To Serve is to Follow

By Dr. Emily Dean

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also…” John 12:26 NASB

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 18 years old at a campus wide Bible study. The teacher was talking about these words of Jesus….follow Me. It’s what He told the disciples when He called them, and I knew that was exactly what Jesus was saying to me through the words of scripture….follow Me.

Somewhere along the way I have found it’s easy to trade serving (or what I consider serving, a.k.a. being super busy) for following. If you haven’t noticed, our culture celebrates those who are the busiest. We compare notes about who has the longest to-do list because that’s what matters in life, right?

So what does it really mean to serve Jesus? In this passage Jesus is pretty clear. He said if you want to serve me, you have to follow me. It’s easy to mistake serving for following. Most often the two coincide. If we are following Jesus, then most likely we will be serving Him. This passage shows us though that it is possible to attempt to serve Jesus without following Him.

Have you ever done that? Me too. You get busy doing things without slowing down to ask Jesus if you are doing the right things, the necessary things. I can think of a woman in scripture who got this mixed up as well. I can so relate. Jesus’ friend Martha wanted everything to be just right to serve Him dinner, but Jesus told her an impeccable meal is not what’s most important right now (Luke 10:40-42). Being with Jesus was what Martha needed to do right then. Serving Jesus is important, even necessary. If we fail to serve, not much will get done. Busyness in itself is not a bad thing. Sometimes we just need to slow down long enough to ask Jesus what is most important in the moment.

Even with the best of intentions our service to Jesus can fall flat if we are not actively following Jesus. Spending time with Jesus getting to know Him better is the most important time we will spend in a day.

Maybe you’ve recently heard Jesus’ call to follow Him, or maybe you’ve gotten so busy serving that you need to remember what it means to simply follow. I know I’ve had to remind myself what Jesus has actually called me to do many times. The specifics of what that looks like will change, but the call stays the same…if you want to serve Jesus, you must follow Him.