You are still following the ways of the world. Some of you are jealous. Some of you argue. So aren't you following the ways of the world? Aren't you acting like ordinary human beings?
One of you says, "I follow Paul." Another says, "I follow Apollos." Aren't you acting like ordinary human beings?
After all, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? We are only people who serve. We helped you to believe. The Lord has given each of us our own work to do. I planted the seed. Apollos watered it. But God made it grow.
So the one who plants is not important. The one who waters is not important. It is God who makes things grow. He is the One who is important. (1 Cor 3:3-7 NIRV)
Discipleship isn’t about mimicking others, but following the example of those who follow Jesus.
If a person’s example doesn’t match that of the Lord, then don’t follow it or them. But if it does, it’s the wise path. This is how the Lord Jesus trained His disciples to be disciple-makers.
How do we know if it's the right example and path? We need both discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit that lines up with the truth of God's Word (1 Cor 2:12-14).
No spiritual leader, pastor, or teacher has all the answers, and no denomination or church has a corner on the truth. We are called to follow Jesus, not personalities or policies or pet theologies.
When imitation isn't mimicry
Those of us who disciple and lead others need to be careful with our life example. It's not "do as I say," but do as I do. Follow my example as far as it imitates Jesus.
This is what Paul meant when he said, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1) [also see 1 Cor 11:1 NIRV]
As James the half-brother of Jesus reminds us, there's much greater accountability for we who are teachers and leaders of others (James 3:1).
Looking ahead to a new year is a good time to consider where you've been and where you're heading. It's an opportunity to move forward into an abundant life that honors the Lord and blesses others.
Consider also—who are you following and who are you leading? Our life as followers of Jesus isn't to be lived in isolation but in relationship with others.
We were originally designed to live in community—in relationship with God and others (Gen 1:27; 2:18). This is the simple example of the early church (Acts 2:42-44).
Each of us need to find our place within the Body of Christ, the church, in a local sense, and in a practical, relational sense (Eph 4:11-16).
Ways to move forward
Find your place in the Body of Christ in a local community (if you haven't already)
Build relationships with others within that community and with those in the community where you live and work
Seek out those whom you can trust to disciple and equip you (as mentors) and be alert to those the Lord puts in your life whom you can disciple
Be inclusive, not exclusive—the Body of Christ extends across and beyond language, borders, cultures, roles, and status—we are to follow Jesus together as one community (body) of believers
May you and I be a blessing to others for a truly blessed New Year!