Hebrews 13:7 and 8 give us a mandate for all Christians in regards to their relationship with their leaders.
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
As Christians we are to think back on how respected Christian leaders lived and died and learn vicariously for our own lives. The reason we can do this with confidence is because Jesus Christ is the same in the past, present and future!
We can obey this mandate by remembering and considering the lives of: BIBLICAL (e.g Moses, David, Joseph, Daniel, Paul etc), HISOTRICAL (Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, Watchman Nee etc) and CONTEMPORARY (e.g. Louie Giglio, John Piper, Francis Chan, Pete Greig, Rob Rufus, and local Church pastors) types of leaders.
But what happens when we do this? Why is it good for us to do this? What is to be gained? Bobby Clinton outlines five benefits of obeying the Leadership Mandate:
- We experientially learn the providence of God. By looking and observing the lives of others, we can grow in confidence and trust in the power and sovereignty of God. I remember when I was young being read the biography of Brother Yun, and how God repeatedly rescued Him from prisons and provided for his needs. This book established in me a confidence of God’s care in my life.
- We grow in our sense of continuity of God’s working in our past. As we match the stories of other leaders with the events and experiences of our lives gone past. We can see more clearly what God has been up to in our lives.
- We grow in our anticipation that God is going to use us in the future. As we identify patterns we can anticipate with greater excitement about what God is going to do. I find it interesting for example that both David and Joseph were given prophecies when they were young people, and both faced many hardships before they saw the dreams fulfilled. And yet in both cases God raised them to be mighty leaders with impact across nations!
- We learn vicariously through the experiences of those we study. How much better it would be to learn through the failures and mistakes of others than to make the same mistakes they did. How much quicker to learn the insights that took a man twenty years to discern. Learning vicariously is usually easier, quicker and enables us to ‘fast track’ to where God wants us to be.
- We begin to perceive others in terms of the concepts learned, our perception of their potential is increased. If we want to be effective leaders, we must make leadership selection and development a primary function. By studying the lives of those who have gone before us, we become more skilled in identifying and developing younger leaders!
I think this is why Paul was able to say: imitate me as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1).