I recently experienced what it means to lead by example in a powerful way.  Two leaders and I were in front of a group of 90 international students explaining small group Bible studies.  The situation was set up in such a way that we were asking the people in the audience to volunteer to join.  We explained the ideas behind Bible study, and told them where on campus each group would be meeting.  Then we called for anyone who lived in a certain part of town to please stand up and go with a leader….

Silence.  Motionless.  Blank stares.

I probably started showing signs of uneasiness and started sweating and my face turned red.   I seriously began to question what we were doing, why wouldn’t anyone get up?  Worry, frustration, doubt, until a single girl meekly rose out of her chair and half raised her hand.  “I would like to join”, she managed to say.  Not three seconds later five other hands shot into the air.  All it took was one person to break the ice.  She had blazed the trail for other people to follow and made it OK to volunteer.  The ensuing meetings saw record numbers signing up for Bible studies because one person was brave enough to say, “I will go.”


Another popular story crafted by Fran Kick which teaches about leading by example goes like this:

The best definition of leadership I can share is by way of an example. At a leadership conference before it began, one person saw that the room was kind of a mess. There were papers on the floor, a Coke® can in the corner, and other miscellaneous remnants indicating that an entire day of classes had occurred in this lecture hall. Before we started the session, one person got up out of his chair, picked up a piece of paper and the Coke® can, threw them out and sat back down. Not less than maybe 30-60 seconds later, two other people got up, went around and picked up trash near their chairs, threw it out and sat back down. That first person was leading by the most effective form of leadership possible, leading by example.

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As leaders we wield an immense power with the example that we set.  Take a moment and think about each of your leadership roles and how people perceive you.  What example are you setting?

Have you experienced an example of someone leading by example?  Share in the comments below!