Charles Barkley’s infamous commercial where he declared, “I am not a role model” sparked much discussion and debate back in the 1990’s.
Though I understand where Barkley is coming from, I strongly disagree with his statement. The fact is we are ALL role models to some extent or another. No matter who you are, someone is watching and looks to you for inspiration, encouragement, and guidance. Now, some of us may have more influence on a wider variety of people than others, but that is beside the point. Rather you’re a famous NBA superstar with tons of followers or a young child with little worldly “significance,” EVERYONE is a role model to somebody–rather we know it or not.
I’ve had many role models throughout my life. Some of them knew who I was and some of them did not. One person who really stands out to me is former Blue Jay all-state basketball player, Cam Cooper. As a freshman in high school, I really looked up to Cam not only because of his impressive basketball abilities, but because of his strong Christian leadership that was well-known throughout the community. My freshman year turned out to be the most stressful and hectic year of my life (just moved to Liberty, mom had cancer, was having academic/athletic disappointments), so having Cam as a positive light to look up to was essential for me as a young high school student. I don’t think Cam even knew who I was, but his positive influence really helped me get through my freshman year and gave me an idea of what it takes to be a strong Christian leader on the basketball court and in life.
I’m sure you can think of people in your own life who’ve had a similar impact on you. Some of them probably knew you deeply, while others may not have even known you at all!
The question then isn’t IF we are role models, but rather what KIND of role model are you?
Are you the type of person who lifts people up with your positive words and actions? Or are you the type who brings people down?
Obviously, due to our imperfection, we all fall into each category from time to time . Nobody can be the “perfect” role model and to put that expectation on yourself is unreasonable and impossible to achieve. My prayer, therefore, is that we be positive role models far more often than we are negative ones, and hopefully through our actions we can point people to the one true “perfect” role model: Jesus Christ.
What type of role model are you going to be today? Somebody is watching…