The Imitation Game

By Dick Loizeaux

When it comes to leadership development I confess there were times when I became so concerned with methodology, technique and curriculum, the latest seminar or latest book, that I neglected the most important part of leadership development. Not instruction  
but imitation.

We learned it as children: “Monkey see, monkey do.”
We learned it from our parents: “You can tell but never teach until you practice what you preach.”
We learned it from out critics: “What you’re doing screams so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
We learned it in school: “Values are caught more than taught.“
We learned it in ministry training from 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT) when Paul says: “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Got it? “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”
The Imitation Game.
We learn it. We know it. We believe it. But how well do we practice it? 

Jesus developed his group of leaders by saying “Follow me.” It was that simple. “Watch me. Listen to me. Follow my example. Do as I do. Imitate me.”
Jesus still wants to develop his leaders by the imitation game. Not imitate style. Imitate character, behavior, attitude and values as they follow Christ. Jesus wants us to be able to say to our future leaders: “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 

Not as I follow Christ perfectly, but as I follow intentionally, passionately, unreservedly and imperfectly.
And from my imperfections, learn about a wondrous thing called grace.  That may be the greatest lesson of all. 

Here is the principle: Leaders form leaders by the way we live. That is the most powerful form of leadership development. Why? Because that is how God created us to learn. If you don’t believe it re-read the axioms listed above. 

Leaders form leaders by the way we live. The Bible tells us that again and again. Just listen to a few: 

1 Thessalonians 1:6 “So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.” (NLT)
Coaching Question: If the leaders you are developing imitate you, will they learn how to grit their teeth and endure suffering, or how to live with joy in spite of suffering?  

2 Thessalonians 3: 7,9 “For you know that you ought to imitate us…we worked hard…we wanted to give you an example to follow.” (NLT)
Coaching Question: If the leaders you are developing imitate you, will they learn to work hard, I mean “Whatever it takes” hard, or will they learn to punch a time clock at 40 hours? 

Hebrews 13:7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (NLT)
Coaching Question: If the leaders you are developing imitate you, will they learn solid biblical faith or encouraging stories and motivational sayings?  Will they learn persevering, risk taking, hope-generating life-giving faith? Or will they learn the kind of faith that is strongest when obstacles and opposition    
are smallest? 

Hebrews 6:12 “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (NIV)
Coaching Question: If the leaders you are developing imitate you, will they learn patience faithfulness over the long haul, or irritability and anxiety? 

Have you noticed that we have now covered 3 three of the fruits of the Spirit?
Coaching Question: If the leaders you are developing imitate you, will they learn all the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control?
That list always keeps me humble and teachable. And motivated. 

Recently the elders of a Converge MidAmerica church spent the weekend evaluating the results of a Natural Church Development (NCD) survey of their church. The results were disappointingly low. Their minimum factor was Loving Relationships. They brainstormed about ways the score for Loving Relationships could be improved. Then one elder cut through the clutter and said something profound.

He said, “Loving relationships begins with us.” It begins right here. It begins now.”

Preach it brother. Because values are caught more than taught. Leaders form leaders by the way we live. Imitate us as we imitate Christ.
The Imitation Game.

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Church Leadership, Church Administration, Church Planting Articles, Leadership, Dick Loizeaux