By Dr. John E. Morgan
Pastor–Collinsville Baptist Church
David was in my church’s youth group. But he picked a strange role model.
I was a Youth Minister in the Louisville area for four years while I was in seminary. The church I served was just across the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana.
The seminary required all students to be active in local church ministry. If you could not get a paid position, you did volunteer work in one of the local churches. I was fortunate to find a part time position at Howard Park Christian Church just six miles away.
I did all those things other youth ministers do. Weekly meetings, Sunday School classes, retreats, recreation, sitting around talking. Going ice skating, going to a movie, going for a walk. Camping trips, youth softball and basketball teams. Lots of retreats. Some for the weekend close by. Some for a week far away to Florida or Colorado. (You know what Indiana kids did first when they got to the Rockies and there was several feet of snow? The cleared off an outside court and played basketball.)
I loved my “job”. What I really loved were my kids. In the high school group we had about 25 regulars. That means there were all kinds. Some loved sports, some loved music. Kids with good grades and kids with bad grades. Kids from strong homes and kids from broken homes. My job was to lead them all to Jesus and then to lead them all to a strong Christian life. You do that with activities. And Bible study. And service projects. And you do it by loving them.
David was one of my youth. And David loved music. He became a great organist and still sends Gloria and me a cd of his music each year at Christmas. Great, great talent. Great person.
After I had been at the church for about three years, I noticed that David was letting his light blond hair grow out. It was a time when most guys had longer hair, so it was not surprising he was adopting the mop top most of us had.
I mentioned it casually to his parents. “Hey, what’s up with David and the long hair? Quite a change.” His mother looked at me as if I was the dumbest person on the earth. She asked me, “Well, who does he know with long hair that he would be copying?”
I was confused. Then I realized that she meant me. David let his hair grow because I had long hair. He was imitating me. I went from confused to startled. No, no, no. Why would anybody imitate me? I knew how unworthy I was. I knew I should not be a role model for anybody.
After a while, I realized I had no choice. I was a role model. Part of my job was to show my youth what a Christian life is. The only question was whether I would be a good example or a bad one.
That was over thirty years ago. And the need for Christians to have good role models has only increased. People desperately need to see somebody who is a Christian and lives like it. I am unworthy. And so are you. But we have no choice. So we strive to follow Jesus who is worthy. And do it so consistently that we can sing, “let others see Jesus in me”.
Paul was not bashful about telling people to imitate him. As he imitated Christ.
You ought to imitate us…give you in ourselves an example to imitate…join in imitating me…and those who walk according to the example you have in us. II Thess 3:7-9, Phil 3:17, II Tim.1and others.