Following the Leader [Time Out]

Topic / Time Out

Time Out quiet times for the youth worker's soulTime Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Benjer McVeigh)

For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV

Last week we took our students on a backpacking trip to Colorado. Our group was broken up into four smaller groups, and the morning after our group arrived at the base camp, each group headed off to spend five days in Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountains. Each group consisted of roughly fourteen or so people, including at least two adult leaders from our church and two guides provided by our outfitter. I was in a group with our high school boys.

It was fun—although a bit unnerving—for me to be under the leadership of our guides. We weren’t allowed to pack any electronics (although some students tried), and before we headed out on the trail, the guides took away our watches so that we would not know what time it was. They said that they would let us know when we needed to get up and go to bed, and that we’d eat when it was time to stop and eat. We just needed to follow their lead and not be worried about what would be happening next and how long it was until we would stop and camp.

It didn’t take me long to realize that following our guides was a great parable for following God. Our guides not only knew the way; they knew what we needed to do to have the best trip possible. For instance, we would often pack up camp in the early morning and start hiking while it was still quite chilly out. Our conventional wisdom said, “It’s cold, put on pants and a coat.” However, our guides assured us that we would be quite warm in only shorts and a t-shirt once we started walking, so it was best not to put on extra layers. Sure enough, five minutes into the hike, some of us asked to stop so that we could remove the extra layers that we wouldn’t have put on in the first place if we had just trusted our guides.

That’s the way my walk with God is often played out: God tells me what I need to do in a certain part of the Journey, but I think I know better and make a different choice. Only later do I understand that if I had followed God’s lead in the first place, things would have worked out for the better.

This doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed that things will always be pleasant. During the trip, we spent some time hiking in a downpour, and that wasn’t much fun at all. Then on our third day, our guides pushed us on during a really difficult hike over a pass, because to stop and rest would have meant an increased risk of being caught in a dangerous lightning storm later in the day.

In my walk with God, I need to learn to follow him just as I learned to follow our guides. When I choose my own so-called wisdom over God’s lead, it just results in unnecessary pit stops, detours, heartache, and pain later. The Israelites experienced this when they were exiled in Babylon for not being obedient to God and following his lead alone. But when I do follow God’s lead—even when I don’t think his direction makes sense—I am in good hands. Again, this doesn’t mean that I won’t experience any discomfort. It just means that I recognize that God is faithful and wise and that his way is best. This is especially difficult to remember in youth ministry, where what seems like the best way forward to our human wisdom is not the same direction in which God is leading. But God knows best. He sees what lies ahead, and he knows how to get us through safely.

Read Jeremiah 29:10-14
Because they didn’t follow God and trust his ways, the Israelites experienced a detour when they were exiled in Babylon.
What detours have you taken in life as a result of not trusting God?
When is it most difficult to trust God’s plan rather than your own human wisdom?
In what specific—and maybe difficult—issue in your life this week do you need to trust God’s leading rather than your own human wisdom?

Note: Our trip was conducted through Noah’s Ark in Buena Vista, CO. There are some good Christian rafting and backpacking outfitters out there, and I consider these guys to be the cream of the crop, especially if you’re coming from out of state.

Benjer McVeigh is a youth pastor in Ogden, UT, where he works with students in grades 9-12 and their families at Washington Heights Church. You can read more from Benjer at

Posted on August 16, 2010

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