I drove to Greenville, MS recently to preach. The pastor, John Garrott, requested I come early Saturday and meet with a group of about 20 church leaders at 5 o’clock at a restaurant called Cicero’s in Leland, MS. Leland is a few miles before you arrive in Greenville. He said the restaurant, Cicero’s, is just off Hwy 82.
I arrived in Leland about 30 minutes early, but saw no sign to the restaurant. I toured the little town of Leland looking for the restaurant, but I couldn’t find it. I then went to a convenience store on Hwy 82 to ask for directions. The lady working the cash register was very accommodating. She initially tried to give directions, but then suggested we go outside the store so she could point and tell me more clearly. She said, “Do you see that truck over on that street that’s not the main street?” There were a lot of trucks and a lot of streets. She then said, “You’ll have to make several turns to get to the restaurant.” I was confused.
At this time, a Mississippi State Trooper entered the convenience store. The lady asked if he could give me better directions. He began by sending me in the opposite direction and telling me about several turns. He then said, “It’s really difficult to get there from here.” I told him I was a Methodist preacher and he immediately said, “A Methodist preacher – you better just follow me and I’ll take you to the restaurant!”
Reverend Garrott called to tell me that he also had difficulty finding the restaurant. He and the leaders were there and said he would be out in the parking lot looking for me. He asked for a description of my car, and I said “A Mississippi State Trooper Car!” Now get this picture – on a Saturday night I came rolling up to the restaurant with a Mississippi State Trooper leading the way. It’s so much better to be following a state trooper than to have a state trooper following you!! I told the officer that I was really glad he let me follow him to the restaurant. He smiled. He knew that he had made a good decision.
Giving directions verbally can be confusing. Offering to lead a person to a destination is best. Example is always better than words. How we live speaks more effectively than what we say!
My good friend, Dr. Jim Vickrey taught a communications course at Troy University. One day in class he asked each student to stand and give directions of how to reach their dorm room or apartment. Each student stood and gave elaborate directions involving multiple turns and landmarks to try and follow. The directions were confusing.
Then a young man stood up and looked around the room. After a few seconds he said, “I can show you better than I can tell you. Come follow me.” I’m sure that boy got an “A” in the class. Showing is always better than telling.
When Jesus invited the disciples to follow him, he didn’t give verbal directions about where they were going – he simply said, “Follow Me.” (Mat. 2:14) Jesus taught by example. He said, “I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
I’m thankful for that Mississippi State Trooper who was perceptive enough to know that I would have never made it to the restaurant without following him. A church leader commented that I was the only speaker they had ever had who had arrived with a law enforcement escort!!