Articles setting_an_example

Published on July 6th, 2015 | by Hannah Watters

3 (Practical) Steps To Setting An Example “For The Believers”

It is hard to have a Christ-like impact on a community that is already Christian.

As someone who has grown up on the mission field surrounded by seemingly spiritual giants, I know how much truth there is in this statement.

How do you be a godly example to godly people without seeming like you are being prideful, or are thinking yourself superior?

This is something I struggle with daily.

1 Timothy 4:12 tells us that we can and should set an example to believers. Whether they are kids or adults, missionaries or not, we can still shine as bright lights for Christ to the godly people around us.

These are three important steps that I think are necessary to take if we are going to set a godly example to other Christians:

1. Pray.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools that we as Christians are given. We can talk to God, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe any time we want and he listens to us, hears us, and answers us.

If you have a passion and a desire to see a spiritual revival in the Christian community around you, pray that God will give you the words to say and the courage to say them.

If you want to set an example for the missionaries you are surrounded by, pray for wisdom in what to do and the resolve to live it out.

2. Have a reputation of humility.

If every Christian acted perfectly Christ-like all the time, it wouldn’t even be necessary for us to set a Christ-like example to other Christians. However, I can tell you from personal experience that is not the case. We all fail.

Christians fail. Missionaries fail.

You fail. I fail.

Before we can set any sort of example for anyone, we have to recognize and admit our failure, not just to God, but to the people around us.

Mistakes of the past pave the way for humility in the future.

I’m not telling you to go to every bulletin board you can find and put up posters saying “PLEASE NOTE: I am being humble by admitting to the world that I fail!” That’s not humility either, but in fact another form of pride.

True humility is admitting not just when you’ve blatantly wronged someone, but even when they might not know that you’ve wronged them.

Things like gossip. The other person may never know you gossiped about them, but if you go and admit that to them and ask their forgiveness, that shows humility and maturity that won’t soon be forgotten.

3. Don’t compromise your standards.

If you have high standards, that’s a good thing. So often we see other Christians doing something that we don’t feel comfortable doing, yet we choose to do it anyways because, “Well, the missionary’s doing it, so it can’t be wrong.”

I’m not talking about things like getting drunk, addiction to drugs, or premarital sex. I hope and pray that we never compromise our standards on issues that are very clearly wrong by biblical standards.

I’m talking about things like how tight our jeans are, how much swearing we’ll tolerate in movies, or how much secular music we listen to. Each of us has our own personal standards on each of these issues. For someone to see you violating what they know are your personal standards shows them that either you don’t know or you don’t care about what you believe is wrong.

If you think it’s immodest to wear that shirt that your Christian friend thought was so cute even though the neck line dips pretty low, don’t wear it.

If you don’t like the message of a song that comes up on your MK friend’s iPod because it’s not biblical, politely ask them to skip the song.

If your youth group friends keep using a word that, while it’s not actually cursing, you still don’t feel comfortable using, don’t say it just because they are.

Honor your standards.

This isn’t meant to be a “Three Step Guide to a Better Life” type of thing. There are plenty of other tools out there to help you to set a godly example to believers, but prayer, humility, and personal standards are where you have to start.

You can’t start a spiritual revival without consulting God. You can’t glorify God by being prideful.

And you can’t set an example for what’s right if you don’t follow your own standards on biblical issues.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

There are currently 9 Comment(s)

Photo courtesy of lauren rushing and Flickr Creative Commons.


About the Author

is a 15-year-old who has been blessed to have the opportunity to spend a decade of her short life growing up on the mission field in Papua New Guinea. God has put in her heart a passion to serve the missionaries around her and she is excited to see where that passion will take her in life.

  • Zipporah

    That is such a great article!
    Regarding your article, I found very encouraging and convicting. I read in book once that one of the worst forms of pride is being proud about your humility. This article reminded me of that.
    Thanks tremendously!
    (I think it is so cool that you got the opportunity to live in Papua New Guinea)

    • Hannah

      Thanks! (And you’re welcome) I’m glad that God was able to use it to challenge you!

  • Jolie Simmonds

    Great article! I especially like the part about how we shouldn’t compromise our standards. I know that I often find it tempting to give way when I see another believer doing something that I’ve always felt is wrong. BTW, that’s so cool that your an MK, I was one too for ~7 yrs!

    • Hannah

      Thank you! I’m thankful that God was able to challenge you through the article. Keep standing strong on your values. (And I think it’s so cool that you’re an MK, too. I always love it when I can make that connection with someone 😉

  • D’Lorah Roberts

    The part where you talked about how powerful prayer can be is so true. in fact, it is something that my youth pastor has been talking about a lot. He said that “If nobody prays, then nothing will be done. But if a lot of people pray, then miricales will happen”. We need to be the people who pray.

    • Hannah

      Your youth pastor is 100% correct. Prayer is one of God’s amazing gifts to those who follow him and all too often we take it for granted. I’ve witnessed the incredible power of prayer and it often saddens me when others don’t see it. I’m glad God has challenged you in this area!

  • Leah

    Oh my… I do need to start living up to what I feel is right rather than what other Christians do. Thanks for your encouragement! Great advice :)

  • Haylie

    Thank you so very much for writing this, Hannah :) What you wrote under the “don’t compromise your standards” heading, hit my life like a bullet train. In a good way 😉 Thank you once again for this thoughtful article!

  • Emma

    Thank you so much for writing this, Hannah! This article has been convicting, and challenging. I really liked point number 1.At a camp I went to, the two pastors both said that if your not reading your Bible, and your just praying, then your prayers would be shallow. So this has encouraged me to not only pray, but to continue reading my Bible. Thanks so much for this article!

    • Hannah

      Your welcome! You’re definitely right that reading your Bible is a huge part of it as well! Prayer and Bible reading need to go hand-in-hand if we’re going to set an example!

  • tmselden

    While I respect your desire to live as an example of Christ, I am concerned that your view of standards need to be challenged. Due to my age and experiences in my walk, I have seen teaching from society and the church that promotes our view and standards as the authority.

    As a Christian, we are all called to purity and righteousness in our walks. That includes all of our thoughts, behaviors, and actions. We should never subscribe to our standards of living as the ultimate authority for our lives. Sadly, your generation has been fed this false belief that we can determine what is best for us and we can’t. I once was told by a young friend that if she wasn’t convicted yet about a certain behavior or sin that it was okay for her to participate in that behavior. She had set up her own standard.

    As a Christian, we are called to God and God’s standards alone. We must obey His Word at all costs. There are no individual standards for each person. This is how we stay separate from the world. God’s commandments that we love God first and then others means just that. When we come to be His, we lose every right to ourselves, our behavior, thoughts and actions. We stay away from any sort of behavior that is worldly. We must deny ourselves. We must always think of God first and our love for others should follow. We are called to give up anything that could cause our brothers to fall. True freedom only comes from Christ. Thinking that we have freedom to set up our own standards as a definition for Christianity has caused multitudes to fall. The parameters of God’s teaching are not fluid. We must stay within God’s boundaries or we put ourselves in danger and also others.

    As for witnessing to others. Your life speaks volumes. Stay in the Word, obey His commands, become a slave to Christ’s teachings, and never, ever knowingly compromise God’s Word. If all of this is done out of a heart of love for God and others, your words will have to be few.

    I pray the best for you. And He is the best for you.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    • Hannah

      Thank you so much for your insight on this issue of personal standards. However, I must clarify that when I say “Stay true to your standards” I am not saying that us as human beings can determine what is right or wrong. You are 100% correct in saying that we are called to God standards alone. God is the ultimate and only authority on what is right and wrong.

      What I was referring to in that section was issues such as modesty. God calls us to be modest in order that we, as you said, may not cause brothers to fall. That is the firm teaching of God. Each person must realize, based solely on the Word of God that modestly is an important issue. But within that, God the Word of God doesn’t specifically spell out what modesty looks like. Nowhere does God say, “Christians should not wear…”

      However, modesty should be a part of our lifestyle. As you said, our life speaks volumes. When I talk about personal standards, I’m talking about areas that the Lord has really shown us that we need to grow in. We all have different areas of our life in which we need to grow and mature. And when the Lord convicts us in these areas, we can’t be afraid to change aspects of our lifestyle. Even when we see other believers doing those things that we feel the Lord has convicted us about.

      So I guess when I spoke about personal standards, I wasn’t referring as much to our own guidelines as much as simple growth in different areas of our lives. I can see how what I wrote it didn’t accurately reflect that. Thank you so much for your valuable input. I see the point you have made and agree that it is important for us to realize in our lives that we don’t determine what is righteous in God’s sight. Only God can and he reveals that to us through his word.
      In Christ,

      • tmselden

        Thank you for your well written response. Bless you.

  • Great article with great points, Hannah!
    I’m curious about where you are in PNG, because I lived there for two years and loved it. My family was at Kompiam District Hospital in Enga. Where are you?

    • Hannah

      We live up in near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, so it’s a little ways away from there, but that’s so cool!

  • Christina

    Thank you so much for the article Hannah! The part about praying and listening to what God says was really powerful for me. I have been wanting a revival in my area and this is a practical step I can take! Perfect timing for this!

  • Sam G

    Thanks very much Hannah! I think humility is a very tricky issue because in attempting to build a “reputation of humility” we can actually be subtly building our own pride. True humility doesn’t desire recognition for being humble, but rather uses it as a means of deflecting the praise away from ourselves and onto God.

    Great article. I’ve got a long way to go with this… :)

  • Ezra Walls

    Thanks for this article, this is truly perfect timing. It is so much harder to influence my Christian circles without looking like I’m just trying to “top them” in holiness 😛 Thanks for these good tips. God bless!

  • Gabrielle

    Number three is absolutely dead on. I have a compromised myself in the little ways so many times, and I see so many of my Christian friends and peers compromise on things they/we know are wrong in general, or just not right for the individual.

  • Alyssa Hall

    Wow! This hit me right between the eyes. It’s so easy to compare one’s spiritual walk with those of the people around us and to congratulate ourselves on how much more humble (or learned, or theologically deep) we think we are than others. Thanks for this call to true humility that comes from spending time in God’s presence and in prayer. C. S. Lewis said that true humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It’s a tough thing to live out, but we have the Spirit working in us-we may be victorious! Keep up the great work Hannah and God bless you and your family!

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