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To change people, set an example for them to follow.


If you would make disciples, set an example for them to follow.

If you would make disciples like Jesus, say, like Jesus, "Come follow me."  Jesus didn't say, "Come, listen to me." He said to follow Him. That is what discipleship is all about. It is all about setting an example for people to follow. It is not about telling them about the Christian life, it is about living the life before them and having them follow you.

If you would make disciples, do it like Paul did. Say what Paul said, "so I beg you, please follow my example." 1 Corinthians 4:16 (NCV) He didn't say to follow his teachings or to read his letters, he said to follow his example.

You say you don't feel qualified to be an example? Here is a scary thought: you are an example whether you want to be or not.

This is one of the key points I make in the 10 Marks of I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E. Teachers Seminar: your example sets the ceiling above which your life cannot influence them to rise. People will follow our examples whether we want them to or not.

We can see the importance of example from another perspective. I often have Pastors and Ministers of Ed say to me, "I know your principle work. How do I get my people to work them?" My answer is always the same: lead by example. The reason Sunday School works at Woodstock is that Johnny Hunt leads by example. He attends Sunday School every week.

Modern research so often illustrates old biblical truths, as is the case here. If you have not read Influencer yet, run, don't walk, to the nearest book store and get your copy. I have read it multiple times and continue to do so with great interest and profit. Consider this great story on the power of influence:

One of Bandura’s classic studies demonstrated, for example, how powerfully our behavior is shaped by observing others. This came at a time when most psychologists believed that behavior was solely influenced by the direct rewards and punishments people experienced. This was the age of strict behaviorism. And yet Bandura’s intense curiosity about how to change human behavior made him impatient with such sim­plistic explanations. So he took a daring swing at the established dogma and began an exodus toward a much more powerful theory.

Seeing a rise in violence corresponding with the diffusion of television, Bandura thought it worthwhile to examine whether juveniles were learning violent behaviors by watching TV characters smack, kick, and shoot one another. To explore the effects of TV violence, Bandura and a team of graduate students watched closely as nursery school children played in a small room packed with toys—dolls, tiny stoves, balls, and so forth. Among this tempting array of playthings was a “Bobo doll”—a large plastic blow-up doll with a weight in the bottom. If you punch the doll in the nose, it bounces right back so you can punch it again.

Left to their own devices, children played with several of the toys, moving from one to the next—occasionally giving Bobo a punch or two. But what if researchers demonstrated novel aggressive behavior for the children? Would kids learn through simple observation? To answer this question, Bandura showed a different group of children a short movie of a woman modeling novel aggressive behavior. She pummeled the Bobo doll with a mallet. She flung the plastic toy into the air, kicked it repeatedly, and eventually sat on it and beat it. That seemed novel enough.

The children who watched the film were then released one at a time into the toy room. Would simple modeling influence their behavior? You only have to watch the black-and-white film segments taken of the experiment for a few seconds to answer the question. A little girl wearing a dress—complete with a 50s-style poofy petticoat—enters the room, digs through the toys until she finds the mallet, and starts whaling on Bobo. She and the dozens of other nursery school kids who followed her demonstrate all the aggressive behavior they had seen modeled—including inventive new forms of aggression such as beating the doll with a cap gun. In Bandura’s own words, “They added creative embellishments. One girl actually transforms a doll into a weapon of assault.” There she is—that cute little girl in the frilly outfit—smacking Bobo with Raggedy Ann.

 In addition to demonstrating that humans are influenced by watching the behavior of others, Bandura was able to prove that the violence pumped out by the television networks was likely to exact a terrible toll on viewers. Dr. Bandura caps his review of his classic study by stating with a twinkle: “This research didn’t get me onto the Christmas-card list of the broadcast industry.” But it did put him smack dab in the center of influence research. --Influencer : The Power to Change Anything (Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny)

If  you would like to see some videos of Bandura's experiment, here is one:


If you would make disciples of Christ, lead by example. Say to them:

  • Read your Bibles as I read my Bible
  • Pray as I pray
  • Serve as I serve
  • Love your wife as I love my wife
  • Follow Christ as I follow Christ


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