Sometimes you hear people talking about role models. And how important it is to have good role models. It seems that many of us look up to people and even worship certain people. It’s called ‘hero worship’. Many of the famous and influential people we hear of have let others shape their lives—not just in childhood, but into adulthood as well.
Long before he became famous as a member of The Beatles, John Lennon idolised many of the old rhythm and blues greats—people like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. He apparently had their pictures on his wall and used them as inspiration when he first began playing the guitar. Woody Allen watched the Marx Brothers films hundreds of times and dreamed of being as funny and talented. It’s no secret that Groucho Marx was a major influence on the talented film maker.
The singer Whitney Houston watched her older cousin Dionne Warwick release her hit songs and said, “I would like to be like her.” Whitney Houston had a role model to follow, as have a number of other people. Maybe you have someone in mind who is a role model—someone who has greatly inspired you and has helped shape the person you are today.
I also recall that when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in the UK, succeeding Tony Blair, he spoke publicly about his parents. Here’s what Gordon Brown said:
They gave me a moral compass which has guided me through each stage of my life. They taught me the importance of integrity and decency, treating people fairly—and duty to others.
Although most of us will not have to grapple with the issues Gordon Brown had in front of him, we still need a compass to guide our lives.
Role Models Are Important in Our Lives
Important decisions need to be made and we need to have a firm foundation upon which to base these decisions. Otherwise we become like a boat tossed around in the water without a rudder. That’s where role models come in—influential people who help us find our way through life and give us ideas how to get through those difficulties that invariably come to all of us. We draw from them courage and hope as well as ideas.
We who are parents know the importance of being good role models to our children. You’ve heard the phrase ‘children learn what they live’. Some experts in this field say that 90 to 95% of all human behaviour is learned through modelling—it’s about what we do rather than what we say. And it’s scary knowing our children are watching and perhaps copying every move we make—the good and the bad. Do we model responsible and caring behaviour?
The 20th-century poet Edgar Guest wrote a poem called “The Living Sermon” which said this:
All the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
Though I might not understand you and the fine advice you give,
There’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Jesus, the Ultimate Role Model
I want to suggest that Jesus is the best role model any of us can have. Having him as the compass and guide will make the difference. Think of Jesus for a moment. Unfortunately, we sometimes think of Jesus as a smug, radical person who could never smile or enjoy a good time and just stands in the background and rebukes people.
Not so. If you read John’s Gospel, you see Jesus was a real person who socialised and mixed with people. He was part of a wedding feast in Cana; he attended the Temple; he was part of a feast in Jerusalem. And yet, his mind was based on spiritual matters at the same time. He used every opportunity to point others to eternal life. But he was a very compassionate Jesus and reached out to many in need. What a great role model!
In Jerusalem there was a man who had been sick for 38 years and Jesus healed him. He was able to walk and this was the first time in 38 years. Jesus was interested in the individual, even those who no-one else wanted. Another man who was born blind was healed by Jesus. These are a few examples of the power of Jesus, who had the power to transform others’ lives. He was the ultimate role model for you and me.
If ever you need a guide in life, Jesus is the best one to turn to because he knows all about you, and where the future will lead you. And we all need that kind of help along the road of life.