WHEN I GROW UP“…”
READ: I Corinthians 4: 10-17
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. …” Titus 1: 16a (NIV)
One question well-meaning adults often ask a child is, “What do you plan to be when you grow up?” Children learn to give a socially acceptable answer. However, unfortunately their replies are reinforced numerous times in their growing-up phase. Parents can be frequently be heard remarking, “Did I tell you that Susie plans to be a --------- when she grows up?” Her ‘choice’ is usually received with enthusiastic praise. This type of reinforcement by parents and significant others often result in a young person embarking on training for a profession for which he/she might not be well suited. I don’t know how many college juniors and seniors have expressed their dismay to me concerning their ‘choice’ of a particular career and when they are exposed to some of the realities connected with the profession and discover that they are less than enthusiastic about it.
I wonder if the same phenomenon happens to believers when they decide to be like ‘Jesus”. I, personally, have found that although with the help of the Holy Spirit I can adequately reflect Him in some areas of my life but in other realms I experience limited success. When we confess our shortcomings to fellow believers, we are sometimes counseled that what is needed is a greater degree of commitment on our part. I wonder if such advice, although well meaning, really proves to be a significant factor in our spiritual development. We do need commitment; but perhaps a more pressing need would to be locating another believer who most clearly models the trait in which we feel lacking and try to identify those behaviors that clearly express the desired attribute.
A bit of reflection on one’s various colleagues should aid in developing a suitable role model for us regardless of our level of Christian maturity. For example, I consider a fellow believer of mine who seems to genuinely love others and always seems to have time for everyone a good role model for me. How does he express this love? One admirable trait is he never seems too busy to listen, whereas, I am frequently in hurry and tend to ‘prompt’ the person to get ‘to the point’. What could I learn from my friend?
One obvious lesson would be to follow the dictum, ‘God gave us one mouth and two ears and we should use them proportionally.’ Too often I do not do so and I suspect that often the speaker can sense my impatience. Another trait that I admire in my friend is that throughout our association I have never heard him speak negatively about another human being. Does this not provide another possible area for emulation?
I am not suggesting that we place certain people on the pedestal. If we did so, we would soon discover his/her areas of spiritual growth deficiencies as each of us have them. No, perhaps I focus on setting my sights on imitating his ‘loving’ behaviors and use them to become more Christ-like in a specific area. If I can learn to express my love for others in a way that more clearly mirrors my Savior, might someday He say to me “Well done good and faithful servant!”