We are called to do all that we do to the Glory of God. Paul is only imitating Christ and not gloating in his glory. We are to be followers and examples first and foremost over all else and to never gloat about the praise we may receive. Remember one of the main aspects of love is that does not seek its own. Leadership cannot effectively transpire unless we as leaders are the followers of the Lord. You can call this the "prime directive," the point and focus that all the other leadership characteristics follow. This is the horse that pulls the cart of leadership.
You cannot lead where you have not been. Unless the leader is a good follower of the Lord and submitted to one another and of the aspects of leadership themselves, they cannot lead effectively. We cannot do the work of our Lord unless we are followers of our Lord. We may try it with all of our best efforts, but all we will do is spin our wheels in the wrong direction.
Setting goals in our daily situations can be a challenge for some and anticipation by others. Goals need to have a plan and target to strive for as well as a strategy to implement. Any good goal will have an example behind it as a template to follow. And the results of the goal will lead to an assortment of possibilities as determined by the strategy and effort put into it. And remember results and outcome are the work of the Holy Spirit. Goals give the sense of direction to go for as with vision, but goals follow the lead of the strategy and plan. Our strategy and plan is Christ our Lord and His call for us. We cannot dream or wish our expectations into the call of the Lord, we need to stay on track one step at a time, following the lead of our Lord.
Focus is the essential element of the martial arts, and is the difference that makes one professional sports team beat another. The goal for most sports' endeavors is to place the ball into the cup, over the fence, pass the goal line, into a hoop, in a glove, into the net, or over the net. The professional athlete must know their abilities and strategy for the objective to be achieved. All their effort, planning, and challenge is to press on to the goal. The athlete has spent most of his life in preparation for the reward of the game. The leader must also be in preparation as in modeling the path that Christ showed him. A professional baseball player came to my Bible study while I was in seminary and told me something that I will never forget. He said when you get to the level of professional sports, regardless of position or team, you are at a level that there is literally no significant difference in physical ability and mental knowledge of the game. So I asked how does one team beat another. He said it is mostly mental and psychological. The ability to be confident in their ability at the same time as with their teams. To be able to be a team that is willing to sacrifice their personal lime light for another on their team; to be a follower and not always a leader. The LA Lakers in the late 90's had and has the best players that basketball money can buy, yet I used to watch them lose a lot. I'm no sport's expert, but I can observe the key players in competition with each other and what my baseball friend said all played out in front of me. The Lakers did not have the focus to win, even though they had the ability. So some insignificant team, I had never heard of before, beat them. In the church, we have to have the right focus, and that focus is to always be willing to follow before you are willing to lead! The Lakers had to learn this lesson too, and when they finally did, they went all the way in 2000!
The focus is to adhere to the teachings and example of our Lord. Our love relationship with Christ is the template to our leadership plan. We are making disciples in Christ's image and not our image. I was shocked at an early time in my ministry to hear the elder at my church say it was his job to make disciples of himself and not the Lord. His view was to create images of him, and this was discipleship. Too many people in Christian leadership may not agree with this view, but they sure will behave as if they do. For us to be effective leaders, we must be effective disciples and disciplers. Creating a disciple is to help someone form in the image and character of Christ, not ourselves.
Following Christ is not an option to the Christian leader; it is clearly a command that we must adhere to. Following is not an option, it is a lifestyle. Out of following will come discipling that moves us from ourselves to prayer and passion to His service. The leader then will see the lifestyle change in the people they effect, as an expression of Christ's character. When the people we effect are effecting others themselves, then we have reached the goal and placed the ball where it is supposed to be.
If we wait to give God our lives and be His followers at the end of our life, then we are savoring the choice part of the steak for ourselves and giving God the trim we cut off. It is like giving God an old stained T-shirt and saying this is our best garment, instead of giving Him a new one as a gift. If we refuse to give God our choice time and effort, we end up cheating God and ourselves. Then we are not true followers, and when we are not following, we are not leading.