Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 Elements of Setting the Right Example

I have lived my life in two completely opposite ways.  One way was blatantly not pursuing God and a godly lifestyle, and the other way was passionately pursuing God and a godly lifestyle.  Now, while these are seemingly opposite, these two ways of living do have some common traits.

Most notably, both include sinful choices.  Sin can be defined as any choice I make that is other than the choice God wants me to make.  I can make sins of omission - where I don't do what God wants me to do.  I can make sins of comission where I do something I shouldn't do.  Both are sin.  And sin is part of every life - I don't care who you are.  The Pope, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, the Apostle Paul and Saint Peter all struggle(d) with sin.  We've all got it.  Me.  You.  Everyone.

When you pursue God, you don't stop committing sin.  But I do think you are more aware of it, more remorseful over it, and more committed to changing it.  Paul talked about this in Philippians 3:13-14 

"I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of [perfection]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

What's really notable is that he goes on to say "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." (Phil 3:17, NIV)

Even though Paul recognized his own ongoing struggle with sin, he still knew he was a good example for others to follow.

How can you be a good example?  I'm glad you asked!

1)  Humility is an essential starting ingredient.  The moment you think you have 'arrived', you have moved into the 'bad example' column.  Why? Because pride and inflated ego are never examples to follow.  Paul knew how to say, "Look, I've still got struggles.  I haven't arrived at perfection yet."  More than that, he wasn't just speaking in 'theory'.  Rather, he could name his sin, talk about his struggles, identify his weaknesses.  Can you?  Being a good example means you decide to take a hard look inward and be self-aware enough to know your own shortcomings.

2)  By definition, a good example pursues God and godly living.  I don't just want to be 'moral'.  Everyone already knows they shouldn't steal and murder.  But pursuing God and godly living means that I have an all encompassing focus: to be the person God wants me to be.  It requires sacrifice, denial of my own wants and whims, and puts the needs of others above my own.  Is your life self-oriented or God-oriented?

3)  Good example listens.  Someone worth following is constantly open to the reality that God might speak through all kinds of voices in all kinds of places.  My kids.  My parents.  My spouse.  My friends.  Even my enemies.  Are you listening?

4) Good example loves God.  This is different than pursuing godly living.  An example worth following invests in the relationship they have with God.  How much time and effort do you really give here?

5) Good example has a record that gets better over time.  No one ever bats a thousand.  You have some blemishes on your record...and more to come.  A poor example gets it wrong far more than they get it right. A good example, however, has an improving record.  I look back on my life and see my batting average getting better.  It's a slow kind of progress, but it's still progress.

Ask your family to give you some feedback on these things.  Listen to what they say.  You might just find that God Himself is speaking to you.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Excellent post and a great follow up to yesterday's message!