Powerful visual example of how children mimic what they see us as adults and parents do. What a challenge to provide a model of virtue so that our influence is a positive one.
Paul was confident that others would do well to model after him:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
And he uses the same word to describe our using God himself as our model.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1)
So we are to practice imitating good role models. In his commentary on Ephesians, Dr. Harold Hoehner develops this thought exegetically for three pages. He points out that the believers should be imitators of him and that believers should imitate other believers. He summarizes that followers of Christ should be “gracious to one another as a reflection of Gods grace.” When we imitate worthy models, “the result will be harmony and growth to the body of Christ.”
It seems to me that imitation is the way we learn at the early stages of our development. Children imitate their parental role models that they love and trust; then they imitate other role models that might not be so worthy. Young Christians can learn a lot from older Christian models. This is why discipleship and mentoring are so important to the young church leader. I wish every young seminary graduate could sit under the tutelage of an experienced pastor for at least five years before taking on a senior leadership role. More personally, I would like to lead the kind of life that my children could imitate and grow into virtuous mature followers of Christ. Fortunately, they have all done a wonderful job of seeking out strong role models to learn from. I am very grateful to be called their dad.