Weekly Devotional: Leading by Example

By Josh Sugata

Two people holding hands under a weekly devotional banner

Psalm 121:1-2, Philippians 2, John 3:30, Matt 20:16, 1 Peter 4:8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

When it comes to the generality of friendships, I often think of the phrase: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

However, when it comes to romantic relationships, the phrase “opposites attract” always seems to surface.

I can honestly say that I never had a conversation with any of my college buddies stating that I was disappointed with how they were leading me. Fast-forward years later, and it’s a conversation that my wife and I revisit on a regular basis.

Leading can sometimes involve asking what she would prefer the family to do for dinner, even if it means going out when we didn’t plan for it. Other nights, it involves me scrounging through the kitchen cabinets attempting to throw something together with our daughter’s help, just so mommy can have some alone time. There are countless other examples that I could use when it comes to cleaning, finances and even romance.

Any time this question surfaces outside of marriage, I usually hear it tied to physical boundaries within a relationship.

However, much of the biblical instruction on this topic comes from the marriage perspective, which is why I was very excited to see the most recent discussion between Pastor Tim Griffin and Dean of Theology Dr. Jason Hiles on Trending Faith.

I also wanted an opportunity to gain another perspective on this same topic, so I reached out to Jaci Curran in the Office of Spiritual Life.  Here is what she had to say:

When I first moved to Phoenix, it was important for me to find a church to call home. One Sunday, I found myself eating lunch in the church cafe following service. The people were nice, the food was decent and the sermon was average.

What stuck out to me the most was what happened right after lunch. As I finished eating, I saw the lead pastor of this particular church, the guy who I just heard speak, the founder, the one I should be serving, heading towards my table. He gave me a friendly smile and cleared away all of the trash on my table, quickly wiping it down. In that moment, I learned the most valuable leadership lesson: a true leader is the example and not the exception.

Whether it’s at work, in a relationship, in marriage or in the random facets of our everyday life, the leader is to set the example and shouldn’t expect to be the exception.

As the exception, we make excuses. As the exception, we grow tired and lazy. As the exception, we have the right to pick and choose moments of integrity. As the exception, we place ourselves and our agendas before the people around us.

Philippians 2 is a beautiful depiction of the way Jesus calls us to model humility in the same way He did. If anyone “earned” the right to be put on a pedestal, it was Jesus. Yet, verse 7 points out “He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”

Jesus’ example of leadership was demonstrated through humility and a servant attitude. These two attributes are at the core of living out the Greatest Commandments and can be one of the most challenging things to translate over into dating relationships.

We all want to protect ourselves, defend our actions, be known and be valued. If we’re not careful, we quickly make it all about us and what we view as proper leadership according to the world’s standards. Being the example, instead of the exception, means being like Jesus.

Being like Jesus means pushing the ‘me’ to the side (John 3:30). Being like Jesus means being last and not first (Matt 20:16). Being like Jesus means we love sacrificially above all else (1 Peter 4:8).

It’s interesting to think about what our relationship with a significant other would look like if we could just be a little bit more like Him and a little less like us. Jesus’ example pushes us to always work for the best of others, even if that may mean a hard choice has to be made. Jesus was willing to give His life for the world. Are you willing to put yourself aside to see another person thrive?

Go and be more like Jesus.

The best way to lead in any relationship is by example. Where we find our examples will largely affect the type of leader we are in the relationship.

Service, sacrifice and submission flow throughout the Bible. Hopefully, those we choose to mimic and “flock with” are biblically minded and not afraid to ruffle feathers when it comes to speaking truth.

To hear more about this topic, email TrendingFaith@gcu.edu. Learn more about Spiritual Life at GCU from University Pastor Tim Griffin.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.