News and Views

The word is... example

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...well said

Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.

Example

By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

It seems at first that Paul is being conceited. Oh really, Paul? Imitate you? What happened to humility?

Yet in the church, we learn to be disciples by following the examples of others. Like an apprentice, learning a craft on the job, we follow in the footsteps of folks with more experience. We follow their example. Ask a leader in your church how they became a leader and you will hear names of folks who brought them along, taught them, and helped them grow into believers and followers of Christ.

Particularly in the current political climate, people are looking to us, whether we like it or not, to see what a Christian looks like. How does a Christian walk and talk? What sorts of choices do Christians make? How do we behave when we disagree? Very quickly, we see that we move from outsider/seeker/visitor to being an example to someone else, both inside and outside the church.

Our son, Nathan, is a junior in high school who runs cross-country. When I read Paul’s words to him, he said, “Oh no, Paul isn’t being conceited.” He said that when he was at his first practice, he thought he was going to die from fatigue. He wanted to stop running and collapse. Suddenly next to him, there was Alexei, an upperclassman. He said, “Don’t stop running. It’s actually easier to run this than to walk it. Run with me. Match my pace, do what I do.”

Now, Nathan is the upperclassman who helps folks at the back of the pack during practice. Nathan said, “Paul is being a good teammate. He’s bringing folks along.  I couldn’t follow the lead guy—he was too fast; I could hardly see him.  But I could follow Alexei.  And eventually, I got better, by following his example.”

Christ is the ultimate perfect example, but we are all examples too. Let us be so connected to Jesus that we can come alongside folks in the struggle and say, “Don’t give up. Match my steps. Imitate me.”

By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill

The most terrifying words that an elementary school student could hear in my day were,

“I’m going to make an example out of you.” Those words typically meant that you had done something wrong, you had gotten caught, and your punishment was going to be bad enough to deter anybody else from committing the same atrocity that you had committed.

There were no circumstances under which you wanted to be made an example. It wasn’t until years later, after finding out what the word “example” actually meant, that I overcame my fear and realized that being an example was not something to be feared, but could be something to be embraced.

By definition, an example is something or someone that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated. I always thought being an example was a bad thing, until I realized you (as an example) could be a good thing showing others what to do.

Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Paul was telling Timothy, and all of us, that we can be an example not of what not to do, but rather of a better way of living.

When we proclaim ourselves to be Christians, we must remember that people are always watching. They want to see what kind of example we are going to set.

When we go into our places of business, what kind of example are we setting? When we face hard times, what kind of example are we setting? When we face difficult decisions, what kind of example are we setting?

As believers, it is our job to be an example of the blessings of God. It is our duty to let our light so shine so that all the world can see what faith in action and belief in the Almighty looks like.

So as you go day to day, remember God has set you up to be an example. Be a good one.

 

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