Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
One Sunday morning in 1865, a black man entered a fashionable church in Richmond,
Virginia. When Communion was served, he walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar. A
rustle of resentment swept the congregation. How dare he! After all, believers in that
church used the common cup. Suddenly a distinguished layman stood up, stepped forward to
the altar, and knelt beside the black man. With Robert E. Lee setting the example, the
rest of the congregation soon followed his lead.
Today in the Word, September, 1991, p. 15.
During the Nazi occupation of his country in WWII, King Christian X of
Denmark noticed a
Nazi flag flying over a Danish public building. He immediately called the German
commandant, demanding that the flag be taken down at once. The commandant refused.
"Then a soldier will go and take it down." said the king. "He will be
shot," threatened the commandant. "I think not," replied the king,
"for I shall be the soldier." Within minutes the flag was taken down.
the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 13.
A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they
reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree
the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.
For many years Monterey, a California coast town, was a pelican's paradise. As the
fishermen cleaned their fish, they flung the offal to the pelicans. The birds grew fat,
lazy, and contented. Eventually, however the offal was utilized, and there were no longer
snacks for the pelicans. When the change came the pelicans made no effort to fish for
themselves. They waited around and grew gaunt and thin. Many starved to death. They had
forgotten how to fish for themselves. The problem was solved by importing new pelicans
from the south, birds accustomed to foraging for themselves. They were placed among their
starving cousins, and the newcomers immediately started catching fish. Before long, the
hungry pelicans followed suit, and the famine was ended.
Bits & Pieces, June 23, 1994,
Bill Hybels related a story of integrity in Leadership Magazine. It illustrates proper
humility in a leader. One evening I stopped by the church just to encourage those who were
there rehearsing for the spring musical. I didn't intent to stay long, so I parked my car
next to the entrance. After a few minutes, I ran back to my car and drove home.
The next morning I found a note in my office mailbox. It read: A small thing, but
Tuesday night when you came to rehearsal, you parked in the "No Parking" area. A
reaction from one of my crew (who did not recognize you after you got out of your car)
was, "There's another jerk in the 'No Parking' area!" We try hard not to allow
people -- even workers -- to park anywhere other than the parking lots. I would appreciate
your cooperation, too. It was signed by a member of our maintenance staff.
(This man's) stock went up in my book because he had the courage to write to me about
what could have been a slippage in my character. And he was right on the mark. As I drove
up that night, I had thought, I shouldn't park here, but after all, I am the pastor. That
translates: "I'm an exception to the rules." But that employee wouldn't allow me
to sneak down the road labeled "I'm an exception." I'm not the exception to
church rules or any of God's rules. Exemplary conduct means encouraging others to imitate
us, even in the small matters.
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989,
I'm not much of a gardener. Once I took a seed catalog and started out the door.
"Where are you going with that?" my wife asked. "I'm going to show it to my
tomatoes," I explained.
A brief, simple, but expressive eulogy was pronounce by Martin Luther upon a pastor at
Zwickau in 1522 named Nicholas Haussmann. "What we preach, he lived," said the
I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk, but
they do shine.
When Gen. George C. Marshall took command of the Infantry School at Fort
he found the post in a generally run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for specific
improvements, he simply got out his own paintbrushes, lawn equipment, etc., and went to
work on his personal quarters. The other officers and men, first on his block, then
throughout the post, did the same thing, and Fort Benning was brightened up. Leadership by
To have unquestioned reliance upon a pastor or other spiritual leader can lead to
embarrassment and even bitter disillusionment. I was reminded of this recently when I came
across an interesting item about President Coolidge. Once he invited some friends from
Vermont to dine at the White House. They were worried about their table manners, so they
decided to do everything their host did. All went well until coffee was served. Coolidge
poured his into the saucer. The guests did the same. The President added sugar and cream.
So did the visitors. Then Coolidge leaned over and placed his saucer on the floor for the
Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography
of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad
light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As
the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor's saintly
character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned
task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside
his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. Whether we
realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others.
When I was a small boy, I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian
bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the
most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn,
frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates
for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the
Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of
Chicago. One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing
looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to
Al Capone. In the prohibition years, Capone's rule was absolute. The local and state
police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But
single handedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christina layman and without any government support,
organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens who were determined to take
Mr. Capone to court and put him away. During the months that the Crime
Frank Loesch's life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family
and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was the
instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his
life to live out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the service, my father, a Chicago
businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with
pride. Sometime I'd catch a tear in my father's eye. For my dad and for all of us this was
and is what authentic living is all about.
Bruce Larson, in Charles Swindoll, Living Above
the Level of Mediocrity, p.124-5.
Statistics and Stuff
Percentage of American teens who say they want to be like their parents: 39%.
Charis Conn, Ed., What Counts: The Complete Harper's
Children who see physical violence between their parents are six times more likely to
abuse their own spouses after they marry. If those children were also hit by their parents
as teenagers, they are 12 times more likely to abuse their spouses.
Bottom Line, in Homemade, November, 1985.
A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their
children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither
attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves--the
example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church and
Warren Mueller in Homemade, May, 1990.