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Turn Your Back on the Crowd

Ever have a tune that you simply can never get out of your head? Or one that when heard floods your mind with nostalgia of days gone by? “Following the Leader” from Disney’s 1953 motion picture Peter Pan is one of those for me. While Peter takes Wendy to meet the mermaids, John and Michael and the Lost Boys set off to locate the Indian tribe. As the Lost Boys march off, they begin to sing:

Following the leader, the leader, the leader

We're following the leader

Wherever he may go

Remember the childhood game by the same name? It involved getting everybody in a line, and one person was selected to be the leader. Everyone was to keep watching and doing everything the leader did. If he took giant steps, everyone in the game had to stay in line and take a giant step at the very place he did. There was a lot of raising of one arm, then two, twisting, jumping, skipping, and hopping. I find it simply amazing the lessons we learn, even as a child, that help us throughout our lives.

Following the leader.

Life lessons are all around us. Consider, if you will, a symphonic orchestra. Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance by way of visible gestures. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo, and shapes the sound. What I find interesting is how a few people on a stage under the direction of a great conductor can bring thousands to their feet in applause and appreciation. But what’s even more amazing is the way a conductor leads. Someone once said that a man who wants to lead an orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

Turning your back on the crowd.

The truth is we cannot simply watch the crowd and see which way they are going. To lead implies being ahead of the crowd and charting a course that others have passed by. By our lives and our principles, we too can unify, set, and shape the outcome for positive endings. But that will only happen when we turn our back on the crowd and lead.

Many of us stumble because we do not know when to ignore the crowd, turn our back on the popular trend and focus on the task the Father has given us to do.

For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.

Isaiah 8.11-13

The Lord gave a similar edict to the children of Israel in Exodus 23.2:

You shall not follow the masses in doing evil,

Exodus 23.2a

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. Don’t be influenced by the mob mentality. Job boasted that he did not fear a great multitude (Job 31.34). Our parents cautioned us not to follow the crowd. They did that because following the crowd is the path of least resistance, but it generally leads to disaster. Following a crowd or a mob rarely ends well. The Bible is filled with such examples:

It was a crowd that complained to Moses about the lack of water (Exodus 17.2).

It was a crowd that persuaded Pilate to crucify Jesus (Mark 15.15).

It was a crowd that sent Thessalonica into an uproar and assaulted the house of Jason trying to find Paul and Silas (Acts 17.5).

It was a crowd that almost beat Paul to death (Acts 21.30, 35).

“Enter through the narrow gate;” said our Lord, “for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7.13-14). We must be prepared to face unpopularity if we would walk in accordance with His word.

It was the Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca, who said in his Letters from a Stoic: “When a mind is impressionable and has none too firm a hold on what is right, it must be rescued from the crowd: it is so easy for it to go over to the majority.” Isn’t this what so often happens? We succumb and conform to the majority or the crowd. Why? Because fitting in is comfortable. To be different has a negative, uncomfortable connotation; so we follow the crowd without thinking.

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”

Albert Einstein

Understand that following the crowd in sin makes us nothing more than mediocre copies of others. The fruit the devil places before us often seems harmless. In fact, at times it appears helpful. There is the drink that will make us appear copacetic. The lie that will keep us from distress. The revenge that will give us satisfaction. Sin is so inviting, but its end is always death (Romans 6.23a). There is no standing out in a crowd when you are dead.

We must be more than mediocre. Many would agree that there is a leadership crisis. Many of the “great” leaders of the world are flawed. We all are. But we are all also influencers, to some degree, and in turn, we are influenced by others. That is why we should all care about leadership; it affects us all. And if we’re not careful, it can alter our eternal destination. Think back to Joshua’s declaration, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24.15b) Leadership begins with unwavering commitment. It involves turning your back on the crowd. It entails throwing yourself in God’s hands, submitting to Him in all things no matter how frightening or overwhelming it may seem.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why? Because leadership is strengthened when a few willing and wise individuals who are under the guidance of a great leader will learn, watch, grow and then produce other great leaders. And we have the Chief Shepherd as our guide. Hebrews 6.20 describes Christ as our forerunner. One who has already entered that Holy Place where we someday will go. All we have to do is follow His lead, and lead others in His way.

Instead of leading, I see so many wanting to be liked by a fickle segment of the population. And by swinging wildly from one side to the other, we’re not seeing true leadership. They want to be liked more than they are willing to lead. Instead of being pleasing to God, they choose acceptance by their peers. Leadership is primarily influence, and the way that we can influence others is by our godly example and by the teaching of God’s word.

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13.7

When we believe we have the heart, ability, and strength of leadership, then we need to put a stake in the ground and move in the right direction where Christ is instead of waiting to test the winds of change for our next step. Leadership moves forward.

Don’t follow the path the people are taking. Turn your back on the crowd. Prove what the will of God is.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your

mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable

and perfect.

Romans 12.2

Knowing that we are a chosen people (1 Peter 2.9), understanding that we have been set aside for a specific purpose and realizing that we are each unique in our own way tells us that we cannot conform to the ways of this world.

A great leader takes people past where they want to go to where they ought to go.