Learning from the example of others is powerful. Author and theologian Don Carson asks the question:
Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’
You don’t say “read a book” to someone who wants to learn how to change a tyre or make a latte or play tennis. You invite them to watch you and learn. To imitate you.
Imitating others or being an example who others can imitate is a repeated New Testament theme. On multiple occasions Paul urged his brothers and sisters to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17, Philippians 4:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, 2 Timothy 3:10-11).
And yet, in our increasingly individualistic and isolated culture, we don’t get to do much “watching.” We hear encouragements to “read the Bible” and “pray” but stumble around in the dark trying to understand how.
We can learn so much from others as they open their lives to us – not as experts but as fellow travellers willing to share their experiences for the benefit of others.