More than once, the Apostle Paul told the audience of his letters to "imitate him."
The first time this happens is in 1 Corinthians 4:16 when Paul writes, "I urge you, then, be imitators of me." Later in the same letter Paul gives a similar charge: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Later in the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul shares the same sentiment, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us" (Philippians 3:17).
I believe that living a life worthy of imitation is one of the most important roles that a ministry leader holds. In fact, modeling stands out above leadership, good preaching, pastoral care, and savvy organization.
Because if a ministry leader is not modeling what it means to live a Godly life, than all of their efforts in these other areas will be for not.
We live in a culture that is highly perceptive of the consistency of a person's words as it relates to their actions. Let's face it, when it comes to the church, unfortunately many people have had less than favorable experience with those who carried the title "pastor."
Many ministry leaders have failed to live out the values and the Gospel-life that they preached.
This has led to an increase in skepticism and suspicion. People have little interest in the words we speak if they do not see that they align with the life that we live.
In no way does this mean that our life is going to be perfect and free from error! Even Paul would not have proclaimed that he had "arrived" at some sort of earthly perfection.
But what it does mean is that the regular pattern of our life must be consistent with the message we speak. We are Christ-followers, and our life should be ever increasing in looking like his - from the inside out.
Will be fail along the way? Yes! But may we be the first to confess it and correct it.
Living a life worthy of imitation requires consistent obedience and humility.
Eugene Peterson calls this a long obedience in the same direction. It is a steady plodding, day after day, month after month, year after year. It is a steady life of trusting Jesus, growing in Jesus, obeying Jesus, repenting of sin, loving others, and submitting to the Holy Spirit It is not flashy, but it is genuine.
A life worthy of imitation is the call of every Christ-follower, but it is even more so for those who are ministry leaders in the church.
Are you living your life in a way that others can look to as a model for godliness? Is there a gap between what you proclaim and the way live? Is your spiritual life marked by consistency or haphazardness?
Let us examine our lives in honesty and make the changes needed to move forward.
May we become people who live lives worthy of imitation for the good of the church, the glory of God, and the sake of the world.