Maybe you were like me as a Jr. High student and you wanted to be “cool.” Being “cool” looks like a lot of different things in a lot of different places, but I think most Jr. High kids want to fit in, make friends, and be “cool.” This isn’t really limited to Jr. High, sometimes I still want to be “cool,” but I think Jr. High is the birthplace of trying to look and be something that we are not!
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t really “cool” in Jr High. You’re probably not surprised. I was a short, scrawny kid with a big mouth, little focus, and average athletic ability. I would roam around the halls looking at the cool, athletic kids with the pretty girl friends thinking to myself “What do I need to do to be like them? What do I need to wear? How do I need to talk?” Maybe you are like me and have asked yourself some of these questions before. It wasn’t till about six months ago that I began to realize that not a lot has changed since Jr. High. I am still asking those kinds of questions.
I eventually retired my dreams of ever becoming the Superbowl MVP or dating the prettiest girl in school, but I never really gave up those questions. As we grow up, we tend to ask those questions in a more mature, realistic way. It is not longer “What do I need to do to be cool like them,” but “what do I need to do to be successful like them? What do I need to do to get attention like them? What do I need to do to make money like them? How can I get these people to like me? What do I need to do to get that job?” I don’t think these questions are bad to be asking yourself. In fact, I encourage you to ask questions about yourself and other people, it helps you grow. But, in the midst of asking these reflective questions, don’t make the mistake of trying to become something or someone that you are not.
If you don’t know, I am a preacher. I love what I do and I love to teach the Bible. Because I love it, I want to get better at it. Shoot, I want to be the best! I am constantly listening to my favorite speakers to pick up tips, strategies, movements and vocal patterns that I think will make me a better speaker. It wasn’t until one day in particular when I was standing in front of a group of people that I realized, this isn’t me. I was speaking out of character and I felt restricted in what I actually wanted to say and do. It felt unnatural. It felt like a performance. It was in this moment that I realized, I’m not being who I am. This isn’t me. I had compromised my personality and character in the name of wanting to be successful. I wanted to have the theological depth of Mark Driscoll. I wanted to have the charisma of Steven Furtick. I wanted the intellect of Timothy Keller. I wanted to be as prepared as Andy Stanley. I wanted the influence and authority of Billy Graham. But where I failed was I wasn’t trying to learn from them, I was trying to be them. I wasn’t learning from their wisdom, I was just copying their methods, because what they did worked. If Tim Keller studies for 10 hours, then I will study for 10 hours. If Steven Furtick shouts every other minute, then I am going to shout every other minute. Then it hit me, “Why are you trying to be someone else?” I would rather be authentic and struggling than fake and successful. The world doesn’t need another Mark Driscoll. The world doesn’t need another Tim Keller, Steven Furtick or Billy Graham. I am not down playing who they are, but we don’t need another one. The world doesn’t even need another Jesus. He did what He was sent to do. The world needs you. The real you. The authentic you. The world needs you to do what you were created to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly tapping into the wisdom and knowledge of other successful people who are doing what I want to do. I am constantly reading and studying the “best practices.” I am always growing, but I am never compromising the uniqueness of who I am. If something doesn’t feel natural, if something doesn’t line up with what I believe, or if something doesn’t sit well with who I am, then I don’t do it in the hopes of becoming a success.
This hasn’t just happened to me on the pulpit. I think this happens in a lot of our everyday lives. Because I want certain groups of people to like me, I will act in a certain way. I am not talking about being the best you can be, I am talking about faking to be something that you are not! How many relationships have ended 6-months down the road because somebody turned out to be someone completely different? Life isn’t a masquerade, just be yourself.
I’ve spent a large percentage of my life trying to be someone else and avoiding developing who I actually am. In the past six months, I have really been intentional about becoming who I am and doing what I want to do. As a result, I have seen more success in nearly every area of life. You may not really be who you’ve have been, but today is the day to become who you are. I would rather fail at everything I love and was created to do than succeed in something someone else wanted me to do.
The great thing about doing what you were created to do is that you can’t fail, because it is what you were made for. It will be hard and we will mess up, but it is what we were made for! Everyday I am striving to be more like Jesus, but I am not striving to be him. My purpose isn’t to die on a cross for the sins of humanity because that has already been fulfilled. I have my own purpose and my own plan and so do you! I was born to preach, it is where I am most passionate and where I come alive. What were you born to do?
“If you were created to be the President of the United States, don’t settle for becoming a mechanic. If you were created to be a mechanic, don’t settle for becoming the President of the United States.”
Don’t become something you’re not in the name of “success.” In 50 years I am not going to wish I had traded more stocks, fixed more cars, or achieved more political position because that is not what I was born to do. I was born to preach. I refuse to settle for anything less than my purpose. When you find your purpose, chase it with everything that you are because being who you were born to be will be your greatest success. We should always be looking up to somebody but never lose sight of who we are. Find yourself. Be yourself. The world needs you!