What does it look like to be a good example?
“You are a hardcore student of the Word,” he told me. I didn’t think much about it. I just took it as a compliment and moved on. People say these sorts of things to me from time to time. But after thinking about my passion for God’s Word, I remember that it didn’t start with me. I can’t take the credit. The story starts with two college roommates.
The Blessing of a Good Example
In college, at least my first year, I was immature in my faith. Though I trusted in Christ in junior high, I didn’t see regular Bible reading and prayer as an essential part of my day. I didn’t understand the concept of a private devotional life. I saw Christianity as a Sunday morning and Wednesday evening thing. The reason why I didn’t develop a devotional life until six years after my conversion was because I didn’t have anyone show me how to do it.
But that changed my Sophomore year.
I moved into an apartment with two guys who, in many ways, were unlike me. Our personalities couldn’t be more different. As the days went on after I moved into that small apartment on that anxious August evening, I began to notice their habits, their rituals, and the things they did when no one’s watching (except me, apparently). And over time, I saw two strong devotional lives. These men devoured God’s Word and spent regular time in private prayer. They took the Bible seriously. They left an impact on me that is difficult to articulate.
I saw the spiritual fruits and effects of a regular devotional life from these two men, and it soon impacted me. I started to read my Bible regularly and learn how to pray in private. I was inspired to change my life, and it was mostly by way of example.
The thing about this is:
- They never lectured me.
- They never compared their devotional life to mine.
- They never made me feel inferior.
- They never really encouraged me to be like them.
They just set a good example for me. They pursued Jesus, and I eventually became intrigued. Eventually, I followed their example.
Yes, words matter. Yes, the quote “Preach the gospel always; use words when necessary” is sort of ridiculous. Yes, faith comes by hearing. Yes, yes, and yes. But in conjunction with our correct words must be an attractive example. By setting a godly example, you can make a big impact on others; often more than you realize. As I heard one guy say, “The fruitfulness of your life is largely hidden from you.”
Some things are caught, not taught, as the old saying goes. And while I’m a voracious reader and love learning through reading books, the ever so important rhythm of a devotional life is not something I learned from a book, but from two godly men.
Some Good Examples
When I think of good examples, a few types of people come to mind. I won’t mention everyone who comes to mind, but below are a few.
In no particular order:
First, I think of expositional preachers. I think of those unnamed heroes of the faith, the guys who preach the Bible week-by-week, verse-by-verse, and teach God’s word. Expositional preachers glorify God and set a good example for their flock because they showcase that God’s words are more important than their own.
They also set good exegetical and hermeneutical examples. Good preachers say stuff like: “Look with me in verse x.” “Look what Paul says next. . .” “Look back with me at the word ‘all’ in Ephesians 1:11.” They want your face in the Bible. Perhaps even without knowing it, they set a good example for the flock.
Second, I think of those of you in the workplace. Maybe you work in retail or medicine or sales or whatever. You are not inferior because you’re not a full-time ministry leader. You can bring just as much glory to God as any ole preacher. Perhaps you already know this, but as soon as your co-workers find out that you’re a Christ-follower, all eyes will be on you. Even if they never tell you, they’ll be watching your every move. For what? They’re checking to see if you’re a hypocrite just like everyone else or if you’re the real deal.
When I worked a retail sales job for a few years, some of the guys made fun of me for my faith. By God’s grace, I hung in there and over time, they began to respect me. I had some evangelistic conversations (but not many). I invited my (really lost) boss to come to church, and he actually came. I saw some fruitfulness, and it didn’t really take much — just a godly example. I’m grateful for all the Christians in the workforce who are competent at their job and glorify God with their words and actions.
Finally, I think of Christian parents. Childhood is tough. Many of our issues stem from mommy and daddy issues. And while we’re all sinners and fall short of God’s glory, including Christian parents, I’m grateful for those who set a godly example for their children. Lord willing, when my wife and I have kids, I hope to do the same.
Of course, I can name more of those who set a godly example, but those are just three quick things that come to mind.
How about you? Does your profession of Christ with your words match your life at work? Are you setting a good, godly example for those around you?
This is relevant for young people: “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 Tim. 4:12).
This is relevant for pastors: “Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).
Really, this is the call of every Christian: to glorify God and edify other believers by setting a good example.
If you enjoyed, The Blessing of a Good Example, you may also like: