I am blessed as a (relatively) young Christian to know many other mature, time-proven believers whom I can look to for guidance and an example of how to live the Christian life. Indeed, I can honestly say that I have many role models. And yet, all the Christians I know are imperfect. They are sinners who sometimes make mistakes. I only have one perfect role model, and that is Jesus Christ.
It is still beneficial, however, for me to have other role models in addition to Christ, because I did not have the opportunity to get to know Christ face to face when He lived on Earth 2,000 years ago. It is sometimes difficult for me to imagine exactly what it looks like to have Christ-like love. But fortunately, God has provided me with many examples of other Christians with varying degrees of Christ-likeness. I can look at their successes, and see Christ in them. None of them are able to have any spiritual success on their own; the good they have accomplished is Christ working in them.
The Apostle Paul, when he walked on Earth, was able to provide an example to younger Christians about how Christ lived:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1 NIV)
Paul encouraged the new believers at Corinth to follow his example, but only in so far as he followed the example of Christ. They were not supposed to follow his example when he sinned or behaved selfishly. There are many greatly Christians today who can provide an example for how we are to live, but we should only follow their example in so far as they are following the example of Christ. We are not supposed to follow their example in everything, because they are not perfect people. We need to be constantly reading our Bible and comparing their actions to the actions of Christ, and we should imitate their actions wherever they match up with Christ.