Day 22: We’re Connected to Grow Together – By Being Examples to Each Other

Point to Ponder: We all need models to mature.
Verse to Remember: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” — I Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Question to Consider: Who will I look to as models and mentors for my spiritual growth? Who am I willing to be an example to?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 22 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

I have heroes again.

A few months ago, I suddenly realized I was using the word ‘hero’ to describe various men whom I admire greatly for the way they’ve chosen to impact their worlds: Dan Walters, Mark Satin, Luis Bush, etc. I suspect this was an after-effect of my ‘awakening’ from “geek to man.” Before that, I suspect that I was inspired by ideas rather than people (I define an intellectual as someone who has a deep emotional relationship with abstract concepts :-). However — as much as I still love words — I now believe important ideas are primarily communicated through character: words just don’t have enough bandwidth. After all Jesus himself didn’t leave behind any books — only a community.

It also occurred to me that part of the transition from child to adult is that:

* the purpose of a child is become more like his or her parents, but
* the purpose of an adult is to become more like Christ.
Alas, our adolescent experience typically focuses on leaving parents, but only substitutes culture and self as replacements. Or, even if we nominally affirm Christ as our role model, few people seem able to grasp earthly heroes as healthy proxies. Either we idolize an earthly leader, or end up growing cynical about all heroes (perhaps in that order, I suspect).

For me, becoming a Man involves recognizing that my primary purpose is to become more like Christ, and that other men are useful models for highlighting particular facets of that. That is, I look at people I admire, and ask myself how they remind me of Christ, and pursue that aspect of their personality. The best heroes, of course, are those who are honest enough to admit their own weaknesses and point me to Christ themselves. However, part of being a Man is taking the responsibility to discern which attributes of my heroes are praiseworthy vs. unfortunate, and exemplary vs. inimitable. Starting, but not ending, with my own father. As well as the ‘received’ vision of my Father.

For my own part, I now see my mission in life as more to manifest the character of Christ than merely to speak words. That is, the legacy I leave behind is primarily the lives I have affected through my relationships, not merely the quality or quantity of my prose. Over on my philosophy blog, I’ve tried to emphasize that the community I’m striving to create is my thesis. At the risk of blowing my own horn, there’s at least some signs of success, as measured by one respondent:

Let me add, however, that we have the good fortune of having Ernie as our moderator. This should not become a mutual admiration society; that would be terribly embarrassing. But I belong to other groups on the Web, and have belonged to additional groups in the past, and of all moderators, certainly so far, Ernie is the best. Always something worthwhile going on. Always a steady hand on the tiller, so to speak. always a good disposition that creates a non-threatening place for us to go and express our ideas. Not least, he takes criticism very well, indeed, and sets a superb example.

Not that I always live up even to my own example, but rather to show I at least accept that such is my responsibility and mandate: to not just tell the truth, but to show it.

Prayer: God, I long to be a Man of God, like the great (if flawed) men of God you used to save nations, rescue cities, and destroy evil. Teach me wise humility, that I may be blessed by sitting at the feet of those who have fought the good fight, especially those who have known and served you for decades. Yet grant me also a humble boldness, as I strive to build on their example and manifest your glory in new and powerful ways, in areas where your kingdom is not yet sufficiently known. Father, glorify your servant only and always as I seek to glorify you. May I be a man of whom my father can be proud, that those who come after me would say, “He inspired me to be more like Christ.” In whose name I pray, Amen.