Anyone who has ever been around children knows that they are the greatest mimics of all time. For better or for worse, they watch everything the adults around them do and eventually, they begin to do it themselves. We’ve all heard the son who uses the same phrases his dad does or the daughter who can give “the look” that we’ve seen her mom give a thousand times. We are all, to some extent, products of our environments and the people who make those environments what they are.
As most people know, this practice doesn’t stop when we become adults. This kind of learning permeates our culture. Internships. Residencies. Student teaching. We can often learn what to do from a book, but we learn how to do it from watching other people. This is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple maker: we live our lives in ways that mirror the life of Jesus to the best of our ability and, along the journey, we bring others with us. Paul sums it up in his letter to the Corinthians by saying, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
In a strong, spiritual community, this process can be so natural that you don’t even realize it is taking place. This was recently the case for one of our small groups. Jan Hudgins was bragging on Jennifer Spry, who is one of the members of their group. She was sharing a story about how Jennifer had invited one of the college-age girls at our church along with her friends over to simply hang out, make cookies, and pour into their lives. When asked “Why do you think Jennifer chose to do that?” Jan replied, “I don’t know, why?” And the answer was simple, “It’s because of you!”
See, unlike most of our small groups, Ken and Jan Hudgins help lead a small group where most of the members in the group are about 30 years younger than they are. It often provides for an interesting dynamic full of heated discussions centering around appropriate meal and bed times, but it also allows for those who may be further along their spiritual path to pour into those who are following along behind them. And those that are following now know how to help the next generation as they begin taking steps to be more like Jesus.
Because Jan and Patricia chose to pour into Jennifer, Jennifer thought it natural to find others younger than herself that she could pour into. And how far will God take this? When we make an intentional decision to have someone follow us as we follow Christ, it never stops with that one person. God can use that to create a ripple effect that changes families, cities, and even the world. So find your one, grab them by the hand, and let God use you to change the world one person at a time.