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News for Friday, March 7, 2014

Opinion — Reflections
Leading By Example Is the Jesus Way
By Lonnie Wilkey
editor, Baptist and Reflector

“Do as I say, not as I do.” Have you ever heard that said to you or have you said it to your children?

Hopefully not, because that statement is a very poor leadership model.

Over the years I have observed that the best leaders are those who modeled servant leadership. They never asked those following to do something they were not willing to do themselves.

Servant leadership is certainly biblical. Jesus, Himself, modeled servant leadership when He washed His disciples’ feet.

Jesus modeled leadership when He walked miles upon miles, preaching, teaching, and healing.

In Tennessee and across the Southern Baptist Convention we bemoan the lack of baptisms, declining numbers in church attendance and other areas, and decreasing Cooperative Program gifts. I believe the tide can turn in our convention if ministers and lay leaders in our churches will lead by example.

We say we are concerned with lost people. Do we witness?

We say we want to give more money through the Cooperative Program to reach our state, nation, and world for Christ, but have we encouraged our churches to give more?

We say we are concerned that people aren’t being discipled, but will we teach a class to help people understand what it means to be a Christian or what it means to be a Southern Baptist?

On Feb. 22 I had the opportunity and privilege to attend the Northwest Tennessee Deacon and Pastor Conference held at First Baptist Church in Church Hill.

On an absolutely beautiful Saturday with moderate temperatures, more than 400 men attended this deacons conference.

Included in that total were a fairly large number of pastors who led by example and attended the meeting along with their deacons.

It is one thing to suggest to your deacons they should go and get some training while you stay home and play golf or go fishing.

But when you are willing to sacrifice your Saturday, those under your leadership are much more likely to follow suit.

Jackson pastor Justin Wainscott of First Baptist Church has a similar feeling about pastors having an influence in congregational singing (see column below).

Wainscott notes that one reason church members don’t participate as they should in Sunday morning singing is that “while everyone is supposed to be singing together, we’re busy fumbling through our notes or looking around at who’s there or not there. Or worse, we just stand there with our arms folded, waiting on “our” turn.”

Leaders do lead by example, both good and bad.

I recently interviewed a pastor for an upcoming feature in the B&R. He has been at one church for more than 30 years and the church has shown steady growth during that time.

Though he gives God all the glory, this pastor cited his willingness to “never ask the church to do anything that I would not do myself” as a major factor.

This principle applies not only to ministers but to lay leaders in the church as well.

We should not ask the congregation to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves.

For instance, if your church decides to construct a new building, everyone who agrees to serve on that building committee or the stewardship committee, which will try to secure funding, must be willing to lead by example and give and work toward that project.

It’s poor leadership to ask others to do something you will not do yourself.

Jesus never did. He set the standard for leadership.

Scripture challenges us in Titus 2:7: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.”

Someone (author unknown) once wrote, “A good example is the best sermon.”

Another unknown author wrote, “A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice.”

In other words, words without action are basically worthless.

The best way to be a truly effective leader, whether it is in our homes, churches, or businesses, is to follow the example of Jesus Christ who washed the feet of His disciples.

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