Imitators

It's fun watching little Ella follow everything that her big cousin is doing. Like, he would say, "Alright, alright! I will eat my vegetables!" while throwing up his hands in the air. She would copy it right to the throwing of hands while saying, "Awight, awight! E-eat wewewol!" We laugh. He would do and say something else, and she would do and say it in her own cute way. And we laugh harder.

Children are great imitators.They are good in copying almost anything that adults do. You should see the girls wearing my shoes, my lipstick, writing on my precious notebooks, singing like crazy, and preaching at me.

The last is really weird. I could almost hear myself speaking, but this time in a sweet, cute voice. 

At other times, they would imitate the cat or the dog and walk around on their hands and knees on the floor with a kind of a leash around their necks that they would ask me to pull. They would bark or meow and lick me on my face, which usually would be the end of the copycat/dog game as I would run away from such petting gesture.


I love my children, as much as I know that many parents love their children. We want them to  find meaning in their lives and experience a wonderful relationship with God the way that we do. Yet many of us, parents, struggle to pass on to our children the reality of God. We vacillate whether we should show or not show them who God really is and what He means to us. Most of the time, we just hope that in their own time and way, they will find and follow Him.


However, we know that time is short. The time our children spend with us will not last long. Soon, much sooner than we want, they will be gone to find their own place in God's 
plans. And all we can do is pray that they will choose to walk in His Way.

What can we do to use the time with our children wisely?  


We can never pass on what we cannot give. That's why, it is imperative that we experience God ourselves before we can point our children to Him. We can  throw open the doors and windows of our hearts for the Lord and embrace Him like the way we need air when we are under water. (The fish-out-of-water analogy, again.) Yes, our very lives are dependent on God and it is great wisdom to realize that.


Second, we are admonished to "be imitators of God" (Ephesians 5:1). It is the newest, as well as, the oldest way of teaching. I'm talking about role modeling or as referred to by modern educational experts as "imitative learning" based on Lev Vygotsky's theory. (Lev Vygotsky's is a Russian psychologist.) It is the process whereby one person demonstrates by example the lesson that is to be taught, while the other person imitates. Apostle Paul used the idea of modeling in his teaching ministry and has often called Christians to imitate him. He said, "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 4:16). It is obvious that the Bible has anticipated the ideas of modern education and has long shown what "imitative learning" can do.


In Vygotsky's theory, one element is the ZPD or known as zone of proximal development. It is the idea that a learner, or a child, can accomplish a task through the help of a more 
skilled person. The ZPD is deemed a success when the learner has mastered the task, and as a result there is a change in his performance.

Our children learn as they do what we do, say what we say. Even if we don't do anything, they will somehow still copy us in some ways. That's why it is important to read the Bible at home. As we live daily on God's Word like we feed on our daily food, our children will not only see but experience the significance and relevance of the Bible in people's lives, especially in their lives. The Word becomes alive before their eyes as we depend on Jesus, the Word that became flesh, navigating decisions, the low and high points of our everyday lives. They will learn to find answers to their questions as we search the Scriptures for our own answers to our dilemmas. They will soon find out that, ultimately, Jesus is the only answer to our sin problem and to anything and everything... and that's why He had to come and die on Calvary. In learning this for themselves, they will appreciate that loving act that only a loving God can do.


There will be times when we fail to remember to imitate God, but there is time and there is grace. And that time is now. Everyday, we can start to open our Bibles at home and experience God in all our daily task, whether the kids are running around and causing a riot or asleep and looking angelic. God's grace overflows everyday to cover our sinfulness as we come to Him with humble hearts, flowing right to our children's hearts as they witness mercy and justice taking place and ruling our homes.


As our children take their places, where we may not be allowed to come, we can be assured that they will take God's direction. When that time comes, they have a choice to take Him as the One and Only Lord in their lives, and be imitators of Him; as we have 
been His, and as they were ours.

May our lives be a big imitation of Christ's.

References:

Vygotsky's, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

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