Being who you are called to be
Oscar Wilde once offered the following advice: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken" the above advice but I wonder how many of us involved in church leadership actually adhere to this? The expectations of those in our congregations and communities, either overtly expressed or inferred, will invariably exert a strong influence on our identity. Many of the characteristics and behaviour we display in church leadership may in fact be the result of accidental programming arising from the expectations of those whose approval we seek, rather than our own character. I am reminded of a time I met with a group of American church leaders, whereupon by the end of the day I had developed an American accent because subconsciously I was seeking to adapt in order to gain their approval.
We band the phrase around ‘just be yourself’, and yet I cannot help but wonder how many of us fear that in being ourselves we could end up rejected or criticised, so instead we try to be someone else. Over the years I have encountered many who have tried to emulate the leadership skills of Bill Hybels, the preaching skills of Rico Tice and the pastoral empathy of Mother Teresa, only to feel like they have failed when they have not achieved any of these. They have needed reminding, as we all do from time to time, that we are called in light of who we are and who we are becoming in Christ.
Trying to be someone else can be incredibly exhausting; it can be a huge drain on our minds and bodies, whilst also being spiritually limiting. It takes a lot of effort to stifle our natural tendencies and create an acceptable image for our environment. The truth is God has created each of us as individuals; no two people are alike, not even identical twins. We are each created for a purpose, and it is not His will that we become carbon copies of others. As I read through scripture I see that God called Moses to deliver the children of Israel, He called Esther to deliver the Jewish people, He called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. God really does know what he is doing when He calls people, and God knew what he was doing when He called you to serve where you are.
We are called in light of our personality, our character, and our gifting. If your church really needed Bill Hybels, God would have called him. But he didn't, God called you – with your hang-ups, your weaknesses and failings. The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 139:14-16 that our heavenly Father really does know what He is doing. So, I implore you, as you plan for your Christmas services, be you! It takes far less effort, you don't have to put on a front and it is acting in obedience to the call of God.