Example Is Not Enough
There are a number of ways to explain the need for people to live in an accountable community. The human being naturally seeks convenience and the path of least resistance. That is why a covenant is necessary to increase the possibility that men and women will grow in relationship to Christ.
Pachomius was one of the first of the desert fathers to create a community. Several younger monks approached Pachomius to ask for instruction in the monastic way. Pachomius invited them to live with him so that he could teach them by example. So he duly did all the chores, prayed profoundly and served the needs of the new brothers. He thought that the new brothers would learn from his example and adopt his lifestyle. They were only too happy to let him do all the work, they even despised him for his timid ways and a lack of discipline. Pachomius realized that something had to change, so he gave them a clearly stated description of the way of life that he expected them to lead.
The covenant instructions went into the details of everyday life and it had a profound impact on the young men. By the time of Pachomius’ death, monastic life had established itself throughout Egypt, and was multiplied many times over.
The lesson is that a good example is not enough to change people’s attitudes and habits, or create in them what some call habitudes. Everyday church attendance is not enough to grow us. We can be moved and inspired by good example, but unless we intentionally choose to live a life of discipleship in community with accountability, it will not happen.