I was recently asked, “Tom, what is a good way to develop a platform for influencing others?” I replied that a powerful means for influence is your own example and recounted this story of unknown origin that illustrates the power of modeling.
A young man sat on a bench in his train compartment opposite an older gentleman who was engaged in reading his bible. The young man thought he recognized the older man as one of his personal heroes – a preacher who had great impact and a worldwide ministry. Seizing the opportunity to talk with his hero, he worked up his courage, cleared his throat and asked him a question.
“Excuse me, sir, but aren’t you Mr. …?” he timidly asked. Putting aside his bible, the older man responded affirmatively. “Sir,” the young man continued, “I have admired your ministry for a long time and so desire to have the type of influence you have for Jesus. Is there any advice the you would have for me to gain that influence which you now have?”
The old saint thought for a moment and then said, “Young man, I find that if you set yourself on fire, others will come and watch you burn!”
Never underestimate the power of your own example. Point others to Christ and His Kingdom by the way you live as well as your words. Live your personal calling in such a way as others take notice that you are one whose life backs up what you so proclaim.
Aside from the Bible, the biographies of great men and women of God have more shaped me as a Kingdom leader than any other books. These ‘historical mentors’ have modeled a way, having blazed a trail that I seek to follow.
Yes, “Leaders are readers!” – but be careful what you read. Saturate your life with the Scriptures and regularly read biographies of those who were used of God to change the world. Then, others will come and follow the trail you leave behind.
Is your example worth following?