Having role models is important. We should all have people we look up to, aspire to be like, and imitate. Paul took this truth seriously. Paul even commands us to follow his example. He says in 1 Cor 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” The rationale here is that Paul’s life reflects Christ’s. If we want to follow Christ (which we should), we would do well to follow Paul’s example. He should be a role model for us.
As we aspire to be like others, I want us to remember that all of us have a unique identity that we do not share with others. That is, in imitation, in modeling our lives after other, we mustn’t seek to be a clone of someone else. God has given us “gifts that differ [from each other] according to the grace given to us” (Rom 12:6). We are not all the same. We are different. Those differences must be held onto as we model our lives after others.
Out of all people, Matthew McConaughey, the actor, taught me this. In an Oscar acceptance speech, he mentioned that his hero was himself in ten years. Every ten years, when he arrived at his “hero,” he would say his hero was still himself, ten years away. There is much wisdom in this approach.
Our role model should be ourselves with the grace of God completed in us. It should be us with Christ fully formed in us. That’s who we should strive to be. Imitate other godly people? Yes! But hold on to your individuality. Be the person God made you to be, not the person God made someone else to be.