Lead by Example

By Joel Comiskey, check out, Groups that Thrive

Fall 2018

I’m reading a book called “Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.” Lee was the general of the Northern Virginian Army  during the American Civil War (1861-1865). He was as a great general, and even though the confederate army lost the war, and Lee ultimately surrendered to Grant  (and I’m very grateful that slavery ended as a result), Lee is still revered for his leadership ability. According to the book, one of the things that made Lee a great general was that he led by example. He slept in a tent, just like the troops, although he could have easily requested special housing. He ate the same food as the troops even though he could have asked for anything he wanted. He often personally led the troops into battle to inspire their courage. Yes, Lee was a great leader and strategist, but he also led by example.

Paul said something similar in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul led by example. So how does this apply to a cell church? In general, show others what you want them to do through your example.

This is a huge issue for most pastors. They might like to have their members join small groups, but they are not willing to lead by example. Rather they would prefer to delegate small group ministry to someone else.

Yes, it does help if you worked your way up through the cell system by first being a member of a cell, then co-leader, leader, coach, and finally pastor. This process ensures that the vision is part of your being. It’s a lifestyle. Yet, most pastors don’t have this privilege. So what can you do?

  • Envision what you want to become. One pastor recently asked me to put him in contact with the Elim Church because he wanted to go there and experience the vision firsthand.
  • Lead by example. When I first started coaching this pastor and learning about his situation, I encouraged him to start with a pilot group, so that all future groups would flow from the one he started. I wanted this pastor to experience cell life, so he could then pass it on to the first leaders. As the pilot group members see him facilitating the group, asking questions, and leading the cell meeting, they will do what he’s doing. They will follow his example.
  • Feed the vision. This particular pastor reads the daily JCG blogs and that was one reason he originally contacted me about coaching. I also assigned him other books to feed and grow his vision. My desire is that this  pastor will increasingly be able to connect his Sunday preaching to cell life—and people will accept his words when they see him living it.

John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, would often say, “People value what they do and they do what they value.” Do you want to know what a person values, just watch what they’re doing. This is true for pastors.

Take the next step. Remember the words of Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”