(Scripture references as noted)
In one of my devotionals, the author talked about how you can sometimes see Little Leaguers step up to the plate with their little bat, swing it a couple of times, tap the dirt from their shoes and sometimes even spit. We know that it is unlikely that their coaches are teaching them to do that. They have either been to a lot of baseball games, or watched a lot of them on TV. They are imitating those that they admire and desire to be like.
How about the little girl playing house? She will have her baby doll that she will lovingly care for – feeding, rocking, changing a diaper, maybe even “disciplining.” She is very likely imitating what she has seen her Mom or other mothers do.
How about the teenagers that change their hair and clothing styles to look like their favorite actors or musicians, or even their friends? They are imitating what they view as the hip thing to do and be. Even mature adults will fall into this behavior, mimicking those they view as chic and sophisticated.
On the other hand, we are all aware of the news stories about people that are arrested and imprisoned for cruel and/or violent acts. Many times the background story about that individual will reveal that they came from a home where abuse was the norm. They merely imitated what they had lived – what they knew – what was familiar.
So regardless of positive or negative examples set before us, there can be a tendency for us to imitate what we are most exposed to and witness frequently. I do not believe that any of us could claim innocence in this – it is just human nature to imitate what we see and think is normal. Or, what we believe to be “cool”, “in”, “hip”.
For example, I will confess to something I am not particularly proud of. When I went to college, here I was this small town girl mixed in with a lot of big city girls. I do not believe that I acted like a total country bumpkin, but I have to admit that I was not nearly as sophisticated as many of the others. When I was growing up, both of my parents were smokers and I had always hated being around their cigarette smoke. But at college, there were almost all of the big city, sophisticated girls smoking. So, I decided that I should take up that habit. It was nasty and I did not enjoy it, but at least now, I was “cool.” I had chosen to imitate those that at least to an extent, I admired. (Thank goodness it was a habit that I did not continue for very long.)
As a parent, did you ever experience the situation when your child either did or said something inappropriate in front of others that embarrassed you? Then you realize they were only imitating what they had seen and heard from you and other adults in their life? Ooops!!
There is also that “keep up with the Jones’” thing. Some people will attempt to accumulate things – houses, cars, clothing, accessories and other material possessions – in order to imitate those that they admire, or so that they can at least be viewed by them as “cool.” People will sometimes literally go into debt to accomplish this goal of imitating someone they admire.
I believe that as humans, we also have the tendency to fall into the “herd syndrome” – where we blindly follow and imitate the crowd. Too much of the time we do not strive to be that unique individual that stands out for being different from the rest of the herd. We just go along to get along.
However, what we need to recognize is that we indeed are each unique. We really must get well acquainted with ourselves so that we can develop our strong traits and correct or do away with our weaker or less desirable traits. We should strive to stand out as that special person – that different person – that unique person that we were created to be.
I especially like the way The Message translation puts Ephesians 5:1-2: “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
So in those verses we are told to be imitators of God – especially the man Jesus. If only we could all just learn to emulate this perfect man so that we could exhibit love, forgiveness, kindness, generosity, patience, honesty, compassion, commitment, perseverance, gentleness, loyalty and be full of faith – all of the outstanding character traits He has. How excellent our lives would be! Then how impressive it would be if we could go forward from there and work to develop that unique self we are!
If you are not comfortable being in the spotlight, that is okay. You can still be impressive in the background. We cannot have a tribe where everyone is a chief. We need good and faithful followers to do what is required as well as strong leaders to guide us. Just work on being the best version of you that you can be.
Some additional scripture references to consider:
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” 3 John 11 (NIV)
“So chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:13-14 (The Message)
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 22-23a (Living Bible)
Written by Karran Martin – April 22, 2022