Friday, July 17

Influencing others through our own example (No. 1-3)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. Phil.3:17

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you...but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 2Thes.3:7,9

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 1Tim.4:12 all things show yourself to be an example... Tit.2:7

These have got to be some of the scariest admonitions in the New Testament. Model for others Christian living? Expect others to follow our example? Actually teach our disciples to imitate our behavior? Live as I do?


That's what Paul is saying above. Disciples are expected to follow the example of the one discipling them.

Albert Einstein said it this way, Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.

The implications of this for discipleship are enormous. By nature we learn by imitating how others live and do things. Jesus spent three years living, modeling, mentoring, teaching the twelve by his example. Paul sought to implement this kind of discipleship amongst the churches he planted as evidenced in the above verses. We too must follow these patterns.

For quite some time now I have been making a list of things I believe are important truths and principles for those I am serving. My desire is that they too live and practice these things in their own lives. My conviction is I cannot teach others these things, unless I am first personally living them in my own life.

I have waited close to a year to begin teaching some of these things. It is important to me to make sure I was first living them, before asking my disciples (and others I teach) to "imitate me" and "follow my example."

In the coming days, I hope to share a series of posts, each sharing three "essentials" for being an effective follower of Jesus Christ. I believe all truth is God's truth. All these truths and practices find their basis in God's Word, though not all are direct Biblical admonitions.

The three tests I use before teaching any of these are: 1) am I personally living fairly consistently this truth/practice? 2) is this something my disciples should be practicing as well for their own well being? 3) what can I do to help my disciples to begin implementing these things in their own lives?

1. Identify the "nails" that keep the shoes on your horse. Benjamin Franklin is often credited for these lines:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

We rightfully need to focus on the "battle and the kingdom", but unless we carefully tend to the details (the nails) that keep the shoe on the horse, the battle for the kingdom will be lost.

For me there are seven "nails" that I try to live consistently and have begun to teach others to imitate from my life:

1) daily quiet time with the Lord,
2) daily exercise for at least 30-minutes,
3) daily family readings/devotions/prayer,
4) daily one-on-one focused conversation with my wife giving her my full attention,
5) weekly date with my wife,
6) family night one night per week to play, talk, have fun together,
7) at least one daily sit-down-together family meal.

2. Never belittle anyone. People live bashed lives and are continually being belittled by the world and those around them, made to feel inferior and stupid. In our dealings with people seek to edify, build up, encourage, be the one to share the "bright side" of things, speaking with a Colossians 4:6 tongue: "with grace, as though seasoned with salt..."

3. Watch out daily for the "3 D's of the Devil". The Devil's most effective tools in his arsenal against followers of Christ are: discouragement, distraction, and division. Satan is our enemy. He is constantly trying to discourage and tear us down, making us feel like unworthy failures. If that doesn't work he tries to distract us with a lot of busy work and activity. It may even be "good stuff" but distracts us from what is truly relevant Kingdom matters. If all else fails, he will seek to divide brothers. An offense, a hasty word, an attitude, an opinion--anything can be used by the Devil to divide brothers. Sometimes he unleashes all three D's at the same time. Be aware of the 3 D's. They will hit you in one form or another today!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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