"I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me." 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
The Apostle Paul wrote this in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is writing to a church that he planted and laid the foundation for. Although there were others that watered and cultivated this church while Paul was away, he considered them his children and He was there Father in the Gospel.
As I read this text, I thought about my role as a Father. It certainly is littered with poor choices and harsh words. There have been times when I should have used the "count to 10" rule several time in a row. But what I see with Paul is how he chooses to admonish and warn instead of shame. Paul is admonishing and warning the Corinthians with love. To shame someone is to put them down, and to belittle them . To shame someone is to place yourself at the opposite end of love. We shame our kids and our loved ones when we say things like, "That was stupid, why did you do it that way" or "What were you thinking". I am sure you get my point and you could probably come up with many others that you have either used or been the target of.
The whole thing for me comes down to these words "be imitators of me". Back in Paul's day children were expected to learn a trade from their Fathers, but also appropriate behavior. Children learned by imitating their Fathers. Thousands of years haven't changed that because they still imitate us, but what they are imitating has changed tremendously. When we look at our kids we need to look at what we are modeling for them. Are we giving a pattern worth imitating? The state of our world says no! The do as I say, not as I do method of parenting doesn't work, and I know for me I have become fully aware of my need to change the pattern that I am leaving. We need to be living our lives in a manner that is worth imitating.
I challenge you to take a hard look at your life this week and ask yourself if your pattern is worth imitating? A word of warning: Don't do it unless you're prepared to accept the answer.
3 John 1:4