One Sentence That Could Change Everything

There is one sentence that I think could change the way we live our lives. It could change the way we treat our families, spend our money, do our jobs, and even relate to and interact with God. When you read and say it, you will want to shrink back. Don’t. Lean in. Embrace it. Live it. I believe it is a game changer.

A few years ago, when my family and I were eating breakfast, my oldest son complained about his sister “always” copying him. Tonia and I tried to explain to him that it was a compliment and an honor for his sister to want to copy him.

I know it can be annoying to have a younger sister or brother doing everything you do; I had a younger sister who copied me all the time, and it was annoying and frustrating. However, it wasn’t until I became older that I realized that my sister was complimenting and honoring me. Then, the sheer responsibility of giving and leaving an example worth copying, frightened me. I had to change my attitude and behavior because she was not only watching me, but she wanted to be like me. This was a game changer in my life.

Was I supplying her with a healthy or unhealthy example? Had she seen something in me and copied something from me that would negatively affect her later? If so, then I would be responsible for giving her a poor example to copy. I began to feel the weight of being a good model to copy.

Whether we know it or not, people, especially our children, watch us very carefully and want to be like us. They imitate the way we walk, the way we talk, the way laugh, the way we sit, the way we eat, the way we write, the way we spend money, the way we treat people, and especially the way we interact with God. I hope you feel the weight of that responsibility.

But, we should not shy away from the responsibility of people wanting to copy us, but lean into it and embrace it. We should embrace the responsibility and say like Paul:

And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Living this sentence could change everything for us. When I read Paul’s words, I immediately ask myself a few questions: How well am I following Christ? Am I giving people a Christlike pattern to copy? Do my life, love, and attitude remind people of Jesus?

If we are not doing a good job in imitating Christ not, then we can understand why we would be hesitant in telling people: “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” I confess to you, some days I am not a good illustration and model of Jesus. I am selfish, filled with unhealthy pride, and some days I follow the flesh instead of submitting to the Spirit. But, each day, by his grace, I desire to strive to leave an example worth copying. I desire to be a good model of faith, love, forgiveness, generosity, and praise. I know you do, too. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us so I can say to others with confidence: Copy me as I copy Christ.

One of the best ways to be a good illustration of Christ is to spend time with him daily. Read the Gospels, and observe how Jesus talked and interacted with people. Learn how he prayed, forgave and trusted the Father. Then, ask the Spirit for power to live like he did. So that, we can say to people around, with confidence, “Copy me as I copy Christ!” 

How do you feel about telling someone: “Copy me!”


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  • terwi1td

    Pastor Marvin,

    I recently listened to a podcast on styles of relating – specifically three different styles that people use to relate to others. I think one way to understand how to copy Christlike behavior is to emulate the way that Jesus related with others – which is very, very difficult. The three styles of relating are to 1)move toward someone, 2)move against someone, or to 3)move away from someone. This is a brand new concept to me today. The speaker talked about how Jesus could ebb and flow freely between the three styles of relating quickly, he didn’t need a reset. For instance, on his way into Jerusalem for his grand entry, he was the hero and the triumphant King entering the city. What was the first thing we did upon entry? He entered the temple and proceeded to turn over tables and threw people out. This would be a “move against” others, but immediately following that – look at Matthew 21:14 – this made room for the blind and lame to enter the temple and get healing from him! This “move against” was an act of love, both for God and for those in pain. The speaker’s point was to help us categorize our actions toward others, to see patterns and motives behind our actions. Generally speaking, I am a person who naturally moves toward, I like close conversations, deep relationships – however my false self (the self we present the world as a means of protection) tends to move away (escape) due to fear. This is not to say that any of the three style of relating are better than one another, as they are all needed for different purposes and all three styles of relating can be found as primary styles in different people across the world. We just need to learn when to use each and how to use each in LOVE. This is the key. Jesus was able to switch between styles of relating easily, but we tend to stick where we are comfortable. Jesus did NOTHING that was comfortable but continually crossed boundaries and conventions.

    I am looking forward to exploring this concept further, and hope it helps others as they explore how best to copy Jesus today. Step out on the water.