When I was a little kid, everyone looked up to sports figures as their role models. I remember looking up to Walter Payton, Mike Schmidt, and Julius Erving. I had a life-size poster of Julius Erving in my bedroom growing up that said, “How do you measure up to a classic?” These guys weren’t perfect. In fact, they all made mistakes, but as far as I can tell, they realized and accepted that they were role models. They knew that thousands of kids were looking up to them as examples.
More recently, many sports figures reject the notion that they are role models. Charles Barkley was known for his statements rejecting the role model tag. Many professional sports players today are in the news for breaking the rules and breaking the law, instead of breaking records and breaking down barriers. I realize that this isn’t true of every sports figure today, but it saddens me that kids don’t have the same role models that they used to have in the professional sports world.
So where else should we be looking for role models?
Hopefully, kids are looking at their teachers, their parents, and leaders in their communities and churches. Adults need role models too! We need bosses and business leaders we can look up to. We need men and women who can set an example worth following. We need couples in our lives who demonstrate commitment and love. And we need Christians around us who will point us towards Christ.
I’ve been blessed over the years to have many role models. To list all of them would be impossible, but there are a few that come to mind:
- Ray and Joann Rivera – They were youth leaders in my high school youth group. They set a great example in their marriage and in their individuals spiritual journeys.
- Wes Kennedy – Wes was an elder at our church and a community business man who consistently demonstrated the values of working hard and looking out for others.
- Jeff and Glynis Murphy – We met the Murphy family during our first year of marriage. They were role models in the way they lived out their marriage. They taught us and showed us the importance of regular date nights and times away. They also introduced us to the Family Life Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. (See my post from a couple of weeks ago for more about this.)
- Craig Fischer – Craig has been my boss for many of the 16+ years I’ve worked for Siemens. He is another example of someone who works hard, who values employees, and knows the importance of family.
- Frank Chiapperino – Frank was the small group pastor at the church I attend. He showed me the value of reading, of writing, and of leading with excellence.
- My parents – Faith and family were lived out in my home growing up. Believe me, it wasn’t perfect, but I saw how God could still use us despite our imperfections. I learned the importance of church community participation as it was clearly modeled by my folks.
It’s so important to have people like this in our lives. We need role models who are worth following. We need to learn from people like this, so we in turn can be role models for those coming behind us.
While sports figures and celebrities shy away from the label of role model. This is a title I want in my life and a label I want to earn.
Who is your role model? Are you a role model worth following?