Blog on 3: The Sincerest Form

If you have never heard of Frank Caliendo, you are missing out. Go ahead and Google him and spend a few minutes on YouTube watching him do impressions of everyone from Morgan Freeman and Joe Pesci to Charles Barkley, Donald Trump, and John Madden. It’s hilarious.

It was Oscar Wilde that is credited with saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” So, if Frank does an impression of you, chances are that other people know you as well. Doing an impression of Larry Kowalski of De Pere, Wisconsin doesn’t get Frank to his net worth of over $20 million. But being a spot-on George W. Bush or Barack Obama will. The flattery is in being worth imitating.

Our high school baseball starting lineup has opened each home game by running out when their name(s) and position(s) are called. They gather together on the field in position groups and stand there through the rest of the pre-game. You’ll see something similar everywhere you go at high school and college baseball games all over the country.

But this year, we added something to it. Our local youth baseball league has provided us a team for each game, wearing their own jerseys with local sponsors, to run out with our guys. My players love it. They like the fist bumps and smiles, and don’t mind the little guys running out with them on the field. But, what they don’t process is the impact that they are making by being someone to imitate.

From knowing where to stand and where to place your hat and glove during the National Anthem. . .

. . . to hanging around during the rest of the game watching.

It just might lead to a copied batting stance, way to hold their glove, or just running out a ground ball at full speed. Our players likely don’t realize the flattery involved in the sentiment that you are someone I want to imitate. I want to wear that jersey, run out on that field, and do it like you do.

One of my favorites in the Bible is Paul. There are so many reasons that Paul inspires me. From his conversion story, to his unflappable faith, to his willingness to go when God says go. But, I’ve often said that he had one quality that I would always be afraid to aspire to – his willingness to be the example of faith that others should follow.

In fact, he says it multiple times in Scripture:

Join in imitating me, brothers
– Phil. 4:17

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us
– 2 Thess 3:7

Do what you have learned and received and seen and heard in me
– Phil 4:9

Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ
– 1 Cor. 11:1

Our kids will naturally emulate someone. Whether it’s Mike Trout’s batting stance or Steph Curry’s jump shot. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. I held my glove in front of my face for most of my pitching career just like Roger Clemens (minus about 15-20 mph on my fastball).

But, who are they imitating for the important things in life? Well, mom and dad, like it or not – it’s likely you!

Dads, when your son becomes a husband how will he speak to his wife? How will he treat her at home? Will he honor and cherish her? Will he love her 20 years in with the same passion he did walking the aisle? Will he sacrifice things for his family? Will he seek God in making decisions, honor God with his actions and words, and trust God to provide?

Moms, when your daughter is all grown up will she honor her husband? Will she refuse to talk negatively about him behind his back? Will she nurture and care for her children? Will she do anything to make sure they succeed? Will she model the life of a prayer warrior? Will she worship unashamedly?

Paul sounds pretty bold to me when he urges the different churches in Thessalonica, Phillipi, and Corinth to look at him if they need an example of a Christian faith playing out in the real world. Before you scoff at what you see as arrogance, remember in his first letter to Timothy where he referred to himself as the “chief among sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Most of the time, I feel more like that Paul instead of the one where I might want other believers to look at me to know how to walk in the faith.

But, the catch is – others are watching anyway.

The hope is that we are more the father, husband, mother, wife, believer, servant, brother, sister, or friend that someone can rely on than the funny guy with a few voices or a ballplayer with a sweet swing.

The sincerest form of flattery, to me, would my children growing up to live a life that honors Christ. I pray that they remember and see those rare parts of me more than all the others.

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