1 Samuel 18:16
But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
“Preacher, do you know what I love about you?” This was a statement of one of my church members as we were driving down the road. He continued this statement by saying, “What I love about you is that you lead us by example.” We were discussing my preaching schedule, and I happened to mention that a preacher wanted me to stay and preach a meeting at his church, which would have caused me to miss our Saturday church-wide soul winning time. This man had been in other churches, and saw how other pastors didn't show up for the soul winning times, even though they preached that all should do it. Whether other preachers go soul winning or not I do not know; the one thing I do know is that the power of example is what has made a difference in the soul winning atmosphere of my church.
One reason David was such a great leader was because he led by example. The verse above says that Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. David was not just a leader who told people to do something, but they saw him do it. David could have gone out and come in by himself, but it was leading from the front by example that caused people to want to follow David. The glaring difference between Saul and David was that Saul commanded his soldiers to do things, and David led his followers to do what they were supposed to do.
The greatest leader leads more by example than by telling others what to do, or by fear of what they will do to those who won't do what they are told to do. Any person can use their position to threaten if someone doesn't do something, but the greatest leader leads by doing what they expect others to do.
Great leaders don't lead by pressure of fear, but they lead by the pressure of their example. Example puts pressure on followers to do what their leader is doing. You show me the pastor who not only tells the people to do right but leads by example, and I will show you the pastor who people will get behind and follow. Certainly, some leaders are great motivators that can get people to do things that the leader is unwilling to do, but their motivation eventually leads to frustration. People want to see the leader out front doing what they are telling others to do.
Parent, you can tell your children what to do, or you can show them what to do by example. Certainly, you should teach your children right and wrong, but you should lead by example by not doing the wrong and doing the right. You will do more to teach your children the right way to live by leading by example than you ever will by enforcing rules that you only expect them to follow.
Pastor, you will motivate your people to do right by your example more than you ever will by brow-beating the people from the pulpit. Yes, the preacher should be a strong preacher who motivates and admonishes from the pulpit, but the best way to get people to do what they should is to lead by example.
At the end of the day, the leader’s example is the only blueprint the follower has to follow on how to do what is right. Have you left a blueprint for your followers to follow? You will find that people will easily want to follow you if you lead by example.