The problem with leading by example is that some people seem too self-absorbed to notice. And they apparently would rather be entertained. They lack maturity to consider first the perspectives of others, choosing instead to advocate their own needs, and their own wants. They want leaders who will cause their hearts to soar at the promise of fulfillment without sacrifice, rather than leaders who are unassuming and self-sacrificing.
This is not to say we should not lead by example. It simply means that we should not be surprised if it does not reap apparent benefits through influencing specific lives for years, even a lifetime. But don’t lose hope. They are watching when you are not aware of it.
Over time, they begin to see the way you graciously endure a chewing out by two bickering sets of parents. They grow alert to the fruit of your labor in their own children as the kids consistently exhibit excitement about Jesus on account of your efforts. They notice how you pitch in to do the thankless jobs around the church facility. You know, emptying garbage, mopping and vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, and the like. They begin to realize that the years have rolled by, and you continue to lead, and grow, and press in with passion for the children and their families.
And something begins to click in a few of them, though sadly not all. They recognize your example for what it is: the life of Jesus living through you, loving them even when they did not always love you. It takes time. Endure for Jesus’ sake. You may be surprised who will thank you years from now for the things you did, big and small, and the way in which you did them.