The Power Of Example
The Power Of Example
Once upon a time there was a local church that had a tradition. For several months each year on a selected night a “Men’s and Boy’s Training Class” was conducted in which those interested were trained and encouraged to develop and use their talents in God’s service. This tradition continued for decades and helped to produce elders, deacons, preachers and other leaders in congregations to which these young men would, in later years, be scattered.
There was an old man in that church that rarely missed one of these classes. Even when he was in his eighties and in poor health he was present. He sat patiently as young men and boys led songs pitched too low and sung too slowly. He listened attentively as several struggled to make it through five minute talks on very basic Bible topics. Others read scripture in a voice that you could barely hear and in a manner that made listening difficult. The old man had never led a song, thus this phase of the training had no application to him. However, he had preached, taught classes and read from the Bible for half a century. But he had forgotten more scripture than most of these young men would ever know. Even in his old age he could still speak with much more skill of Bible themes than those to whom he was listening. He knew he was nearing the end of his life and that his most active years of service and assembly participation were behind him. He could have easily begged off and rationalized, “I’ll not learn anything, I’ll never use any of the training techniques being taught, and it’s difficult listening to the feeble efforts of these novices”. Then why did he attend the training classes? The reason was simple: he was there to encourage and he was aware of the power of his example and the impact it would have upon others if he failed to attend.
I’ve thought of this old man and this training class many times through the years. I’ve thought of it when brethren say they’ll not participate in a class or some assembly because they don’t care for the teacher, or the subject matter is something that doesn’t interest them, or it has no application to them, etc., etc. I’ve wondered if they’ve thought of the power of their example. I’ve wondered if they realize that others are watching, and will remember, what they do and don’t do. And I’ve wondered if it has dawned on them that, by what they are failing to do, they are being a discouragement to others and causing someone else to follow their poor example. And as I ponder these things, I more and more have less and less patience with such conduct.
This church, this class, and this old man are not some fictional scenario I made up to illustrate the power of example. This church is where I grew up. This training class is where I got my first instruction in public service. This old man was my grandfather. I’m glad that he thought about the power of his example and I wish that more would do likewise.