Some of you may remember the well-known National Basketball star, Charles Barkley. In l983, Mr. Barkley made a commercial for Nike proclaiming that “I am not a role model.” He did go on to state that parents should be role models for their children, and that is true. However, it is true that many do look up to people famous in sports, music, business, and acting as individuals to pattern their lives after. Young people often are attracted to their heroes because of their notoriety, power, physical ability, or wealth. Opinions and advice from the well known can be interpreted by some as fact, even if the person is espousing things they have no knowledge of or worse yet, contrary to Biblical teaching.
But, what about us ordinary folk? You may think that no one is watching you for clues to how to pattern their lives, but think again. As we look back to our youth, didn’t you have someone you wanted to be like? A person who seemed to have it altogether. Did you ever express to that role model that you admired them, the choices they had made in their lives, their behavior and habits? Or did you just watch from afar and try to pick up actions that would endeavor to make you like them? If you were like me, you probably never mentioned to your “secret mentor” that you admired, respected, and wanted to plan your life like them.
If you were trying to follow the example of someone, guess what? Someone is more than likely watching you as a role model for their life. It may be someone you would never expect: a senior citizen, a newlywed you may not know well, a new Christian, a friend, or your own child. We may never know. Whether Charles Barkley wanted to be a role model or not, I’m sure he was to some. The same can be said of us. The Apostle Paul tell us in 1Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” At first glance I thought this to be a very puffed up statement on Paul’s part, but on closer inspection, we are instructed to be imitators of Paul only as he imitated Christ. That could also be true of us. We don’t want people to imitate us in our weakness, failures, or sin, but if we are truly imitating Christ, people can imitate us.
So, let’s make some sound choices that others can imitate. Here are a few things we might consider: Is your church attendance and participation what it should be? Are you using language that demonstrates your Christianity? Do you speak about the church and church members in a negative way, or are you always complaining about what goes on at church? If you are a Bible class teacher, are you well prepared to share the truths of God’s Word with others, or are you just winging it? Does the way you dress show your desire to be respectful, appropriate, and modest? Are you reaching out to others to show them Jesus? Are you studying your Bible and praying as you should?
It is true that we have a choice in the decisions we make, the way we act, the places we go, but we are also bound by the consequences of those decisions. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own decisions, but we never want anyone to imitate us in ways that could have negative eternal consequences. Let’s dedicate ourselves to being better imitators of Christ so others can imitate us.