We all want followers. I want them for this blog.
No… seriously, click the follow button to the right. 😉
People want them for their Facebook or Twitter feeds. Leaders of all kinds are always seeking ways to get followers. Businesses use drawings and give-a-ways to collect more contact info they can market to (a kind of follower). YouTube rates their ‘channels’ by the number of followers. TV shows stay on the air or get cut by their number of viewers (followers). It’s all around us. We are always seeking followers.
But nobody in history has ever had more followers than Jesus. So what can we learn from Him? How did He gather so many followers? Better yet, how did He start calling His first followers? Lucky for us, His strategy and tactics were written down for us. Luke 5:1-11 shows how Jesus began to call His followers. Let’s learn from His example.
Earning the stage through sound teaching
Jesus did not start by asking for followers. He started by simply teaching. Because His teaching was so valuable and loved, people naturally followed Him around to hear His messages. However, notice that the bible does not consider these people to be His first followers. It says “the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God” (v1).
But when Jesus spotted who would become His first disciples, He again taught with them in the audience this time, even using their boat for His teaching platform. “He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” (v3)
Now Jesus earned the respect of these men (Peter, James and John) enough to be called master (or teacher). At this point, Jesus makes what to them sounds like a bizarre request. “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v4)
Only because Jesus had earned the respect, do they respond. “Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (v5) Of course the results He delivered are nothing short of a miracle. Remember these experienced fishermen had been fishing all day already and had not had good success. So a catch of any size would have been impressive. But Jesus didn’t just have them catch a few fish. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (v6-7)
Cast a vision
Now that Jesus had earned their respect and got their attention, it was time to cast the vision. “Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (v10-11)
Now we can guess that there was likely a little more to this story than is actually recorded. Perhaps it was that simple because he is Jesus, but knowing that God does not interfere with free will, it’s not like Jesus could simply force them to follow. I’m guessing there was likely a bit more discussion than one line. But in all the gospel accounts, it is summed up by basically one line.
Matthew’s version says “I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus was willing to teach (by example) how to help them become fishers of men. He cast this incredible vision and it is the vision they grabbed on to.
So, if you merely want a mailing list, or viewers, or potential customers… continue to do what you have been doing to get ‘followers’. But if you really want true followers like Christ did, follow His example. Earn the respect, deliver results and cast a vision.