Leader of the Pack

We have a great dog. He's a German short-haired pointer named Buddy. He's two years old, but we've only had him about six months. He's gentle, playful, loving and wouldn't hurt a soul unless you tried to hurt one of us. He doesn't jump on the furniture or people, comes when he's called and goes into his crate when told. He's very well-behaved -- until we want to take him on a walk.

As soon as you get the leash out, Buddy starts jumping and whining like a maniac. His tail wags so hard, you think it might fall off. He will actually sit down for you to put his collar and leash on, but then he's off like a shot. All 60 pounds of him will drag you around the block. The girls can't walk him; he's just too strong. We've been working with him to teach him not to pull on the leash, but he's so excited to go for a walk that he thinks he has to lead the way. He has a fit if one of the girls gets in front of him, pulling so hard on his leash that he tries to choke himself.

Too often we're like Buddy. Either we don't want to let God lead in any fashion or we hear God tell us to do something and we take off on that path with waiting for God to lead. Buddy doesn't like to follow anyone. It doesn't matter if it's one of my girls or other kids walking to school. He wants to be in front -- the leader of the pack. So many times, we think we have to be the leader of the pack. The person who makes the decisions and sees to the details. But being the leader is never our role. Our role is to be a Christ-follower -- that means that Jesus is always in front. You can't follow from the front. You have to be behind the leader to see where He is going.

Kids, by nature, are selfish. How many times have you had your kids fight over who is going to get the first bowl of ice cream, sit next to mom or be the first to take a shower? Their natural tendency is to want to be first. Our job is to show them how to follow, and to make wise choices on whom to follow.

  • Start with yourself. If you're not living out an example of a life committed to following Jesus, then anything you do or say to your kids about it is going to fall on deaf ears. Ask God to show you the areas in your life where you are leading instead of following Him. Decide if there's anything you need to change in your activities or daily schedule so that you are following God instead of trying to lead Him.
  • Play follow the leader with your kids. Every so often run up and get in front of the leader. See what chaos breaks out in the line behind you. I'm sure your child will remind you that you are not the leader. Talk about how hard it would be for you to follow the leader if you are in front of him. Tell your children that God wants us to follow Him, not try to lead. Ask your children what ways they can follow God when they have to make tough choices. Ask them if there are certain people that they know that they might not want to follow because of the choices that that person makes.
  • Load a wagon with something heavy like rocks or bricks. Have your child try to push the wagon up the hill. It should be difficult because the wheels will turn. Next have them try pulling the wagon up the hill. It should be easier than pushing. Talk about how just like pushing the wagon, it's hard for God to show us the direction He wants us to go from behind. When we let Him get in front of us, it's much easier for us to follow His leading.

This can be a tough concept for kids to grasp because it's not concrete. Be sure to encourage your kids to pray and ask God what to do when they are faced with a decision. Talk about the ways that God lets us know what He wants us to do -- through the Bible, through others, through prayer.