| from Dr. Kathy Koch |

“Follow the leader” is a children’s game, but we’re all still playing. I imagine you remember playing this when you were a child. Someone is chosen as the leader. He or she moves to the head of the line and everyone else gets behind. Now everyone mimics whatever the leader does.

The leader has a lot of power. So do followers. What if you’re the 7th or 8th in line and you can’t see the leader well? You’re likely to do what the person immediately in front of you does because you can see this child. We follow and people follow us. For this reason, I don’t think we have a right to lead unless we know who we follow.

If I think about whether I’m influenced by those around me, I can answer “yes” very quickly. It’s why we teach, as others do, that “if you show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.” We’re not just influenced by those around us though. Just like in the game, we are also likely to become like them. That’s a reason to pay attention to who we’re following.

Scripture is certainly true: Proverbs 27:17 teaches us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” In 1 John 3:7, we’re taught to not let anyone deceive us. We need to be alert and careful about those we let get close.

Of course, this isn’t just true of us. It’s true for children of all ages.

I’ll be speaking at a strong Christian school later this month and one of the topics they chose for my chapel message for grades 4-8 is about this idea that we’re influenced by those around us. At first, I reacted negatively to the idea of speaking about this to children as young as grade 4 the way I typically do. Then, I was strongly convicted that it’s never too early to talk about paying attention to who we follow.

We don’t just follow people, right? We follow messages. Messages in the songs we listen to. Ideas in the shows and movies we watch. Messages on billboards and social media. Messages in email blasts, text alerts, and the games we play.

We are following all the time. Therefore, let’s make sure we’re following people and messages we should and then let’s follow well.

In mid-August, we conducted our Redirected Parents Conference at a church in Alexandria, MN. We chose this title for our conference because we want to direct parents to healthy beliefs and relevant strategies. We sure want this for you, too!

We want to lead and we’re grateful you want to follow. Thank you! Thank you for your trust! We pray regularly that you’re able to lead your families and students well with the wisdom we teach.

Speaking of following, we met with the Celebrate Kids Board of Directors this week. I willingly follow them. They lead well. Directors direct. I choose to follow. In next week’s column, I’ll share some of what we discussed at the meeting.

Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”), is the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in 30 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, banquet talks, and other events. She is a regular speaker for Care Net, Summit Ministries, and Axis. She also speaks for other organizations, churches, schools, and pregnancy resource centers. In addition, she hosts Celebrate Kids conferences through their Ignite the Family conference division. She is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio, she was featured in Kirk Cameron’s movie, Connect, and she has written and published five books with Moody Publishers, including Five to Thrive, Start with the Heart, Screens and Teens, 8 Great Smarts, and No More Perfect Kids (with Jill Savage). Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University.