Do you have a following? We might not have asked this question a decade ago, but with the advent of social media, “following” is now part of our vernacular. We “follow” others on social media and are then “followed” back. Another new word is “influencer.” People now aspire to have a career using their social media platforms to influence followers to buy products.
I’ve personally struggled with the idea of having “followers” and of being an “influencer.” But then I read Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, in which he exhorts, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). The Greek word for “imitators” here is mimts and is used to describe one who imitates, follows, or emulates another. It’s like someone’s admiring the qualities and skills of a mentor and seeking to copy or mimic what that person does. Paul urges the Philippians to do the same (Phil. 3:17; 4:9).
Our Savior also called us to follow Him—to do the things He does. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The night before He was betrayed, Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist and did what a respectable Jewish man would never do: He washed His disciples’ feet. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15). Jesus calls us to follow Him in a life of humility and service, a life that imitates what He has done for us.
As believers, we are called both to follow Christ and to make other disciples who also follow Him (Matt. 28:19–20). The act of making disciples necessitates showing people what it looks like to follow Christ; we mentor them in the faith. As we do so, they follow us. This means that we influence them to follow the Lord. Whether those who follow us are the little ones in our homes to whom we teach God’s Word or people in our offices with whom we share the gospel or larger groups in which we have great influence, we all have people in our lives who follow us. We are influencers for Christ. We mimic our Savior to those around us.
With influence comes great responsibility. Social media influencers are known to generate excitement and buzz about a product or cause. That’s because people inevitably do what their favorite influencer does. Perhaps this is why Paul qualifies his exhortation to be imitators of him by adding “as I am of Christ.” We want others to look at our actions and not see us but see Christ through us. Ultimately, we want them to imitate and follow Christ.
As it turns out, we are all influencers. We all have a following. So the question is, Who follows you, and how can you lead them to Christ?