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The Power of Imitation

As both a Children s pastor and father I have learned that all children possess the great ability to imitate those around them.   They ll imitate the things they see and hear, and even imitate the things you think they haven t seen or heard.   A month or so ago, my wife posted these pictures on her blog and I wanted to revisit them.

To set the scene, the boys and I were outside in the backyard playing a game of twirl.   It s a simple game really.   I grab them by their hands or ankles and twirl them until I get sick.   They ask to do it again and again and again.

However, my daughter will have none of that action. She keeps a safe distance from me, and tells me over and over, I do NOT want to do that Daddy!   I m a good Dad, so I let her be and eventually stumble into the house trying to figure out who is more wore out, me or the boys.

When I get inside, I find Lauryn doing this:


The great power of imitation at work.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he Gave

When I give I am simply imitating the one that gave that great and wonderful gift.   My gifts of service, money, or time don t in any way compare to the great gift of God s only son, Jesus; but they should be a reflection of His heart when He gave.   God gave to us because he loved us.   In our desire to imitate our father in heaven, we give because we love those around us, we give because we love God, and we give because he first loved us.   Giving in it s very essence is much like my daughter spinning the bear in the living room.   The bear is much different that what I was doing, but in essence it is the very same thing.   What a great thought that my Heavenly Father set such a great example of giving for me.   As my daughter unashamedly twirls the bear in the living room, I pray and hope that I can be as great a mirror of what God has done for me.

{This is a little adaptation of something I did at Trinity Church on Sunday, April 19th.}

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. westcoastcm · May 4, 2009

    Seriously, I LOVE these pics and their story.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kenny · May 4, 2009

    Don’t you have any trees in your yard?

  3. Scott Wiley · May 4, 2009

    You are so right. This hit home for me when I heard my words coming out of a preschooler’s mouth. While the words were affirming and not degrading, the experience made me much more aware that what I say and do is being observed and imitated. Thanks for the great words and great pics.

  4. Matt McKee · May 4, 2009

    I think Jonathan’s tree is behind him. :)

    Nice post.

  5. sarahthompson · May 4, 2009

    Great analogy
    Cool pics too!

  6. Sam · May 4, 2009

    If this post was about the power of intimidation I would more to contribute.

    Seriously though great post.

    BTW how small is that tree if a skinny man can cover it completely, I’m just say’n

  7. Kenny · May 4, 2009

    I like your girl’s camos. Camos and bunnies are a nice combination.

  8. Ally · May 8, 2009

    Preach on Preacher! That is good stuff. I want to be that mirror as well. Unfortunately, I can often see my girls imitating the not-so-wonderful things that I do/say. As I press into Him and allow His love to overflow, His presence will be much more evident and imitatable in me. thanks for this reminder Jonathan!