I do not know if there is a science to imitation; however, I know it is something we start at a very young age. Through imitation we learn to complete tasks and process through the activities of life. The following are just a few examples:
- Little girls parent and discipline baby dolls the way they have been parented and disciplined
- Children play school and model their teaching off of their teacher’s instruction methods at school
- Children begin to say phrases and act like the characters on the TV shows they watch
- Children learn to eat the foods they see their parents eating. This is why I did not eat many vegetables until I was in college. Thanks Mom!!
Even though I have used childhood examples, imitation continues into adulthood. Since coming to be the Girls’ Minister at First West, I have seen how the girls imitate me. Good and bad, shallow and holy.
- I grew up with the nickname “Boo Boo” from my Dad. So the word “boo” is heavy in my vocabulary: “Thanks boo”, “Hey boo”, “Will you get that for me, boo”… I have seen this carry into our girls’ vocabulary as well.
- Three girls came up to me the other day to show me they each bought the same purse as me. (Shallow, but it still proves my point)
- I got extremely aggravated in front of one of the girls I disciple, and the next week she exhibited the same aggravated manner and reaction to a situation in her own life. (I am embarrassed to admit this- but this is real life, people. Grace.)
The place I have seen imitation rear its nasty head is in individuals living out their callings. It seems we like “the look” of other people’s callings more than our own. We look at the life God has called them to and it seems more glamorous, valuable, and influential. We forget who God has called and made us to be, and we try to imitate someone were not. We do see scripture (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Corinthians 4:16-17, Philippians 3:17, Hebrews 6:12) calls us to imitate believers who are imitating Christ. These verses do not call us to imitate other believer’s callings; they encourage us to imitate how they live out their purpose. You imitate their steadfastness, perseverance, endurance, and their character as they take up their cross and follow Jesus. God knew what He was doing when He gifted us in a variety of ways. We have a lot of people He has called us to minister to; it takes all of us—all of our communication methods, all of our gifts, all of our testimonies, and all of our platforms.
As we know, imitation can be good, bad, or extremely ugly. But, it is necessary in our walk with Christ. We are called to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 2:6, Philippians 2:5-8, Colossians 3:12-13, Ephesians 4:32). The life we lead should be a sure reflection of the life He lived—a life of surrender, love, endurance, perseverance, hope, purpose, joy, sacrifice, peace, humility, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and justice. He fought for the oppressed, loved the lonely, ate dinner with the sinners, provided water for the thirsty, and gave whole-heartedly. Imitation of Christ is a beautiful thing, and it is the only thing we bring to the table when we disciple others. To imitate Him, we must know Him. To know Him we must seek His face. Open your scripture—get to know Him.