Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV
Note the order in the above verse – first, Paul followed the example of Jesus as he sought to live and lead like Jesus. Next, he encouraged others to follow his personal example as he followed Jesus. Many, many things can be learned and internalized by imitating others.
Yes, we are all imperfect people who are all in process. None of us can claim to ‘have arrived.’ We are all patients in the same hospital, everyone checks in and no one checks out until we finish our race. Those of us who have been in the hospital longer than others can point the newcomers to the treatment rooms. But we humbly acknowledge that we still go to the same treatment rooms ourselves.
Let’s not let the fact that we are growing and moving towards maturity, with our evident shortcomings and weaknesses, mute us from intentionally modeling Jesus-like life and leadership for others. The Lord is not looking for perfect people to lead in His Kingdom. He is looking for those who acknowledge their dependency upon Him, humbly submit to His leadership in their lives and seek to apply what they learn from Him in their own lives and leadership of others.
This principle of modeling for others automatically rules out the phrase, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As has been said, “If it doesn’t work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!” As a Kingdom leader, others are continually watching your example for guidance in how to navigate their own life. They will do what you do, not what you say. If you make excuses for why the ‘rules’ don’t apply to you, they too will feel the freedom to live as they desire. Your example carries a lot of influence – hopefully for good!
Where are Kingdom leaders challenged to be examples for others? Below are several passages that relate specifically to Kingdom leaders as models and examples for others to imitate.
Hebrews 13:7 ESV – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
1 Timothy 4:12 ESV – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Peter 5:1-3 ESV – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Titus 2:7-8 ESV – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Are you aware that many others are watching your life and will copy what you do and say? This reality should be sobering and keep us close to Him as we steward the responsibilities that He has entrusted to us.
May we all say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ!”