Where Have All the Imitators Gone?

Post from Pastor Tim Dillmuth – I’ve come to realize that there is an alarming lack of Christian imitation within the church today.  By Christian imitation, I’m referring to Paul’s call to the Corinthians, “imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).”

This was strikingly evident to me, while in a small group studying Philippians 3:17.  It says, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”   Of course, no one had a problem with Paul’s call to imitate him, but everyone balked at the challenge for us to be the model to imitate.

To be sure, I’ve heard the clarion call (through many hats, t-shirts and bracelets) to consider “What Would Jesus Do” in every imaginable situation.  But WWJD is not the same thing as WWPD–Paul’s surprising call to the Corinthian church.  Ultimately, we are to model Christ, but Paul offered the early Christians a “flesh and blood” example that they could see, touch and feel.

Paul understood the need to not only teach, serve, lead and suffer, but to model Christ in the process of doing these things.  Essentially, this is how we understand the Work of Mercy of reigning.  Reigning incorporates the idea of Christian imitation while performing all of the other Works of mercy.

All too often, our leaders call us to “do as we say, not as we do.”  They can speak inspiring sermons, but their life-styles don’t inspire imitation.  Business Week Magazine aptly noticed this about the worlds of politics and business, but it could be seamlessly applied to the church as well.  It says,

Many of the chosen leaders want to lead only for their own ego aggrandizement—for money, fame, power, and glory. They want to take as much from the system as they can. They aren’t genuine leaders at all. They are just glory-seekers. Yet we set these leaders up as role models. When they prove they have feet of clay, as all leaders do, we take pleasure in their destruction.

Yes, there is a lack of Christian imitation within the church.  Yes, it seems like there are few leaders worth following today.  But as easy as it would be to point the finger at these leaders, we must recognize that each and every one of us exercise influence or control over someone.  In other words, we are all leaders in our own right!  So instead of waiting for someone else to reign properly, why not start by inviting others to follow our example while we follow Christ?

Where do we start?  Philippians 2:1-11 is an excellent place to find the proper heart and attitude of Biblical reigning.  But as long as we’re referring to Business Week Magazine, let’s see what they have to say . . . and you may be surprised at how it mirrors the Philippians 2 passage.

Authentic leadership is about serving others. And serving others, not seeking glory, is what leaders in both the corporate realm and political arena are selected to do. As the late Peter Drucker said: “Leadership is not rank or privileges, titles or money. Leadership is responsibility.”

About tdillmuth

Pastor Timothy Dillmuth is the Discipleship Pastor of Voice of the Martyrs Korea. He oversees Underground University, a missionary training school for North Korean defectors, and does discipleship training with Christians from all over the world. Pastor Tim received a bachelor's degree from Zion Bible College and an M.Div. from Regent University. He lives with his wife, Melissia and their three children in Seoul, South Korea.
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4 Responses to Where Have All the Imitators Gone?

  1. Jacquelynne Titus says:

    Our response to WJD (What Jesus did) could be to keep the be summed up in Matthew 5:3-12 The Be -attitudes. Our brothers and sisters in the 10/40 window are imitating Paul http://www.persecution.com and we can imitate him as well, the church is local and global Ephesians 3. We can serve them, (Christ’s body)but as we do they serve us much more. http://www.persecution.com

  2. finnellvw says:

    I am struck by how important imitation was in Christian history. A large part of hagiography is to imitate as much as venerate the Saint. We are to follow their example as living examples of Jesus Christ. Whether it is martyrdom or sacrificial service, imitating the Saints was paramount.

    We should follow suit, imitating both living and “dead” saints to bring our lives closer to the model of Christ Himself.

    I would recommend that your blog readers pick up a good hagiography and read about a Saint each day. Learn what they did, how they lived sacrificially, and how they died. Then, imitate what they did. Encourage others to do it with you and then become living examples to others.

    • tdillmuth says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I agree – church history is filled with examples of men and women who are worth our time to both study and imitate! It’s important to have someone living to imitate, but to never forget the example of those who have gone before us.

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