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Positive patterns

I mentioned last week an episode with one of my daughters that revealed the sarcastic culture of our home. I couldn’t fault her disrespectful repartee with her teacher. She was imitating what she had been modeled.

Fortunately imitation works the other way too. We can set positive patterns for others to follow. A couple weeks ago my oldest daughter needed to be at work around 6am. When I woke up she was already downstairs reading her Bible.

Jamie and I have never demanded devotional time from our kids. We’ve encouraged and coached them about the importance of it. But we have tried to not cross the line that would create resentment or a legalistic ritual. However, we have consistently displayed the practice in our own lives. Seeing Taylor imitating that practice was satisfying.

A life worth imitating

I think we should desire more imitation of our lives. That defines discipleship for me. Discipleship is a life shaped by Jesus worth imitating. That should be the goal. To be able to say of every area of our life imitate me.

To this point, multiple times Paul tells the recipients of his letters imitate me. To the church in Philippi he wrote, “Join with others in following my example, brothers and sisters, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Phil 3:17). To the church in Corinth he wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). To the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thes 1:5-6).

If our lives aren’t worth imitating, our work is in vain. There will always be a limit to our effectiveness if we aren’t working out of who we are–our actual life. We can teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.

Would you follow you?

If you were to inventory the main categories of your life, would you, like Paul, be able to say follow my example. Consider these areas of your life:

  • your faith
  • your family
  • your friendships
  • your finances
  • your fitness

Is there an area of your life that you couldn’t recommend others follow? If the true condition was known, would others want their life to look like that? You’re basically admitting, you would not follow you.

You may have heard the often abused aphorism, “If everyone were as [fill in the blank] as you, what would the world be like?” I think the line gets abused, though, because it cuts to the quick. It’s another angle of the Great Commandment.

A life shaped by Jesus worth imitating. That’s the goal.

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