Ep. 203 Your Example Has More Impact Than Your Teaching

Shows Main Idea – Teaching is a vital aspect of our lives. Without sound teaching, how shall we know God’s directives and desires for us? But did you know that there is a more powerful shaping influence in your life? The things that had the most impact on your life came from the words and actions of others, not primarily from their teaching.

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Show Notes

For a fuller explanation on these matters, listen to the podcast. If you wish to discuss these things with me, please go here.

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Let’s test my thesis. Think about the last high-profile celebrity leader, someone you respected, who disqualified himself from ministry. When you hear their names now, aren’t you reminded of what they did before you think about all they taught you? Or when you think about all they taught you, are you tempted to think about their fall?

What about your daddy? When you think about him, aren’t his words and actions the first things that come to your mind, even more than his instruction? Perhaps you think of his “biblical instruction” but reflex immediately to the kind of life he lived, specifically, how his life impacted yours.

Think about one of those cherished moments from your childhood. More than likely, you’re thinking about what someone did for you positively. Perhaps it was their words. Maybe it was something they did. Of course, the adverse is also true: your most painful moments came from the hurtful words or hurtful behaviors of others.

Here’s My Point: People absorb your day-to-day life more than they process and respond to your instruction. When it comes to impacting lives, there is no question that actions speak louder than words. The warning is sobering and the consequences are severe if the life that you’re living is out-of-line with the teaching of the gospel.

The Leader Types

Everyone is a leader because there is always someone who is watching, learning, and imitating your life. The question is never, “are you a leader” but “what kind of leader are you?” You have to choose how you want to lead others, even if the only person you’re “leading” is one soul.

There are three typical leader types:

  • Those who do not care about God or His Word?
  • Those who profess Christ, but their lifestyle is incoherent when mirrored to God’s Word.
  • Those who are genuinely following Christ, which their lifestyle and friends affirm. Their attitudes, words, actions, and teaching are not incongruent.

The most dangerous type of these three kinds of leaders is the hypocrite—number two. The God-rejector is living according to his beliefs, so you know what you’re getting with him. And though his actions can have an ongoing, adverse impact on your life, it won’t be because he was inconsistent with his orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

The hypocrite adds another layer of complexity to the vulnerable person’s life. It is one thing to be hurt by an “honest” God-rejector (number one), but when the person “names the name of Christ,” it confuses and distorts the thinking of those impacted by his words and actions.

Imagine the little girl yelled at by her father—and they all attend church meetings each Sunday. Even worse, he serves in the church and his “church peers” respect him. In every case, this child will have a difficult time trusting God because of the confusion between an earthly father and a heavenly one. Additionally, her daddy distorts Christianity. And that distortion bleeds into the church, where he has a place to exercise his hypocrisy.

I’m not blaming the church because it is not their fault if a person becomes an attendee but keeps his sins hidden from view. The point-of-focus still needs to be on the hypocrite who could change all of this by repenting.

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Who Is Leading Your Home?

The Best Leader

The purest form of biblical leadership is the imperfect leader, who is objectively living for Christ. I say, “imperfect” because we cannot imitate Christ perfectly. Nobody “nails it” ten times out of ten or every moment of their day. We never expect a person to be perfect, but you do want them to try sincerely.

There is a plan for authentic leaders who fail occasionally. It’s called the doctrine of repentance. The only people group in the world that can transform themselves in a long-term, sustainable way are Christians. (See James 4:6; 1 John 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Episodic failure is much different from a pattern of failure. The first happens to all of us. The second is the habituation of a person who does not know how to repent, or is unwillling to (Galatians 6:1-2).

Call to Action

  1. If you want to know what the Christ-life looks like, the Bible gives us two excellent templates. See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23. You may pull out all the descriptors in those two texts and write them down the left-hand side of a sheet of paper. Then write out beside each one an area where you are appropriating the grace of God in your life and an aspect of your life that you must change.
  2. If you are married, ask your spouse how you can change to be a consistent Christlike leader. If you’re unwilling to do this, there is something wrong with you, your spouse, or both. You must fix whatever is wrong because you not only exporting your life to others, but you’re modeling Christ and His church through your marriage.
  3. If you’re not married, ask someone who knows you well how you’re doing in the areas outlined on those two templates from Corinthians and Timothy.
  4. Memorize these three texts: Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9.
  5. Familiarize yourself with my teaching on the “doctrine of repentance” and begin to align your life with the things you need to change.
  6. Share this podcast, teaching, infographic, and video with a friend, and “make” them hold you accountable for change. Do not expect them to be consistent in asking the hard questions. Accountability soul care will work if you want it to work.
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