Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
Observation: A “guardian” in the ancient Roman Empire was a servant of a wealthy family that accompanied young boys in their training and education. For a guardian to rebuke the child in their charge, as Paul had done in his letter to the Corinthian Christians, would not have been acceptable because the guardian is still a servant. Yet Paul is not functioning as a guardian, but as a father. A father loves his children dearly, would give his life for them, but is expected to rebuke his children when necessary. To do otherwise would be a dereliction of duty. In the case of a boy, a son would not just learn from his father, as from a guardian, but would seek to become like his father. To imitate him.
Application: Paul formed leaders mostly by inviting them to imitate him. V.17 tells us he sent Timothy to the people of Corinth to remind them of what his own life looked like – because, after years of following Paul, Timothy had become very much like Paul. One of the key dimensions of being a discipling leader is leading by example. The question I’m wrestling with this morning is, “Do I have a life worth imitating?” In some ways yes, in some ways no. I’m a mixed bag for sure.
If you’re a leader, whether a spiritual leader or some other form of leader, people are following you. Imitating you. Whether you want them to or not. What are you offering people to imitate? It’s a sobering question isn’t it? This morning I’m very aware of the places where I need to grow so that others can learn from me.
Prayer: God, there’s no getting around it. When we lead people at home, work, school, church, they will seek to imitate us at some level. This morning I’m very aware of my rough edges, which are many. I certainly don’t view myself as someone worth imitating much of the time. However this morning you’re reminding me, and those reading the blog today, that we don’t have to be perfect. Give us grace to trust that you step into the gaps when we fall short. You will use us to build up others, even in our weakness. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.