I love to imitate people and things. This got me in all sorts of trouble in my early school days as I aped teachers, television stars and assorted animals during class. It amused me and some of my classmates but did not endear me to teachers especially if I was mimicking them. Imitation, it turns out, is not always appreciated as sincere flattery.
It turns out though that imitation is one of my chief ways of learning. I come across someone who does something I want to do and imitate them until their strength becomes, at least in part, one of mine. Hearing a lecture on a subject didn’t often transmit all it could, though I learned how to give a lecture. I learn best by imitation. It strikes me this is the very way that Jesus’ disciples learned!
Years ago there was a slogan “Be like Mike”. The Mike of course was Michael Jordan but the problem is that no one could really be ‘like’ this extraordinary athlete. Recently though I met a Mike that I want to be more like. In the midst of a hectic morning he asked if he could walk with me to my next appointment. As we walked and chatted it became clear he wanted to spend some time with me and other ‘positive’ people. I told him of the programs we do and we made arrangements for him to help me with breakfast on Saturday. In the course of the conversation he mentioned that he goes to the YMCA. I told him I had just joined. Mike knows his way around a gym and he offered to show me around. We met that night and I found in him a personal trainer!
We began by walking around the track, at my pace. He asked about my aspirations and gauged my health. I am nearly 63 and I’m not interested in body building. My goal is to age ((if I must) in as healthy a manner as possible. After 3-4 laps Mike led me in some simple stretches and the proceeded to take me on a circuit of machines. He demonstrated each and guided me as I copied him. He is a very fit guy but he showed tremendous patience with me. You could see he was really enjoying this and he was careful not to overwhelm me.
I thought “I want to be like Mike!” I want to do my evangelism/discipleship just like him. I want to walk with people at their pace. I want to hear about their aspirations and help gauge their ‘health’. I want to demonstrate a circuit of spiritual exercises: Bible Study, Prayer, Worship, Kindness/Service, etc. and I want to encourage people to imitate me. Paul says “follow me as I follow Christ”. As a personal spiritual trainer I want to make sure people don’t become overwhelmed. I want to be aware that there is no ‘cookie cutter’ program but that each one requires a ‘personal’ trainer.
I thank God that God brought Mike into my life so I might age more gracefully but also that I might live it more purposefully. I want to be like Mike!