Today I prepare to teach a class of youth how to draw cartoons and use free software such as Pencil, Creatoon, Synfig, and Blender to render animated movies. I am blessed with the opportunity to foster creative talent in others even while I am still learning myself. The invitation before us is to muster every talent, resource, and energy to build and serve the kingdom of Christ... even cartoon animation! Since I am also learning along with the students in my classroom it is important that I also teach a most important art, a much more important than the drawing of cartoons. For this art finds application not only in the arts, but in every dimension of life from God and country to marriage and family to friendship and career.
It is the art of imitation.
God designed us to learn and grow, yes. However, we learn and grow best with and from others. Of course individuals have cut paths to new knowledge and innovation, but never without at least beginning with the results of prior entreprenours and persevering with great support from others somewhere. Most commonly progress is made by groups and teams of people with a common goal challenging one another on to greater achievement. Doggedly following in the wake of those who have pressed the front lines of the goals you seek will one day give you a seat among the servant leaders of your chosen field.
Each of us may have many aspirations. However, there is no aspiration so great as to manifest the humble character of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (WEB), "Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Later he encouraged the church at Thessalonica saying, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia” (I Thessalonians 1:6-7, WEB).
Paul strove to imitate the example of Christ and to be an example worthy of imitation himself. Pride did not keep Paul from learning from others and so aside from Christ himself Paul became the model missionary, par excellence. So "And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men" (Colossians 3:23 WEB) and through humble imitation and the grace of God I pray that you also reach the par excellence of God's calling for you.
A few guidelines for the art of imitation
- Follow God and his design and purpose for yourself first, Matthew 6:33
- Choose role models of that purpose second, I Corinthians 11:1
- Choose role models wisely, I Thessalonians 1:6
- Choose several role models for a balanced perspective, I Corinthians 3:1-9
- Observe the choices that led to their success, 3 John 1:11
- Imitate those choices and make them habits, Hebrews 6:12
- Befriend role models to follow them more closely, Hebrews 13:7-8
- Note the weaknesses of your role models, I Corinthians 15:33
- Return to God and confess your own weaknesses, I John 1:9-10
- Seek to be a godly example to others, I Thessalonians 1:7