Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” As leaders, we desire to be an example for those we are leading. To be certain we are the example we need to be, we must first make sure we are following Jesus’ example. We must imitate Him so that others can imitate us.
Jesus lived a life of love and service. We ought also to live this way; we are to love others as He loved us (John 13:34-35). Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us that walking in love is being an imitator of God. In Jesus’ statement about the commandment to love your neighbor, He said it was like the first and greatest—loving God with your whole being. That phrase, “the second is like it,” relays to us that it is just like it; it is the same. Our love for those around us reflects our love for God. In fact, we read in 1 John that if we do not love, it is because we do not know God; and we cannot love others if we don’t love God. Those we are to love encompasses everyone from our fellow believers to our enemies. No one is outside the realm of Jesus’ love; therefore, they should not be outside the realm of our love.
Jesus said we are to love as He loves and to follow His example of being a servant. He gave us this example when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-15). The specific act of washing the disciples’ feet shows us the attitude that we are to have in our serving. His attitude was one of humility and doing for them what was normally done by a servant or a slave. By washing their feet, He was putting Himself below them and honoring them. We are to serve those we lead with the same attitudes.
Jesus also gave us an example in His sufferings and His response to them. Peter teaches us about following that example in 1 Peter 2:21. As we suffer for doing good, our desire should be not to revile or threaten, just as Jesus did not do those things. Although we are not fully able to be without sin, we do have the power of the Holy Spirit within us to cause us to respond in the same way Jesus did.
In John’s first epistle, he emphatically tells us that if we abide in Jesus, we ought to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). He says this following his statements about keeping God’s commandments. Our walk is the manner in which we live our lives. That manner should reflect Jesus, and it will if we are following God’s commandments.
We don’t lead so that others become like us. We lead so they become like Christ. As we follow Christ’s example, as we become more and more like Him, then those we are leading will be able to imitate us, and thus become more like Him.