Who are you following and where are they leading you?

My holiday at the beach is over for another year. We had a wonderful time, slowing down. But, one of my absolute favourite things to do is walk on the sand.

The amazing thing about walking on the beach is that fact that you leave your mark clearly behind. You can’t walk without leaving footprints. I tried. No matter how gently or carefully I tread, there was evidence of my presence to anyone who walked behind. The beach was covered in footprints – children jumping and skipping, adults with serious fitness goals, birds, dogs, and wanderers like myself. Each part of the beach was marked with the footprint of those who passed.

It got me thinking. Wherever we go, and whomever we encounter, we leave a mark behind. There is always evidence, but it often isn’t clear or obvious. 

Who are you following and where are they leading you?

Have you ever tried to follow in someone else’s footprints in the sand? It’s hard, but it’s kind of fun to try. The reality of course, is that we are all following someone, and all too often, it’s not particularly intentional or considered. We follow the influence of people in our lives, good and bad; we act and react to things we see, hear and feel without a lot of thought about what direction it’s taking us.

There is an incident in our family that made a big impact on us. When our daughter was about three years old, my husband asked her to do something simple like come and put her shoes away. It was a simple, very normal request asked in a kind and gentle tone of voice. No one was angry or annoyed, tired or stressed. Then my sweet little three year old, in a booming voice replied, “No never, you moron!”

You can imagine the shock on our faces. We don’t talk to each other like that in our family, and it didn’t make sense at all. Everything became clear the next day when the Toy Story video was played once again. My sweet little girl was learning how to speak from a toy dinosaur trying to save his friends from the evil head with legs.

Who are you spending time with? What are the words you are reading, watching and listening to? Who are the people you would like to be influenced by? Are you following the right set of footprints?

Who are you leading, and where are you headed?

You can’t help but leave prints for others to follow. Someone is always watching, walking behind and trying to fit their feet into our steps. We see regular stories of celebrities making terrible life decisions and fobbing it off with the comment, “I never asked to be a role model.” You don’t get to ask.

You and I may not have the profile of a celebrity, but there is a whole world out there looking for role models, looking for someone they can aspire to and emulate. Looking for footprints that have gone before and left a clear mark to imitate. Like it or not, we are leaving prints behind us, and someone is trying to match our gait. 

If you’re a parent this is painfully obvious every day. Our kids have a way of holding a mirror up to our tone of voice, attitudes and language choices. It can be funny, or humiliating, and often enlightening. But, even if we don’t have young children in our home, we need to be careful of how we behave because like it or not, we are influencing someone.

The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

We are all influenced by the people we spend time with, and we all have an impact on others around us. Let's be wise and intentional. #legacy #parenting #wisdom

I’ve come away from my holiday at the beach with a fresh intention to consider who I am following. Whose habits am I picking up? What mannerisms am I imitating? Where am I headed? If I’m not careful, I’ll follow the crowd somewhere I don’t want to end up. There are a small number of godly people who I admire and want to be influenced by. I need to find their footprints and get my feet in the right place behind them.

What kind of mark am I leaving behind?

Like it or not, you are a role model and people are watching and following you. Live wisely and lead others to godliness. #setanexample #leadership #parenting #friendship #godlyliving

Whether I like to acknowledge it or not, I am leaving a trail of footprints behind me that others are following. As much as I am able, I will seek to have an influence of godliness, and lead others to a place of maturity in Christ. This is our mandate in Christ.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24–25

May I encourage you today to look carefully at whose footprints you are following and think about where those prints are leading you. Who is following you? Where are you leading them?

Bless you,

You can read some more reflections from my beach holiday here at Be still. While we’re talking about influence, I think you would also enjoy reading this post about the legacy of my Grandmother.