A Better Role Model


For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

The world is obsessed with role models. Athletes, musicians, actors, authors and even pastors are all held up as examples of people you should aspire to be like, to emulate. We want to be like these people. Good looking, smart, strong, talented and most especially — famous. We are told that striving to be more like these people is an admirable goal.

Is it?

As you’ve probably noticed from the list above, role models come in a staggering array of different types. They have different jobs, talents, looks and even different types of fame. The only things that all these heroes/role models seem to have in common is the inevitable revelation that they are, in fact, human and the corresponding let down their fans/worshipers feel as a result of that revelation. Perhaps that too is part of the appeal. In the film Spider-Man there is a line that would suggest that part of the appeal of a hero is seeing them fall, at least when they’re someone else’s role model, anyway.

But the one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.

Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Spider-Man

One of the reasons I hate talking about myself is that I don’t want to give people the impression that I consider myself better than anyone else; I know better than anyone that I’m not. I’m very much like every other human on the planet, maybe worse. The truth is that we all lack something. We are all unworthy. Remember, Paul wrote in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That includes me, you, every athlete, every musician, every author and even every pastor. None are worthy. We’re not worthy of the Glory of God and we’re not worthy of being revered as role models here on Earth, either.

So if not one of us is worthy, why do we seek to emulate each other? Who should we look up to? Who should be our role model? I’m so glad I asked.

In all of history there has only been one person who should be considered a role model, who we should aspire to emulate. Only one perfect person, ever, and mankind nailed him to a tree instead of listening to him and following him. What does it say that we will idolize an actor we know is imperfect but we killed a teacher who was perfect?

Instead of holding up celebrities as worthwhile people to model ourselves on we need to look back and model ourselves after Jesus. We need to be like Him. We need to love everyone. We need to judge no one. We need to forgive all. Instead of looking for fame and celebrity we need to focus on serving others. We need to be like Jesus in deed and thought — not just paying lip service to the idea. It’s so much harder to walk in His footsteps than to just call ourselves his followers. But we need to be willing to try.

Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:15-16

After reading the second version of this blog (this is the third), my wife pointed out that looking up to someone who is modeling their life on Christ could be a good thing and maybe she’s right. So long as we are seeing the reflection of our Lord and not the person at whom we are looking. I do not aspire to be a role model but I have one. Jesus is my role model, and He could be yours too. Just do your best to let his light shine in you and through you. Try to be like Him. Reflect His image. Model His behavior. Emulate Jesus!

Sometimes you will still stumble, but that’s okay. When you do, just pick yourself up, dust yourself down and keep moving forward. Keep reaching. Keep striving. Press on toward the goal of becoming like Him. Not for your own glory but for the Glory of God.

Love all. Serve all. Forgive all. Judge none. Let the light of the Lord shine through you. Amen!!




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Richard L. Foland Jr. is an Author, Lay Speaker and former Youth Leader. He has lived a mostly nomadic life in western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and (briefly) western New York. Currently, he resides somewhere in the chimney of Pennsylvania with his wife and a constantly shifting array of children and stepchildren. He hates divorce, having been through one, and loathes large gatherings. The latter probably explains why he would prefer to sit alone at a keyboard rather than go to a party. You can follow his slow descent into inanity at the Pharos Blogject, on goodreads or Facebook.