I teach ninth grade English, and I am often reminded that my students watch what I am saying and doing constantly—probably even more so when I am not teaching a lesson about grammar or literature.
Recently, I was chatting with a teacher and a former student in the hallway between classes, and somehow the topic of spending money on things we enjoy came up. I mentioned nice dinners, and my student finished my list for me, naming cupcakes with orange frosting. (I’m a sweet-eater and a Tennessee V-O-L-S fan.) My teacher friend looked at me and said, “Look how observant our students are!” I teach English, but this conversation reminded me that my students are learning more than that – for better or for worse. (I sure hope it’s for the better!)
Leaders do not often ask—and sometimes do not even want—to be role models. But, like it or not, leadership positions entail this responsibility. NFL football players are a good example. These guys aspire to play the game on a national level, but fans of all ages watch their sportsmanlike conduct on and off the field. Financial analysts crunch numbers in a cubicle, but their coworkers notice the choices they make at office get-togethers. Church leaders teach weekly Bible lessons, but their students also listen to their words, see their actions, and – you guessed it – read their social media posts, too. No matter the leadership role you may find yourself in, it is important to recognize the not-so-obvious effect you may have on those that you lead.
I believe some of the best leaders are those that do not demand attention or are not in prominent leadership roles. Though your job or volunteer opportunity may not be labeled with a leadership tag, you may have more influence than you know. Paul said in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In what we say and what we do we are to glorify God. Talk about a responsibility!
Bob Russell, a minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote in a blog post a few years go, “We desperately need positive, courageous role models.” How true! Sometimes we falter and mess up, but God is the ultimate Redeemer who gives us the courage to press on. Most importantly, be encouraged that you have been given the role of model. And let us be thankful for the One who modeled for us.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
Rebecca Lee Curry is an easily excitable twenty-something Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN) grad. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching and a Master of Arts in English. Rebecca resides in middle Tennessee, where she writes and teaches English. Find her Instagram or Twitter @rebeccaleecurry.