Choosing Role Models
When teenagers try to decide what kind of person they want to be now or as an adult, they usually begin by looking at other people they know or at famous people, and choose role models to base their lives on. This can be a wonderful
way to help you see the final results of the choices you are considering making. However, because role models can have an important impact on your life, choosing them is a serious decision.
Sometimes we’re most tempted by the glamorous role models found in show business, or even in our own lives. While it might seem fun to base our lives on the life we think a rock star is living, we need to look at the complete picture. What we see is usually only a small fraction of the person’s actual life, and the part we don’t see might not be so desirable. Does this person have a happy and stable family? Does he spend his time doing something other than working, such as serving in the community? Does he share the values you really want to have?
Because we don’t see famous people in their everyday lives, or in ways not filtered by the media, it is usually better to choose a real-world role model, someone you know from church, volunteer work, or your parents’ friends. Sometimes an older teenager can be a role model, although you won’t be able to see the long term results yet of their choices.
Talk to your parents about any mentors you choose. They may know things you don’t know, and if you’re going to be spending time with the person, your parents need to know and to set guidelines. It’s important to spend time with your role models in public settings or with your parents, not alone, even if the person seems perfectly safe.
Take a careful look at how this person lives his life and what you think you can learn from him. Is he moral? Does he make carefully thought out decisions? Does he make the world a better place in meaningful ways? What does he do when he does something wrong? How does he treat others?
Remember that just because you’ve chosen someone to be your role model does not mean you have to imitate him in every way. You are still yourself. You should always be choosing who you want to be. Watch people you admire and work to be like the best parts of each person. Discard any part of any person’s life you know is not part of God’s plan for you, or just not right for you.
The best role model of all, naturally, is Jesus Christ. Study the Bible and pay close attention to how Jesus lived His life and treated others. Notice how He made decisions and how He handled trials. Then model your life after His. Using Jesus as your role model, you can never go wrong.