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Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Cor. 11:1)
It sounds a little audacious of Paul to tell the church, “Do what I do.” Most of us know our own shortcomings, so we say “Do what I say, not what I do.” If people were to see how we lived our lives up close, we wouldn’t want them to imitate us.

Think about the life that you lead. We hear that phrase a lot: “Life you lead.” Usually, when we say that phrase, it means “the path life is taking us on,” or “the career we’ve chosen.” Not that we’re actually intentionally taking steps to live the life we intend to live. Most people have a big dissonance between what their intentions are and what their actions are. It makes us uncomfortable to even talk about that, because we feel guilty for not living up to our own standards.

Over and over again in books on leadership, you’ll find the very first step to being a good leader is learning to lead yourself. Rather than that being just a phrase, what if we were people who actually “led” ourselves?

Paul’s saying in this verse, “Follow me as I follow Christ. I’m trying to imitate him.” How are you leading your life? It’s easy to say “God leads me.” But I’m talking about intentionality, proactively thinking “How am I going to live my life?”

Leading yourself means giving thought to the steps you take, rather than just blasting through the day just doing whatever’s on your schedule. You’re not just letting the culture lead you, or friends lead you, or even appetites lead you. You’re leading life according to the kind of steps you want to take to become the person God wants you to be.
“Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” 
(Prov. 4:26)
Let me give you a couple of thoughts on how to “lead” your own life. Dee Hock, founder of Visa Card International said, “Control is not leadership. Management is not leadership. Leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.”

If you want to learn to lead, you must invest at least 50% of your time learning to lead yourself. If you don’t understand that you work for your subordinates, then you know nothing of leadership.
Ask yourself if you can say about yourself what Paul said. The fact is, too many of us live really haphazard lives. We leave our homes with good intentions, but not with plans to take intentional steps during our day.

Part of leading yourself is setting higher standards for yourself than what other people set for you. Whether it’s a job, your spouse, a friend, we’re not just living up to other people’s expectations. You’re not living at the expectation of what others set for your because you’re working to be more like Christ.

You’ve heard the saying, “Either you run the day, or it runs you.” People who let  the day run them are not leading their lives; they’re just making it through.

Ask yourself, how do you spend your time, particularly discretionary time? Really and truly, all of our time is discretionary because we choose how to spend it.

Think about this: The people who have invented how to go to the moon, they have the same hours in the day that you do. People who write incredible books have the same amount of time that you do. People who lead companies, who create industries, they have the same amount of hours in the day that you do.

So, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I thinking about how to spend my time intentionally, or am I just living by a schedule, out of obligation?” People who lead plan ahead with their time, deciding how much to allocate to get where they want to go.

I read about historical characters, people who were around before computers and Google, about how much they would read, and how much they would develop themselves, in a time when books and knowledge were more difficult to come by.  If you look at all the great people who shaped the world when it was harder to find books, and there was no way to know ahead of time if it was going to be a good book, they paid this price and used their time wisely.

We have so many time-saving things, yet it seems like we use less of our time wisely. We all have this same decision to make: How will I use my hours today?

There are different seasons of our lives that need different amounts of time investment. A single person budgets their time differently than a married person, or a person with kids.

You don’t ever want to hear your kids say, “You never spend time with me.” When my children were younger and still at home, I’d get home from work and turn everything off. We would not even answer the phone, because this was family time.

What kind of a person do you want to be? Ask yourself this. I ask myself this a lot. In the morning, when I’m having my quiet time, I ask, “What kind of man do I want to be?”

Scripture says about itself that it’s a mirror. How many of you read scripture and think, “Wow, I didn’t realize I was like that…”

What kind of person are you? What kind of person do you want to be? These are not easy questions to think about, but start praying about them. Start praying about the character traits you want to exemplify. It’s better to learn now than to find out 10 years later from other people what kind of person you “have been.”

Author John Foster said, “A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself . . . He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.”

How many times have we become captive of things that have caught our attention and then thought, “Wow, I just wasted my time!” How often do you go to the movies and afterward think, “That’s two hours I’ll never get back.”

Look in the mirror of scripture, think about what kind of person you want to be, and pray about it.

Ask yourself, “Am I emotionally intelligent?” Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to command your emotions and be aware of the emotions you’re expressing. Are you aware of people around you, and what they’re feeling as you express yourself? One thing you might think about is asking those you work around, “Do I ever give off a bad attitude?”

Finally, ask yourself, “Who chooses my thoughts?” Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks, so is he.”

You might believe you don’t have any control over your own thoughts. They just pop in there. But you choose what you focus on, what you dwell on. What you think about is what you become.

Are you being proactive about what you put in your mind, because they effect what you think about. For example, you listen to a song, you think about it. You go to a movie, you think about it. What you see, read, and hear, you think about those things.

We only have so many years on this earth, and then it’s over. How we choose to use our time, to lead our thought life, our emotional life, will end up being the fruit of our life.

Let’s strive to live a life that’s worth following, a one where we don’t have to ask people to follow us. They will want to follow us automatically, because of how we live.

Copyright © Teen Mania Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Ron Luce
Web site: Ron Luce
 
Ron Luce was the co-founder's and president of Teen Mania Ministries from 1986-2015. Ron and his wife Katie dreamed to raise up young people who would change the world.
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