"Be thou an example of the believers"
I Timothy 4:l2
First and foremost, this is an admonition to those who lead the people of God, pastors, elders, deacons and teachers in the church. If we would lead others and expect them to follow us, we must win their confidence, not by our words, but by the example we set before them. Words are cheap. People pay little attention to them, unless they are enforced by example. The apostle exhorted the Hebrew believers to "Remember them which have the rule over you whose faith (faithfulness) follow." But if those who rule the people are not faithful men, how can we expect faithfulness among those who follow. Every pastor ought to be able to honestly call upon his congregation, saying, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." If I cannot do so, I have no right to instruct you. I cannot honestly call upon you to be generous, thoughtful, faithful, hospitable, loving, dedicated, committed and dependable, if I do not exemplify these characteristics before you. In fact, I have been your pastor long enough now that, if these things were not evident in you who believe, I would have to bear the blame. Seldom do men and women rise above their leaders. They only reflect them. For the most part, faithful congregations are a reflection of many years of faithful leadership; and half-hearted, unstable congregations are a reflection of half-hearted, unstable leadership.
This is also an admonition to believers in general.It is the responsibility of all who profess faith in Christ to exemplify that faith by their faithfulness to Christ, the gospel of his grace and the church of God. Everytime I baptize a new believer, I say to him, "In baptism you not only are confessing the gospel symbollically, but you are professing to the church and the world your allegiance to Christ. See that you demonstrate that professed allegiance by your constant faithfulness." Remember, child of God, there is somebody who watches you and is influenced by your example. There are weaker brethren and younger believers, whose behavior will, in measure, be determined by your example. Be sure you set before them a proper example of faith and faithfulness, love and kindness, virtue and dependability, devotion and commitment. Do not just tell them how to live for Christ and what to do for him - SHOW THEM BY EXAMPLE!