“I hope you have a child just like you one day.”

We’ve all heard some exasperated parent say those words to an energetic and/or defiant kid in a difficult moment. Maybe your parents said it to you! While the words can mean anything from a mild warning to a serious threat, depending on the parental frustration level, they’re also inevitable. Parents can’t help but pass on at least some traits to their kids. I didn’t realize just how inevitable it was until I had my son, Thomas.

From the moment he was born, I was caught off guard by how much my son looked like me. My pregnancy was filled with daydreams of a son who’d look just like his daddy, but nope, he was a mini Mommy. As he’s grown, I’ve noticed the similarities grow, too. He mirrors the words I say in the same inflection I use. He puts on my shoes and walks alongside me as I complete my daily chores and exercise. Today, as I was taking a long drink out of my water bottle, my son picked up his sippy cup and mirrored me. When I stopped drinking to take a breath, he stopped for a breath, too. When I started up again, so did he. Just like Mommy.

It’s adorable and amusing to see my son act just like me…at times. When he mirrors my less desirable qualities, it’s not nearly as funny. When he gets lost in watching TV or playing on the tablet, I think, “just like Mommy” with chagrin. In raising my son, I realize that someone is always watching. He’s picking up my habits–good and bad–and following along behind me.

Such is also the case as pastors and church leaders. Even when we don’t feel worthy, someone is following us. We are influencing the people around us daily. Sometimes, it’s awesome! We see others grow in their passion for Jesus as they see our passion to serve Him. Sometimes, it’s awful! We might regretfully note that everyone around us is afraid to slow down and take care of themselves, just like we are. Over time, the people we raise spiritually begin to take on our characteristics.

Some of the most challenging words in the Bible for me personally come from Paul, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). They challenge because Christians shouldn’t be afraid of saying those words for themselves. That’s a heavy mantle to take on, though! Whatever leadership role we find ourselves in, pastor or parent, when we make following Jesus our highest aim, we can have Paul’s confidence as leaders. It’s not the path I forge, but the one I follow that makes me worthy.

I pray that each of us would grow in Christlikeness so that we’re not embarrassed or ashamed to have a congregation, business, or family that follows in our footsteps.

I hope you have many “children” just like you as you follow Jesus.

Frances Tuck is a stay-at-home mom to Thomas and a supply preacher. She blogs at justfrancest.com.