Follow the Leader

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

As a kid, do you remember playing follow the leader? It’s a really simple game . . . First a leader is chosen, then all the other kids line up behind that leader. The leader is then supposed to move around and do all sorts of craziness and interesting stuff, while the other kids have to imitate him or her. 

The key to winning this game is to imitate the person at the head of the line. Success is defined as following the example and mimicking the actions and words of the leader. When I read today’s verse, I see the apostle Paul basically telling the Corinthians to play a game of follow the leader where he is their leader. He is instructing them to imitate his movements, his words, his deeds, and his attitudes. The word used in the Greek is mimētai, which means “the positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation, i.e. a mentor setting a proper example.” This word is used seven times in the New Testament, always regarding the followers of Christ mimicking a God-approved example. 

So, Paul is inviting the Christ-followers at Corinth to imitate him. So, for us today, while we don’t have Paul alive to see his example lived out, we do have the pattern he set available to us in Acts and the Epistles. We also have the ability to observe those who walk according to it. How do we know who to observe? How do we know who to imitate? It’s the second part of today’s verse!

The apostle invited us to imitate him “as I follow the example of Christ.” That’s the essential to this whole thing. Jesus is the true example. His pattern is the ultimate pattern we’re to model our entire lives after. In Ephesians 5:1 (NLT), Paul tells us “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Just as my son copies me and tries to be just like me, this is how we are to be with the Lord. 

As we are looking to be conformed into the image of Christ as His disciples, we need to consistently be in His Word and in prayer to know what it means to live, think, love, and act like Jesus, and we need to seek out those who are living out this pattern, our older brothers and sisters in the faith who have been walking with Dad longer, and imitate them. This is part of becoming a disciple!

DIG: How can we follow Paul’s example today? How can we follow Christ’s example?

DISCOVER: Who in your life have you seen do this successfully? What sets them apart?  

DO: Spend time in the Scriptures studying the life and examples of Paul. See how he went about living his faith and how he honored and loved the Lord.    

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.