Do what you do best, pastor: be you.

Pastor, you have not been called by the Lord to be Abraham or Moses, David or Jeremiah.

He did not call you to be David Jeremiah, either.

Not Charles Stanley, or Warren Wiersbe.  Not Mark Driscoll, Stephen Furtick, Andy Stanley, or Louie Giglio–and not their clone.

Speaking of Louie, he says, “You are not a reprint or a lithograph. You’re a one-of-a-kind, original creation of God.”

What a marvelous creative inventive (someone get Roget’s Thesaurus down and finish this list!) God we have.  Billions and billions of human beings, no two alike, each one an original! Each one known by Him, and each loved, with a unique place in His divine plan.

Mull on that a while.

He has called you to be you.

God has a place for you, a plan for you, and hope for you.  In order to fill that role and fulfil that purpose in the universe, you must be the “you” He created you to be.  And if you are not, something in the universe is never quite right.

Be yourself. That’s His plan.

It sounds so simple. But that, I submit, is what drives you to distraction.

In your better moments you wonder, “How could He want me in His family and serving Him, knowing me as He does? I am such a sinner, a failure in so many ways. And God knows this!  After all, doesn’t the Bible say, ‘He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust”?”

Yep. That’s in there. The Lord inserted that line in Psalm 103 and He means every word of it.

The Lord knew He was getting no bargain when He saved you and me.  He is under no illusion about any of us.  We are made of humble stuff.  Dirt, to be exact.

When we sin, the only one surprised is us.  God is never surprised by anything, least of all by us.

And yet, He loves us and redeems us and calls us and accompanies us. He indwells us and sends us and precedes us and uses us. He undergirds and overshadows us.

When we sin and repent, He forgives and cleans us up and sends us back out to try to get it right this time. And is willing to do it all over again the next time, and the time after that.

How amazing is our God.

Little wonder Scripture makes so much of His grace and mercy.

Little wonder God’s people through the centuries have written countless songs to celebrate His magnificence and His lovingkindness.

There is no One like Him in all the universe.  He is infinitely more than we could have wanted or expected in our fondest dreams.

And yet.  He uses the likes of us.

“How odd of God to use the Jews,” said poet Ogden Nash sometime back.  No argument there, but odder still is that He would use flawed weaklings like you and me to do such amazing things as mankind sometimes does.

Weak and yet powerful, that’s us. Wonderful and shameful.  Amazing and amusing.

Humanity is Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein and Billy Graham, but also Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.  Such extremes.

We concede (and rejoice) that humanity is one incredible act of an Almighty God.  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” said the Psalmist (Ps 139:14).  And he was right.

We have been made “a little lower than the angels,” says Psalm 8:5.  Knowing what we do about the capacity of man for achievement, we sometimes think, “But not much lower.”

But yet. This human with such potential for greatness does the most despicable things.

How then, one wonders, could such incredible creations made in the image of God with such possibility and such potential be so cruel to one another, so insulting to a Holy God, and so dead-set on destroying this earth, the gem of the known universe?

We are such sinners. Nobly made and wonderfully planned, but feeble in our response and often disgusting in our service.

“He is mindful that we are but dust.”

As soon as we get the focus off ourselves–“How wonderful I am!”– and start appreciating His grace and mercy, God can use us. But not until.

Nothing interferes with the work of the Spirit in us like our putting too great a value on our own strengths and talents, our own specialness.  “Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me….”

“Not to think more highly of oneself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3).

Finding the balance in our self-esteem seems to be the lifework of most of us. Think too little and we toss life away. “It’s worthless anyway.”  Think too highly of ourselves and we want to crush others in our drive to feed this monstrous ego. “I’m  number one!”

Jesus said, “If you being evil know how to do good things….”  There is an even-handed analysis from One who knows.

Our heart is evil but we still get some things right.

God is not pleased when we try to remake ourselves in the image of anyone else, much less our favorite preacher.

Pastors attend a conference where some pastor tells what he did to turn his dying church around, or how he started a church from nothing and today they are the largest congregation in the state, and they come away with the impression they’re supposed to do something that feels really fake: That they are supposed to be that guy.

We come home feeling leaders expect us to do what that celebrity achiever did.  Even though nothing about us is like them.  Our situation is different, our churches not even remotely similar, and we ourselves are as unlike those guys as it’s possible to get.

You might as well try to pass yourself off as a member of the Duck Dynasty. Or a Swamp People.

Not you.

Be yourself, friend.

That’s God’s plan for you and me.  He made us unique for a reason: His plans for us are like those for no one else.

I enjoy pointing out to those considering becoming disciples of Jesus that if they do this, God will do something new in the universe: He will make them new and will make them into originals.  They will not be like their favorite preachers or teachers or anyone else.  They will be themselves.

And, may we say before closing this subject for today, for us to disdain what God has done and is doing in us is to insult Him.  To honor Him, we say, “Father, whatever your plans are for me, I want to cooperate and be found faithful.  So, let’s go forward, please. Do your thing in this small life.”

Be glorified in me, O Lord.

One thought on “Do what you do best, pastor: be you.

  1. Another post filled with wisdom, Joe. I remember a warning from one of the books I read back in my seminary days: if we try to copy another preacher we are more likely to imitate his weaknesses (peculiar idiosyncrasies and mannerisms) instead of his strengths.

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