Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

It's inevitable.

We all imitate people we like and aspire to be like. It's not a bad thing.

But we're not talking about cheap imitations, here. Often it's just a style or way of saying or doing something more than it's just a direct copy.

Sometimes it is a conscious, intentional thing and sometimes we have no idea we are even doing it.

Singers/vocalists do it all the time (see American Idol).

And preachers do it also.

Every now and then I catch myself using a phrase or "accent" that sounds like one of the preachers I've been listening to lately. Maybe it's just the way I pronounce a word or punctuate a point, but to me it's obvious and a little embarassing. It usually cracks me up when I listen to the recording and realize why I said something in a way that I said it.

But hey, I like to think of it as having a multitude of top of the line preaching mentors. I'm learning from the masters! :)

And I'm not alone. I've heard "whispers" of famous preachers in the preaching styles of a lot of "not-so-famous" preachers, lately. Podcasting just has a way of messing us up like that! But again, it's generally in a good way.

Imitation of style is not really anything new. It used to be that preachers tried to sound like Billy Graham and his contemporaries. Now it's Ed Young, Erwin McManus, Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio and many other great communicators that we are emulating. And again, that's not a bad thing. It helps us to get into a groove and style that becomes uniquely our own over time. (
Sometimes it is weird, though, like when a preacher starts adding an "UH!" to the end of every phrase because they think that's what preachers are supposed to do in their setting.)

And it's a good reminder that creating a "derivative work" is better than just being a copycat.

But we are all influenced by someone.

And we all influence someone else, for better or worse. It's true with preaching, it's true with singing, and it's true with just about everything else in life. It doesn't matter who you are. Preachers, homemakers, computer systems analysts, teachers, administrators, fathers, mothers, friends, get the idea.

The trick is to imitate the right people and be worthy of imitation.

It's sincere. It's flattering. And done in the right way, it's actually biblical. Really.

So, who are you imitating and who is imitating you? Are you living a life worthy of imitation?


Mark said...

Cool post.

I like to imitate people, but I sound so darn different (my TX accent throws everyone off) :O), I am probably the only preson that knows I am imitating someone else! :O) I think I started out wanting to sound like John MaCarthur, then Tony Evans, then Ed Young, then someone else with a British accent, then Chuck Swindoll. But eventually we end up sounding just like ourselves, which is great if we have a nice sense of humility. :O)

What I have found interesting is when you say something and then you hear it repeated it sometime later by someone else (trying to sound like you're saying it - mimicking), it is a huge laff! Sometimes they change little things, and sometimes they repeat it back in a way that makes you understand what you said differently than how you meant it.

Johnny Leckie said...

Ha! I think that last part you were describing is called, "Barney Fife Syndrome!" :-D

By the way, I can do a pretty good rendition of the one and only "Billy -the buses will wait-Graham." I'll have to do it for you the next time we get together for coffee. And that needs to be soon, by the way!

Mark said...

it would be great to get together again. I will send you an email.