St. Paul calls on us to be “ambassadors for Christ.” In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we read, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” This ambassadorship is a very important part of being a good role model. We have to be representatives of Christ in our service. Related to our ambassadorship is the great verse in 1 Corinthians 10:23, where St. Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.” This is a great verse for a servant to really meditate on.
We have to be conscious of our visible position as role models, and as a result, we have to be careful in our actions, decisions, and way of life, even though they may not result in sin. If we do not watch ourselves closely, we can become stumbling blocks to the spiritual lives of others. St. Paul sums this up well in 1 Corinthians 8:9, (and also in 1 Corinthians 8:10-13) where he says, “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” At the same time, we cannot be modern day pharisees in our service and we must serve everyone, regardless of their spiritual level. St. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, where he says, for example, in verse 20, “and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law.”
2. Orthodox Heritage –
St. Paul talks about preserving our heritage in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where he says, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” Preserving our Coptic Orthodox heritage is a very important part of being a good role model. It is not enough just to be a “nice” person.
We have to uphold and maintain our Coptic Orthodox traditions, without change. St. Paul says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” There are two main components that make up the Coptic heritage: i) Spiritual, ii) Cultural. Our spiritual heritage is focused upon worship. In particular, spiritual heritage concerns our faith, the Divine Liturgy, church history, early Church Fathers (such as the Desert Fathers of Egypt), Coptic hymns and songs, Coptic art, and relationships.
Cultural heritage includes things such as social gatherings, friendships, Egyptian food, etc… Preservation of faith involves more than believing that Jesus is the Son of God. It also involves the preservation of the Sacraments, preservation of the Divine Liturgy, the history and writings of the early Church Fathers, preservation of the Lord’s feasts and fasts, and other feasts and fasts of the Coptic Orthodox church. Thus, in summary, part of being a good role model involves having deep Coptic Orthodox roots in our service.
3. Leadership –
The church is always in need of good leadership through good role models. A servant, by definition, has been put in a leadership role in the church, and thus we must respect and honor this role by being a good role model. St. Paul talks about this in 1 Timothy 3, where he talks about qualifications of leaders in the church. In 1 Timothy 3:8, St. Paul says, “likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Jesus Christ.”
4. The Watchful Eye –
The Sunday School kids watch and imitate every single move of the elders and Sunday School servants. Thus, we must be aware of this and make an extra effort in being good role models. We want to be the kind of role models that can say to others, “imitate me.” St. Paul mentions this in 1 Corinthians 4:16, where he says, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” Also in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, he talks about the consequences of not progressing in our spiritual life, and he says, in Hebrews 6:12 “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” And in Hebrews 13:7 he says, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”