A teenager was becoming well-known as a singer. Her mother told her she now needed to be very careful how she lived her life, because she was a role model. The girl protested she didn’t want to be a role model, but her mother told her
she had no choice about that. Others would watch her and imitate her and this was beyond her control. All she could control was deciding what kind of role model she was going to be.
Have you ever found yourself watching another person and trying to be more like her? If so, you know the important part a role model can play. Others may be watching you, just as you are watching others. You represent your family, your religion, your school, your country, and yourself. Anything you are a part of, you represent, and other people will be making decisions about those groups based on your behavior.
Even more importantly, though, others may decide to do things just because you do and they admire you, or they may listen to your words and act on them. For this reason, it’s really important to make sure you’re setting the proper example for others. You may never know a younger child or even a peer is imitating you, so you have to always be your best self.
One area in which others might be imitating you is in how you treat others. A lot of times, when teenagers are in a group, one person will tease another and everyone else will join in. The followers might not have normally been the type to tease, but somehow, when someone else is doing it, it sometimes seems okay. You would never want to be the person who started the teasing. However, you also don’t want to be the one who lets it continue because you didn’t do anything to stop it. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to your peers and change direction, but it can change someone’s life if you find that courage. The person who was being teased will blossom knowing someone cared enough to stop the tormenting. Some teens have committed suicide over teasing and bullying. You could literally save a life by being the one who said, “Hey, guys, cut it out. Did you know Robert is a great artist? I saw him drawing the other day during lunch and he was doing some amazing sketches. Robert, you don’t still have the one you were doing of the garden, do you?”
Now, it doesn’t always work out well to stand up to your peers. Sometimes they turn on you, instead. However, you never really know what they’re thinking inside or who else is watching. Whether or not others openly follow your lead, and whether or not there are consequences, it is important to have the courage to be a good role model for your friends.
Jesus set the example for this. Throughout His ministry, others made fun of Him or persecuted Him for the things He did and taught. He never backed down, though, because He knew who He was and that this mattered more than what His peers thought of Him. We know He was perfect, so even during His teen years, He was being a role model and making the right choices.
When you’re reading the New Testament, pay attention to how Jesus served as a role model. He didn’t just preach. He also set an example by doing things He wanted others to do.
One example of this is when a blind man, Bartimaeus, was on the side of the road begging. (See Mark 10 in the New Testament.) Knowing who Jesus was, and learning He was approaching, he started calling out to Jesus. People told him to be quiet and not to bother Jesus. After all, they thought, he was just a blind begger, not important enough to deserve attention from someone as special as Jesus Christ. However, Jesus heard his cries and asked those with Him to call the man over. Bartimaeus did, and Jesus, treating Him with a respect blind people didn’t get in those days, asked what He could do for the man. (Notice He didn’t say, “What do you want?” He asked what He could do.) The man asked Jesus to restore his sight. “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole,” Jesus answered. The man was healed and followed Jesus.
There are a couple of important things to notice in this story. First, of course, Jesus treated the man with respect. But He was also a role model to all those around Him, including the people who tried to keep Bartimaeus from Jesus. He didn’t use any of the methods He used other times to heal. He simply told the man he was healed due to His own faith. Think of it…a man considered worthless by society had so much faith He could heal himself. What do you think the witnesses thought about when they went home that night? Hopefully, they looked at other disabled people with more respect in the future, and also treated them more respectfully, because Jesus set the example and reminded his witnesses of the value of every human being.
What kind of role model will you be today? Whose life will you change?