This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword

Questions and Answers | Biblical Role Models

I heard a message that talked about certain biblical characters as models for us. Are we really supposed to look up to human models? It seems to me that the only person we should look up to is Jesus. To do otherwise seems human-centered.

A good role model is a person who shows us how to live, choose well, face suffering (in some cases), and act wisely in this complicated and difficult world. It is true that we sometimes choose role models for the wrong reasons: celebrity, beauty, athletic prowess, or financial success. But I would imagine that most of us do have human role models. When I was younger, I looked up to my teachers. Now I respect people who are committed to the hard demands of faith, who have humility and the ability to live life simply, obediently, and without being infected by the culture. Their examples push me to re-examine my own worries, my patterns, and my choices.

Obviously, Christ is our greatest role model, but Scripture recognizes the influence that people around us, godly role models, can have on us. Proverbs 1:8 speaks of parents as role models: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” In the New Testament, women are instructed to live in such a way that they can train the younger women (Titus 2:3); young men are urged to be “self-controlled” in order to be “an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:6). Luke 6:40 talks about the role of teachers and their importance for spiritual formation of their students.

Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his example as he followed Christ (Phil. 3:17–21). From a Roman jail, he commended Timothy as an example: “He has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Phil. 2:22). About Epaphroditus who had fallen ill and was sent back to Philippi, Paul writes, “Honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ” (Phil. 2:29). In Romans 16:1–2, Paul asked that Phoebe be given “any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”

God, in His great grace and understanding, commanded Christians to live in community. Because He gave us His Son as the greatest model to look up to, we can better choose earthly mentors and become a godly role model for others.

Find Questions and Answers by Month