All of us have heroes, people we want to grow up and be like (or if we've already grown up, just become more like). Some of them are people we know, friends, family members, pastors, school teachers; Others are people we admire from afar, 'famous' people, authors, pastors of big churches, sports people, actors, Michael Jackson. Another fact of life is that some people will want to become like us! That little 13 year old boy who you always say hello to at church might want to become just like you, you might become one of his heroes.

It is quite possible that there are youth in my ministry who want to become like me, a humbling thought, but also a pretty darn scary one! Is this a good or a bad thing? Should I be honoured or troubled by this? After all, I want my youth to become more like Jesus not more like Chris Bowditch.

John Piper recently blogged about this in a blog post titled, Hero Worship and Holy Emulation. Piper is a man who many many people look up to. So it's a good idea to seek his wisdom on the matter. He distinguishes between these two types of admiration:

Hero worship means admiring someone for unholy reasons and seeing all he does as admirable (whether it’s sin or not). Holy emulation, on the other hand, sees evidences of God’s grace, and admires them for Christ’s sake, and wants to learn from them and grow in them.

So for Piper Holy Emulation is ok. And I think he makes his case well from the Scriptures he quotes.

This is a good check-up if you are guilty of hero worshipping some of those superstar pastors in the USA and thinking they can do no wrong. Of course, for those pastors we don't know, hero worship becomes easy. You don't know them that well, so you're less aware of their faults which means your more susceptible to hero worshipping them. I think the same can be true for younger Christians. It's very easy for them to think their Youth Pastor or Senior Pastor is pretty much flawless.

So I think it's important that we model a healthy Christian life that is moving towards becoming more like Christ. If that's how I'm living my life, then it is ok for youth to want to emulate that. As long as they are always been pointed to Jesus through my life and as long as they know that being like me is not the goal, their goal is to be like Jesus.

I also think it's important to realise that it's heart and attitude that they should be emulating, not personality and style. I think hero worship says, I want to preach like John Piper because lots of people like him, where as holy emulation says, I want to grow in my love of God and be really passionate about it and tell as many people as I can about it, like John Piper is. Likewise for my youth, I want them to want to have a heart for their lost friends like I do, to be committed to serving their church, and to be aware of their sinfulness and constantly repenting and asking God to refine them to be more like Jesus, like I do. I need to work on those qualities every day so that my youth who emulate me, have a good model to follow when it comes to being like Jesus.

I don't think I'm prepared yet to say to my Youth Ministry, guys 'be like me because I'm like Jesus' like Paul does in 1 Cor 11:1, but that's my goal, and it should be your goal too!