“Therefore I urge you, imitate me,” the Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 4. It sounds arrogant, but it is an earnest urging—a call to discipleship. This urge is to “call alongside of” or a “beseeching” or an “instruction” from the Word of God. And his exhortation to the Church in Corinth is that they would imitate him. We hear that urging of Paul and we think: “Well Paul thinks he has it all together! Paul sees himself as better than or superior to us!” But that’s not the case at all. This call to imitate is instructive. It is the word of passing a skill down from one generation to another.
Great skills being passed down from one generation to another are lost when not imitated—you can think of the above mentioned ancient technology of road design or even Roman concrete used as a construction material. Through war, plague, and a lack of imitation, concrete and Roman roads—and other technologies and skills—were lost to the human experience.