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: Join together in imitating me, brothers, and pay close attention to those who live by the example we have given you (Philippians 3:17; ISV). We need people to model behavior for us, to help us understand how to respond to all life has to offer us. The trouble comes when we stop using their example, and start wishing for 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. Living our lives wishing we had something different 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 using the talents and abilities He has given us.
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. 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. Yes, I can find enjoyment in playing basketball and golf, but the significant moments in my life will not be found in these.
It saddens me to watch American Idol. Many of the contestants are trying to be something other than what God has created them to be. They believe happiness is found in being someone else, being something they are not. It breaks my heart to think there are thousands of people who think being a famous singer will bring them happiness. 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 minister 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 minister. 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 begin to understand the life He has planned for 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. For us to find satisfaction with who we are, we must glorify the One who has given us so much. 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 only 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, and he was thrown out. The difference between being praised or being thrown out is not found in our acceptance of the abilities God has given, but in how we use those abilities. God has created us to bring Him glory, and has given us abilities to expand His kingdom in the hearts of people.
What this means is I have to understand what my strengths are and then use them for growing 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. It is through those experiences I have learned 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 I don't place any value on my life, if only I can finish my race and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus of testifying to the gospel of God's grace (Acts 20:24; ISV). Paul recognized that his life only had significance when it was 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 our calling. Our calling is found not only in the Great Commission, but also in the abilities that we have. When we use our talents to carry out the Great Commission, then we have discovered our assignment.
After years of wishing I was someone else, I have finally begun 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 my purpose in life.
A Scripture Passage that has really helped me in this journey is 1 Peter 4:10-11:
10 As good managers of God's grace in its various forms, serve one another with the gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must speak God's words. Whoever serves must serve with the strength that God supplies, so that in every way God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to him forever and ever! Amen. (ISV)
God has created us differently. Each one of us has talents to be used for God’s Kingdom, and when we use them in this manner that is when we discover the life God wants us to have.
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 we start focusing on using our talents to further God’s Kingdom, it is only then we discover the contentment, joy, and meaning we desperately want in life.
- Point to Ponder: Each one of us has talents to be used for God’s Kingdom, and when we use them in this manner that is when we discover the life God wants us to have.
- Passage to Remember: 1 Peter 4:10-11
- Question to Consider: Are you content with the life God has blessed you with?