When I had When I was a child, I loved to watch the Lone Ranger (I am dating myself). As soon as the show was over I was shooting my plastic guns and riding my imaginary white stallion yelling “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” When I had just turned 9, it was Luke Skywalker and the whole STAR WARS thing. I ran around with my lightsaber saving planet Earth from Darth Vader and his Storm-troopers! I saw STAR WARS 28 times at the theater in 1977 when it came out! I was only eight when the first Rocky came out so I was not interested in it, but when I was 11, Rocky 2 came out and I got into the Rocky Balboa craze. When Rocky IV came out in 1985, I was hooked!.I believed I was the champ himself! I went through a number of action heroes that I wanted to be like including Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. But ultimately, I would learn to imitate Jesus Christ in order to become a godly man, a wise husband and father to three wonderful boys who I encourage daily to imitate me.
Paul was not shy about encouraging the Corinthians to be imitators of him. Later in this same book (1 Corinthians 11:1), Paul would expand on this thought as he encouraged the Corinthians to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul was not exalting himself but merely stating that he purposefully led his life in such a way that others could imitate him in following Christ.
As fathers, this must be our goal as well. We must lead lives worth imitating and then encourage our kids to do just that. Could you tell your kids right now to imitate you? Would you even feel good about having your kids imitate you? Want it or not, they will imitate you because kids will learn what they live. If a father insists that his child does not lie then turns around and cheats on his income taxes, his children will not learn from his father’s words but by his actions.
Setting an example includes two distinct aspects. First, we must aspire to live a Godly life worthy of following so we can be Effective Dads. We have to set the tone and example for our family. In order to do this, we must rely on the power and providence of God. Secondly, we must accept that, this side of heaven, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and it is important that we be willing to admit those mistakes to our kids.
We should not be under any delusion that our kids think we are perfect in the first place.
After about the age of 7 or 8, that phase of life is long gone. Our kids know that we are far from perfect. We must be honest with them and talk about our mistakes. This transparency teaches them that it is OK to make mistakes. The important thing is how we handle those mistakes. We model for them honesty, transparency, and taking our sins to the cross of Christ. We also give our kids a chance to learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, to avoid them.
So I ask one more time. Would you encourage your kids to imitate you? Would you want them doing the things that you do? What about those things you do when they are not looking? Please comment on this so other dads can be encouraged.
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