What Are We Imitating?

Mike —  January 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

I wrote some devotions for the students attending Winter White Wash this weekend and thought I’d share them here while we’re gone.
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What are we imitating?
Do you ever think about what you’re imitating? Take a second now and think about what you are like… If someone were comparing you to someone or something else, what would they compare you to? That is what you are imitating. Is it what you want?

Several years ago, I took a group of my students to CIY in Ft. Collins. As I was walking down the hall, I heard someone call out my last name. When I first turned around, I didn’t see anyone I recognized, but then I noticed a guy who was a friend of my dad. I hadn’t seen this guy for over 10 years, since I was about 12 years old. How did he recognize me? Actually, he didn’t recognize me, but he recognized my dad in me. As I walked down the hallway, surrounded by hundreds of other people, this guy saw my dad’s walk in my walk. I don’t mean that in some abstract metaphorical way, he literally thought I was my dad until I turned around and was obviously much younger than the man he was expecting!

I walk like my dad. I never intended to. I never studied my dad’s steps and tried to mimic his way of placing one foot in front of the other. I never joined a small group to learn his walking patterns or went on a walk-like-Larry retreat. My dad never took me to a class to learn how to walk his way. I just do. I’ve imitated him without ever trying to.

Right now, you are adopting behaviors as your own without ever thinking about them. You are doing things that you could never give a reason for. That’s not a big deal when we’re talking about how a person walks or holds a fork or blows their nose… but what about how you treat others? What about how (and what) you think about God? Many of your behaviors and thoughts will be shaped by what you spend the most time with. (i.e. I spent a lot of time with my dad… ended up walking like my dad.) Think back over the last week – what did you spend your time doing? Who were you with most? What did you watch and listen to? Be careful… because that’s what you’ll soon be imitating.

That’s what makes these words from Paul so critical:
“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.”

Does your “time budget” reflect those values from Philippians 4? If not, start now to spend more time with people, thoughts, and media that are worth imitating.

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