In order to lead confidently, you must be reasonably sure that you are someone that others should follow. You must believe that the words you speak and ways you model are worth following if you are going to encourage others to imitate you. But this must be done with care and with a caveat.
If you are someone that people naturally follow there is always a temptation to conform them to your own image. But if we are merely seeking to enlist others into a clone army our domain we will soon become an evil empire, and all the usual totalitarian impulses will rise up in us. We become agitated that those we seek to control won’t get with our clearly delineated program. The ego inflates, the nose elevates, and the eyes can’t bear to look below.
“What is with these people, Lord? Why won’t they become more like me? Why can’t they see that my way is the best way? Don’t they see how balanced/godly/disciplined I am? How can they not want that for themselves?”
Like me, you have probably never said these things to God… out loud! But try saying them to yourself now and see if there isn’t a ring of truth to them. When we ask these questions of God and fail to see how foolish they are, pride stokes the furnace of ego and the fire of evil is not far off. In being frustrated with the lack in others we are reinforced in our impressions of our own superiority.
So there is a dark side to inviting people to imitate us. If we do not deny the temptation to become the focal point of people’s affections, we will end up doing a lot of damage – to them and to us. It is a risky course of action. But it is a risk we are commanded to take.
Inviting people to imitate us only goes badly when when we are the end point of their affections. More than once the Apostle Paul implores the people to whom he is writing, “Be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17). But this cuts two ways and it cuts fast. When we ask others to imitate those areas of our lives which are not conformed to the way of Christ, we lead them into nothing but sin.
Paul says imitate me, but with a caveat. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1) When we speak the caveat, we give permission to reject anything in us that doesn’t conform to that standard. If we do that we will have a chance at keeping the false god Ego in check. We kill that monster of ego with humility.
If you want to learn humility, opportunities are not in short supply. Simply submit to the path that God is pointing you down and begin to walk. Before long, your opportunities will come along.