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December-January 2016


Follow the Leader


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FIRST GLIMPSE: Driven to Discipleship

My daughter just had her first car accident. No worries…she and the other driver are both fine. I wish I could say the same for his bumper!

I guess it was inevitable. After all, kids don’t come with an instruction manual. And even if they did, I’m pretty sure the chapter on teaching them to drive would be missing. Nobody—and I mean nobody—is qualified to pen those pages.

For a year, I have arrived places pale and shaky. The passenger side armrest of our Camry has indentations left by clutching fingers, and if you look closely, you will find a permanent footprint in the floorboard where a passenger brake should be. I’ve prayed hard, shut my eyes often, and swallowed (most) critical comments. And—unlike my wife—I am happy to report that I never grabbed the steering wheel. Not even once!

To be honest, my behavior has little to do with my daughter. She is an excellent driver. Sure, it took her a few weeks to learn to keep it between the lines on sharp Tennessee curves, and I’m not sure she will ever master a clutch. But for the most part, she took to the driver’s seat like a pro.

My fear has more to do with letting go. For months, every time I opened the passenger door, my mind screeched, “No! She’s not ready.” I simply couldn’t fathom that my little girl was prepared for the open road.

But she was, equipped by a lifetime of watching, listening, and learning from the back seat. “Always follow at a safe distance.” “Come to a complete stop.” “Accelerate into the turn.” “Always check your blind spot.” And my favorite: “Never, ever try to outrun a train!”

Unfortunately, she may have learned more from my example than my exhortation. She sometimes drives like a NASCAR driver on the final stretch, and her exclamations of disgust at slow drivers in the left lane sound hauntingly familiar. I’m going to blame the rolling stops and rapid acceleration on my wife, though.

The whole process of teaching Victoria to drive has been a wonderful reminder. As Christians, we follow the Great Command and pour ourselves into others—showing, teaching, and modeling Christ. Discipleship. Imperfect people sharing a perfect Savior. The Apostle Paul put it most simply when he wrote to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Live out your faith, teach them well, and then “give them the wheel” to follow God’s path for their lives.

Back to Victoria’s first accident…it all happened so fast. How was I to know she would pull in behind me at the last second? Otherwise, I’m sure I never would have backed into her. I hope she will let me live it down, but I have my doubts.


Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at




©2015 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists