How to be like me. or you.

That is an arrogant title.

It assumes that I am worth being like.

It is possible, however, that some people might want to be like you or to be like me. There is something we know how to do better than most people. There is something that we know how to be better than someone in our lives.

One way to help people who want to be like us is to sell them the information:

“Want to make a million dollars like I did? Buy my course, I’ll tell you all the details.”

We can fill in all the variations of delivery methods and pricing models and strategies for helping people buy more information.

And I have no argument with any of those models. In fact, during my years in higher education, that is exactly I what was part of.

“Want to be thought of as an educated person, able to get a job? Buy this degree. Show up for class, take the notes, pass the test, we’ll give you the diploma.”

While I was delivering those notes and grading those tests, a funny thing happened. Some people watched my life. I told stories on myself in class. We talked outside of class. We talked together. They saw bits of my insecurities and struggles through the cracks in my facade. And maybe, just maybe, they learned a bit about being a person rather than just about giving speeches.

Which leads me to a second way to  help people be like us: give them your life.

coffee mug at the picnic tableLast night we had supper with our son’s soon-to-be-in-laws. We were celebrating Andrew’s college graduation and looking ahead three weeks to Andrew and Allie’s wedding. Allie’s family started talking about the times that Andrew would put things in the freezer and microwave. Not foods, things. Like dog toys and Barbie dolls and stuffed animals. The family would open the freezer and find things.

I was a bit humbled at that moment.

Not humiliated, mind you, but humbled. I wasn’t ashamed that our son had done such things; I was amazed that a portion of my peculiar forms of humor have apparently rubbed off. (I fully understand that the fact that this amuses me shows something of the sense of humor.) More than two decades of listening to me and watching me and living with me have passed on a few things.

This “way of looking at things” life change may come in a package, but I’m pretty sure that it is formed through sustained, consistent, transparent life together. Through the kind of life that is full of interruptions and mistakes and wasted time.

If you buy my course, I can structure it so we never have to talk. You can read the readings, take the quizzes, do the projects. If we do talk, I can limit what you see of me and focus entirely on what you are doing. If, on the other hand, I am interested in making a disciple, someone who understands how I think, who could take my place in my job, in my projects, in the future, I dare not limit what you see of me. You have to be able to see whether what I am teaching actually lives out in the real world. You have to find out how I respond to stress before you will be able to say, “Yep, that works for stress.”

You can have hundreds of students, thousands of fans, millions of viewers. If you can figure out how to have them pay, you will be rich.

You can only have a handful of disciples at a time. And there is no way they can afford what they are getting. But you will still be rich.


4 responses to “How to be like me. or you.

  1. Love this Jon: “You can only have a handful of disciples at a time. And there is no way they can afford what they are getting. But you will still be rich.”

  2. Jon, I really like this idea. It reminds me of the Jewish take on discipleship: it’s more about community and living together than about teaching others. I think that’s why Jesus only had 12 disciples and not 12.000.

  3. Pingback: 8 ways to make a disciple. « Levite Chronicles

  4. Skating on windows at about a 7 foot elevation. Such talent. Spiderman?