So goes the gospel of modern Western culture. Personal freedom and fulfillment define what it means to be human - individualism the way.
And this isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. I can think of numerous times when the phrase helped me greatly. Whether it was protecting me in the face of negative peer pressures or sustaining confidence in the face of failure, “be yourself” has helped maintain contentment with who I am. I like me.
Yet for any regular reader of this blog, you won’t be surprised to hear me say that “be yourself” has limits. To make it our mantra in life exposes the irony that it is. In our quest to “be ourselves” we all follow something.
Even the path of complete personal freedom and fulfillment is a very recent value historically – a value that...we follow.
And so even in a culture as “free” as ours, we hear of and practice following all the time:
- News (radio, TV, smartphone, newspaper-maybe!)
- Twitter (Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are in a race to get to 30 Million followers!)
- Authors (e.g. Rudy Wiebe - one of my favorites)
- Movies (e.g. Dark Knight series)
- Fashion (not a reference to myself, by the way)
- Advice (e.g. Seth Godin)
If we all follow, our goal shouldn’t be to free ourselves from all forms of following - impossible! Rather, to be ourselves, we need to understand what it is we follow.
Some questions to consider:
- What are the ways people “follow” in our culture?
- What do you follow? (i.e. What are you most passionate about? What takes up most of your time/energy/focus?)
- How does your following shape who you are?
**This post is developed from a recent sermon - "We all follow..."**