Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-11
One of the most challenging lessons I am learning as a leader is the importance of imitation in discipleship. Discipleship is more than simply information exchange. Leading someone in a discipling relationship also means saying, “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus.” We have to invite those who we lead to watch what we do, to help us do what we do, to try doing what we do with our help, and then set them free to innovate and teach others to do the same. To lead people effectively I have to regularly ask myself if I am providing enough opportunities for people to imitate what it is I am trying to help them learn. Is my life worth imitating? Is my life such that can be imitated? I have to tend to both of these questions regularly if I ever hope to multiply disciples.
So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 NLT)
In this text Paul and his cohorts have had the joy of seeing some of what God can do. They invited the church in Thessalonica to follow them as they follow Jesus and now, by the church doing the same the word of the Lord has spread far beyond their immediate community. It has spread to the point that Paul says, “wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it.”
As you disciple people are you providing enough opportunities for those you lead to imitate that which you want them to learn? Is your life worth imitating? Is your life such that it can be imitated?