There is this interesting dynamic that occurs in nature. The dynamic of “imprinting” suggests that what we model as leaders is what people will emulate.
Imprinting, in psychobiology, a form of learning in which a very young animal fixes its attention on the first object with which it has visual, auditory, or tactile experience and thereafter follows that object. In nature the object is almost invariably a parent; in experiments, other animals and inanimate objects have been used. Imprinting has been intensively studied only in birds, especially chickens, ducks, and geese, but a comparable form of learning apparently occurs in the young of many mammals and some fishes and insects.
See Britannica article
In parenting this is certainly the case.
When it comes to ministry and more specifically, leadership, I suggest that what we do is more important than what we say. Let’s unpack this a bit more…
- When new Christians come to faith, it is important that they “imprint” upon the Lord for protection, sustenance, and training in how to be a Christ follower. (Neil Cole)
- When modeling the practices of spiritual growth and maturity, the spiritual leader transfers those behaviors, both positive and negative, to the maturing disciple.
- When leading, the leader intentionally and unintentionally communicates what is important, like developing people, leaders who take people development seriously prioritize this behavior.
In ministry this is certainly the case.
- FIRST, the importance of small group ministry.
- SECOND, the importance of leadership development.
- THIRD, the importance of being on mission
It is hard to get around this fact – People do what people see!
5 questions to discern the mission-critical activities you want to model
- What mission critical behaviors are you modeling for the leaders you are developing?
- What activities can you delegate to others that are non-essential for you to do yourself?
- What activities can you stop doing altogether that will make room for more mission critical activities?
- What mission critical behaviors do you need to do more of?
- How and when are you going to implement this change?