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January 2013

Learning the Ropes


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First Glimpse 47: Follow the Leader




Follow the Leader

The adventure started at the monkey bars—six kids swinging hand-over-hand to the other side. Only five made it without falling. In tight, single-file formation, the survivors marched purposefully across the playground to the high slide. After a quick glance to make sure the teachers weren't watching, we scooted “up the down way,” clambered down the ladder, and headed for the dome climber. “You have to climb it upside down,” shouted our leader, “and if your feet touch the ground, you’re out!”

I groaned. Hanging and climbing were not my forte (still aren’t, for that matter). Gathering all my strength, I gripped and flipped, hugging the underside of the metal framework. One hand and toehold at a time, I slowly pulled myself to the top of the climber and down the opposite side, head spinning as I viewed the world upside down and then backwards. To my surprise, I didn’t fall—one of only three left in the game.

The leader darted off, arms flailing. We followed close behind, flapping like a flock of startled wood ducks. We floundered through the sandbox before coming to an abrupt stop at the ultimate test—the teeter-totter. After flashing a big grin, our intrepid leader stepped onto one end, gained his balance, and began to walk slowly toward the center, placing one foot carefully in front of the other. The rest of us held our breaths and glanced uneasily toward our teachers. Walking the teeter-totter was a big no-no!

We soon found out why…our leader teetered, and the apparatus tottered. As he fell forward, he encountered the bar moving upward, and our game of Follow the Leader came to an abrupt end. The last time I saw Walt as a high school student, he still carried the scar on his upper lip.

Who would have thought that three decades later, I would still enjoy one of my favorite childhood pastimes? Today, however, Follow the Leader is much more than a game. It is a calling. The Bible refers to it as “making disciples,” and it is a lifelong pursuit.

The Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Corinth echo through time, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” That’s the key. Pick the right leader and follow as closely as possible. You will discover that others fall in behind, following you as you follow Him.


Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at




©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists