“Are we seeing a pattern here?” How many times have you heard someone ask this question? Usually it’s referring to observable behavior or recurring events, but we see patterns all around us in many ways.
Some people still use patterns for making dresses and other items of clothing. (Honestly, when was the last time someone you knew did that?) In the arts, we see patterns – rhythms and progressions in music; rhyme and meter in poetry and prose; geometric patterns in paintings, sculptures and photography. There are airplane flight patterns, and good wide receivers know how to run proper pass patterns in football.
Do you remember TV test patterns? They were fixtures in the early days of television, long before 24/7 broadcasting was ever imagined.
One way toddlers learn to talk is by listening to and observing speech patterns of their parents and others. Sadly, experts explore patterns of violence and terrorism.
But have you ever considered how we conduct our lives serves as a “pattern” for others to observe, and perhaps choose to follow?
This happens all the time. A younger sibling watches older sister or brother and emulates their behavior, good or bad. New employees are encouraged to meet with mentors and learn the patterns for success the more seasoned team members have used. Seeking to advance spiritually, young believers look to pastors, Sunday school teachers, or more mature believers to provide a pattern for growing in their faith.
The Bible talks about patterns, explaining they can be a good thing, but can be unfruitful, even destructive as well. So, we’re advised to be diligent to form the right pattern for others, and to select those whose life patterns we copy with care.
Writing to one of his disciples and fellow workers, the apostle Paul wrote, “Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say about you” (Titus 2:6-8, NKJV)
Hebrews 10:24 exhorts us to, “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” The impact we can have on others, both in terms of offering encouragement and giving a pattern for others to follow, can be immeasurable. It’s a sober responsibility.
At the same time, we need remain alert to negative influences – patterns – presented by the world around us which too often refuses to look to God and His Word for guidelines. As Romans 12:2 admonishes, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...” (NIV). The Phillips translation of this verse offers strong imagery: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within….”
Given the many kinds of patterns we encounter every day, the question we need to ask is, where are we finding the patterns we implement for our own lives, and what do the patterns look like that we are establishing for others?
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.