Be imitators, not duplicators

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, February 5, 2020

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

My daughter bears my resemblance. She is my only daughter. She shares my love for green olives. Her favorite comfort foods are soup, salad and crackers, much like her mother. She often raids my collection of music and has Lauryn Hill on repeat playing “Lost Ones” from her bedroom. She is gifted with putting thoughts to paper, as I am. She is quite the storyteller. Whenever we are together, we are often reminded how much we favor one another.

Occasionally, I have purchased identical clothing items for the both of us. Yet, we rarely wear them at the same time. We have had several conversations about how we think we would not like being an identical twin. Jenesis and I agree that we do not like duplication.

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Recently, I was listening to a local influencer give a speech about the power to motivate and inspire. She said, “the evidence of a real leader is that he or she is able to duplicate themselves.” The statement was thought provoking. After some time of considering her words, I reasoned that I do not agree.

What have I accomplished if I raise my daughter to do exactly the same things that I have done such that she is only regarded for being another me? The world does not need another me. As her first mentor, the best thing I can do for my daughter is to live a life that she finds worthy of imitation yet lives out my teachings such that she has her own identification.

There is a significant difference between imitation and duplication. Rather than explain the apples and oranges of the matter, I will get to what matters most. I believe that your imitators are the reflection of your character, and duplicators are a reflection of your work. Which would you rather have?

Ephesian 5:1-2 reads, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (ESV). Notice that the qualifiers for being an imitator of God have to do with matters of the heart — love, sacrifice and offerings. As children of our Heavenly Father, we want to live so that people do recognize that we resemble Him but not by facial recognition but by heartprints. The word of God says that they will know that we are followers of Jesus by the love that we show to others (John 13:35). When we are truly leading a life that people want to be identified with, it is because something about you gets the attention of their heart.

Duplication first gets the attention of the eyes. Imitation gets the attention of the eyes also, but in order to become a follower, in order to disciple someone, things begin to change within a person that you may not see, and those changes are what bring about unique identity. Duplicates are not unique; they are mere copies. It is easy to repeat what you have watched someone do, but can you live a life that motivates someone to pursue the image and character that you pursue?

We should not be inspired by so-called leaders who have created mini versions of themselves. God is the Creator, and we are a beautiful array of many versions of His greatness. He could have made us duplicates, but instead He elected to make us distinctly linked by His image. May we be imitators of Him and not of flawed men.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.