Are you a role model to others? Daft Question. Of course you are.
There is a fine line in this world between setting a good example and being the embodiment of a horrible warning. Naturally, the object is to fall on the right side of the line.
But it strikes me it’s almost impossible to tell just when and how you’re acting as a role model to others.
Let me explain:
A bloke I know from church went overseas as a missionary. He felt called by God to go and serve abroad on a long term assignment with his wife, and he went. I never saw the private side to this story, but the public side has always demonstrated a quiet respect for others, genuine love for the people he worked with, care for his family and an active sense of responsibility for getting the job done. I don’t think he’s done any of this just to be a role model, but by being an excellent bloke he’s demonstrated a way of living I find attractive and to which I aspire.
Another fellow worked as a youth worker in my local church. He knows and promotes the value of doing the right thing, has a no nonsense practical faith and an approachable manner. These things are qualities I admire. In this case, he and I have talked about the impact he had on my teens. He’s still a mate and I know for a fact he tried to set a good example when he was doing the youth work. But the underlying goodness and practicality? No, that’s just him.
A girl from Uni, about my age, working her way through study while raising her daugther single handed (got a First); a solo bass player who lives frugally but honestly while living their art and doing work they love; a life long teacher who carries on even in her retirement because she loves doing the job before her; a communications officer in local government who spends time helping others around him to understand the benfits of and learn to use social media … because he thinks it’s important; a chap who loves his job, serving as an inspiration to junior staff working on the same team, even though he’s not technically in the management structure; a whole church (not actually many people) who decided more or less to stay open because they provide comfort and community to people who wouldn’t get to church otherwise, and to accept that the financial burden is a necessary cost of this work.
All of these people have shown me a good way to live, and I’m grateful for the lessons learned. It makes me determined to live well myself, and if in that process I inspire others, I’ll be very happy.
At the end of the day, though, it’s never about being a model for others is it? It’s about something on the inside being right and the orientation of yourself with respect to others. And that looks a bit more tricky.