Who are you following? Not just on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.
Who is influencing your life? Is it your favorite writer or author? Is it a particular blogger that puts words to your thoughts? Is it a specific actor or a favorite show? Is it a musician or band that is always playing in the background? Is it an artist that paints your world? What about a teacher or professor that challenges your thinking? Is it a politician that voices addresses your issues? Is it an athlete that is a role model for you?
Who is influencing your values? Who is shaping your beliefs? Who is impacting your behavior? Whose life is your life imitating? And most of all, who is reaching your heart?
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
In our media saturated society, we can’t avoid or escape the Sirens’ Song that lures the unsuspecting to shipwreck their lives on the rocky shores of self-achievement, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, and self-indulgement. All around us are “godless enemies” (Philippians 3:18-19) who feed their appetites, find satisfaction what should cause embarrassment, and fall with gravity’s destructive force to the physical, material, and sensual things of this world.
With so many influences that threaten to bring our lives crashing down, we need to follow the godly examples available to us that encourage us to set our hearts on Jesus and things above (Philippians 3:8-10, Philippians 3:20, Colossians 3:1-2). In his letter to his friends in the prestigious Roman colony of Philippi, Paul wrote,
“Join in imitating me…” Philippians 3:17
Paul could encourage others to follow his example because he was passionately following Jesus Christ himself. Paul had one clearly defined goal in life on this Earth: to get to know His Savior more and more until he saw Him face-to-face. Knowing Jesus was the greatest, most important thing to Paul. That’s why he could say the same thing to the Corinthians,
“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Paul’s own example encourages us to make knowing Jesus Christ the focus of our lives. But his example of following Jesus was not the only one available. He went on to say,
“Observe those who live according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17
Who are the godly examples that God has placed in your life that you should follow? Teachers in your school? Parents in your home? Leaders in your church? A mentor or a friend?
Over the course of my life, God has brought so many godly men and women into my life who have dramatically influenced my relationship with Jesus: Jack Reeves has modeled Christ-like love and compassion to me since I was in high school — when I needed it the most. Ken Carozza, Rick Smith, Allen Frans, Mike Cahill, and Russell Allen when I was in college. Walt Baker greatly impacted my life on a mission trip to Haiti and first encouraged me to consider ministry as a pastor. There are so many professors from Dallas Theological Seminary who have my influenced walk with Christ in the classroom, on the racquetball court, around the table, and especially, in the local church: Doug Cecil, Bob Chisholm, Tom and Mary Constable, Charlie Dyer, John and Karen Grassmick, Hall Harris, Bob and Pearl Lightner, Mike and Penny Pocock, and many more. The influence of pastors Don Geiger, Steve Faubion, Roger Raymer, and Neil Ashcraft will forever impact how I serve Christ as a pastor. Faithful friends, like Jonathan Baker, Tony and Lisa Evans, Derek and Tammy Hughes, David and Carol Morgan, and Stan Willis (and his wife/my sister, Lori) have walked beside DeeDee and me and carried us through some of life’s dark days. Likewise, there are faithful people who are a few years older and much wiser, like Dan and Jodi McEvilly, Doug and Linda Salser, Philip and Heidi Graham, Gary and Dionne Coppinger, and Rich and Julie Thomas, who have pointed me to Jesus continuously and always encourage me to trust in Him. The godly examples of faithful servant leaders and friends at PlanoBibleChapel are, also, lives well-worth imitating. Of course, DeeDee, our kids, our parents, and our siblings (Lori and Debbie) are the ones who know me best and see me, most often, at my worst, serve as the greatest examples of Christ-like humility and love because I see them up close, too.
The examples of these great people, and so many more, as well as their passion to follow Jesus continue to impact me today. In fact, if you’re still reading this reflective rambling, you are probably on my heart and mind, too, because you’ve encouraged me to follow Jesus and live for Him.
This week, let me challenge you to take three practical steps of following the examples of godly influences in your life.
1. Meet with at least one person who has been a Christ-like example to you. Meet them for coffee or lunch. Share with them how God has used them in your life to encourage you in your desire to follow Jesus. Be specific in how their life has been a model for knowing Jesus more and more.
2. Write a note to at least one other person who has influenced your life with Christ, but lives out of town or is, otherwise, unavailable to meet face to face.
3. List at least two ways that you will imitate the Christ-like lives of those people and then live like them, like Jesus, this week.
We all need living examples of following Jesus and, more importantly, we need to imitate their lives to find joy and fulfillment.
“I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)
Follow me, too… as I follow Jesus Christ.