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, addressing the Church in Corinth, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul understood the power of personally following Christ as well as the importance of followership. There’s something significant about inviting someone to walk alongside you as you traverse the path of life in Christ. As a follower of Jesus, you have the incredible privilege to share your life with others as you teach, lead, and influence them in truth and love.
In the XAi 5 Step Challenge booklet, followership is explained like this, “To follow Jesus in such a way that those who walk alongside us are enabled to follow Him well. To move someone from one level of relationship with God to the next closer level.” As a believer who seeks to follow Jesus daily, you have a responsibility to live a life that points to Christ. You also have the privilege of inviting students from every tribe, tongue, and nation to walk with you as you seek the Lord. Followership is an outstanding way for your international friends to be introduced to the person of Jesus as they begin to learn about who He is and what He has done for them.
Followership first means following the example of Christ every day in our personal lives. We cannot invite others to follow our example if we aren’t living and breathing His example. We are to be set apart from the world, to look different from the world. Jesus’ life, and the example He set, are counter-cultural. Followership is counter-cultural. Jesus wasn’t focused on fitting in or being popular within the crowds. His focus wasn’t to look like everyone else. He was set on bringing the good news. In the same way, we must follow His example. We must not mimic culture but instead create it. We are a representation of who He is in all that we say, do, and think.
Followership also means inviting international students to walk alongside you as you follow Christ. International students are seeking to know who Jesus is and understand what He has done for them. You have a responsibility to invite them to follow you as you follow Christ. As they see your example, they should see who He is. Providing this real space for internationals to journey with you will help them to experience Jesus as they witness you experience Jesus.
So, where do you start? You begin by abiding with Christ. If you aren’t abiding with Jesus personally, you cannot be an accurate representation of who He is to your international friends. Followership also means making yourself available. Be accessible as your international friends ask questions – questions about life, questions regarding decisions, and questions about faith. Your responses have the incredible power to point them to God, who deeply loves them and cares about them. Inviting international students into your rhythms is also important. Not only the natural rhythms of mealtimes, study groups, holidays, or recreation but also the rhythms of small groups, large groups, and church services. Including students in these activities will provide opportunities for you to have great conversations and plant seeds of faith.
Jesus is worth following. He desires for every nation to know who He is. As you make friends with internationals and you welcome them into your life, I challenge you to be like Paul. Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct you as you invite students to come alongside you as you seek Him. Followership is an essential step on the journey from friendship to leadership.