Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Uniquely You

At some level I think everyone wishes they were someone else.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It means we realize there are areas in our lives we wish were different. Dissatisfaction can motivate us to make changes in the way we live.

 Ravi Zacharias wrote:
One of the most liberating moments in life is when we are able to accept ourselves as God has made us and are free from the shackles of trying to be someone we are not and were never meant to be. We then soar to be the unique personality God has given to each of us. (Cries Of The Heart; pp. 39-40)

Life can be disappointing when you dream about being someone else. 

Believe me, I know. For much of my life I wished I could be someone other than who I was. 

I grew up wanting to be like Han Solo, that dashing rogue from Star Wars. There was also Snake-Eyes, the silent ninja from GI Joe. Last but not least, I wanted to be like the Batman, the greatest super-hero of all time. When I was younger I dreamed about being strong, being a hero, and going on an adventure.

As I grew older, I met people whose life I wanted to have. I was envious of the All-Star. Every sort of game and physical activity seemed to come so easily for him. He was able to excel on the basketball court, the soccer field, and the golf course. I have a competitive spirit, and jealousy set in, because I wanted to win like he does. I wanted to be the All-Star.

Another life I wished to have was the All-American. You know the type, the guy who seems to have everything together. Not only does he excel in the sport he plays, but he excels in the classroom as well. Other people look to him as an example to follow. I wanted to be the All-American.

There is nothing wrong with looking up to people and using them as an example to follow. The apostle Paul actually encourages that behavior; "Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example." (Philippians 3:17; NLT). 

We need people to model behavior for us, to help us understand how to respond to the different situations life throws our way. The problem is not in having role models, but becoming jealous of their lives.

It is hard to be happy with yourself when you wish you were someone different:
  • You cannot take joy in your accomplishments because they are not what you want to accomplish. 
  • You cannot take pride in your talents because they are not the talents you want to have. 
  • You cannot find contentment with your life because you are dreaming of a different life.
This type of living means we miss out on the best God has for us. God has created us uniquely, and the full life He promised can only be found in trusting Him as we live our lives.

Satan deceives us by getting us to believe that we will be happy if we just had what our brother, best friend, or neighbor have. Envy is a life robber of the first degree.

The truth is accomplishments and talents are not what makes us happy. If I had the athletic ability of the All-Star I still would not be happy. That is not what I was created to be. 

Happiness and fulfillment are only found when we are doing what God has created us to do.

The best lesson I learned during the five years I was the youth pastor at the Stronghurst Christian Church is that I don’t have to be anyone else. 

When I first arrived at Stronghurst I tried to be the stereo-typical youth pastor. I tried to be high energy, play crazy games, and come up with big events. I believed that if I could do those things and attract students to come, then I would be a success. The trouble is I didn’t find success or satisfaction in any of those things. I am not high energy, I am not crazy, and my passion is not in planning big events. 

By trying to be someone else, I became frustrated and discouraged.

It took a couple of conversations with my brother to help me understand my problem. Tom encouraged me to look at my talents and to spend 80 percent of my time doing what my strengths are. Focusing on my teaching, preaching, and writing has made all the difference. Not only did it make me excited about what was happening with the students at Stronghurst, but I have also began to enjoy who I am. 

By embracing the gifts God has given me I am able to find joy and contentment in the life He has given to me.

It is not enough to simply embrace the gifts God has given us. 

Using the gift for the wrong purpose will still leave us miserable and frustrated. Our talents must be used for God’s purpose, not for our purpose. If we are to find satisfaction with who we are, we must glorify the One who has given us life. 

This is one of the lessons we learn from the story of the three servants which Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-30. 

The first two servants were praised, not because they accepted their gifts, but because they risked their gifts for the expansion of the Master’s kingdom. The last servant accepted the gift, but he did not risk it or use it for the expansion of the Master’s kingdom. The result was that he was thrown out of the kingdom. 

The difference between being praised or being thrown out is not found in our acceptance of God's blessings, but in how we use those blessings. God has created us to reflect His character in this world. The only way we can do that is to use God's blessings to bless the world around us.

What this means is I have to understand how God has blessed me and how I can use those blessings to help build for God’s kingdom. 

The two go together. 

My greatest successes have happened when I allowed God to work through the gifts He has given me. These experiences taught me that God has not called me to be someone I am not, but He has called me to simply be me.

The Apostle Paul said: 
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts 20:24; NLT). 

Paul recognized that his life had significance when he lived according to his calling. 

The same is true for us. 

Our life will only have meaning and worth when we live it according to God's purpose for our lives. 

We discover our calling by knowing the gifts (talents, skills, education, experiences, resources) God has given us and by understanding our place in the Great commission. Each one of us has a role to play in making disciples of all nations. It is only by working together that we can accomplish this great task.

After years of wishing I was someone else, I am learning to accept me for who God created me to be. 

I am no longer frustrated and discouraged with the direction of my life. I am happy and fulfilled. 

I don’t want it to sound like I never have times of discouragement and disappointment, I do, but overall I am content with my life. I know that I am doing what God has created me to do, and I am fulfilling His purpose for my life.

A Scripture passage that has helped me in this journey is 1 Peter 4:10-11:
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (NLT)

God created us uniquely. 

Each of us have gifts that are able to be used for God’s Kingdom. When we use them in this manner we discover the life God created us to live.

We need to stop looking at other people and wishing we had what they have. 

What they have will not satisfy us. 

God has created us uniquely and what He has given us is meant just for us, just as what they have is meant just for them. When our focus is on using our talents to build for God’s Kingdom, then we discover the contentment, joy, and meaning we desperately want in life.

Embrace the unique you God created you to be.

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