Americans visiting the art museums of Europe often notice that their paintings are almost always hung a good foot taller than in American museums. For years this was attributed to differences in measurement systems, until art historians did some deeper research. Nearly all American art historians are somehow connected to Paul Sachs, much like how most actors are connected to Kevin Bacon. Sachs was an art professor at Harvard who created one of the first academic programs in museum studies. Because Harvard had the only such program, it was not very long until the head of nearly every American art museum and art museum studies program had been one of Sachs’ students. Sachs May have been a giant in the art field, but physically he was incredibly short (less than five feet tall). Because he was a foot shorter than a typical male adult, he hung pictures a foot lower than they did. Because his students imitated his every move, they started hanging paintings at the same height, even though they had never been thought to do so. Because his students came to dominate the American art world, so did their tradition of hanging pictures lower. Thusly, to this day, American art museums hang their artwork a foot lower because of the accidental example set by Paul Sachs.
Think about the influence that Paul Sachs must have had over his students. Not only did they read his books and listen to his lectures, but they so closely modeled their behavior after his that this tradition of hanging pictures low became normative. This should be something all of us men strive for in our lives. Our daily actions should speak so loudly for God that others around us desire to imitate our behavior. Here is something humbling I’ve learned over the years. When I hear people speak about why they began following God, or made a major decision in their life, it is seldom because of a sermon they heard or a book they read. It is because of the Godly example set by someone else. It was because their dad modeled Christ for them, a college friend set an example for them, or a co-worker reached out to them when they needed it most. One of the most powerful forms of evangelism is not a sermon, but rather displaying the character of Christ in all that we do. When we set that example our children, friends, co-workers, and neighbors will begin catching amazing glimpses of God’s love.
Paul puts it like this: 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. Ephesians 5:1-2
How is your life setting a Godly example for others to follow? If it is not, then now is a great time to make a change. As we slowly return to a new “normal” from this pandemic, let us do so by every day setting a Godly example for others to follow.