Let me ask you, “Are you a role model?” This is a question that we all need to ask ourselves. The answer to that would be yes for everyone. A better question is “What kind of role model am I?” We know that everyone is a role model whether good or bad. I am sure that most of us would desire to be a good example to others. If that is so, we need to live out our faith being an example to those watching!
Most followers of Jesus struggle with seeing themselves as role a model. It is easy to justify avoiding this responsibility knowing that we are not perfect. Many hesitate because they believe they do not match up to the standard. The weakness in this way of thinking can actually restrain our resolve to grow in Christ. It can also become an excuse for spiritual laziness. Being a role model does require us to be intentional with our own spiritual development.
Paul’s instructions to local churches reminds us that we may be looking at being a role model in the wrong way. First, let me just state the obvious. We are all a role model of some kind. Our choices, what we choose to do and what we do not choose make a statement to others. The words that we speak and how we speak them makes an impression on others. Telling others to “Do as I say, not as I do!” is hypocritical. The whole of our lives influences those around us for good or bad. The bottom line is that you are a role model, whether you like it or not. You are touching the lives of numerous people each day.
Second, Paul encouraged the followers of Christ in Corinth to embrace Jesus’ example and the example of himself. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) The greatest challenge of following Paul’s instruction is that we have to embrace that others are influenced by us. The Apostle knew that he was not perfect. His encouragement is not to get it all together in our lives first. No, He is encouraging Jesus’ followers to live out their faith being an example for others to follow.
Third, in our desire to be a good example we strive for others to see us at our best. But the best example we can be involves letting them see the good and our response to the bad. Many times, our transparency of a Biblical response to failure also sets a good example. The danger from a lack of transparency is that it presents an unrealistic view of a genuine Christian life. While failure is not our desire, when dealt with Biblically, it is a powerful teacher in the lives of those watching.
The Apostle also encouraged the believes in the church at Philippi to be an example that leads others to a maturing relationship with Jesus. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17). What is keeping you from being one of those who “who walk according to the example you have in us?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson