Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yep, be who you are

I'm amazed at the things God does in our lives to confirm His word to us, and to encourage us in it. My last post, "Be yourself - You can't be what you're not," was essentially a matter of me preaching to myself. I needed to be encouraged to be who I am. It's easy for me, as I know it is for others, to slip off into that people-pleasing mode and into the lifeless mode of faking a religious life rather than living by the fullness of the life of the indwelling Christ.

I was browsing through my past personal notes a few minutes ago and I sat there with my eyes wide open and my jaw almost to the floor as I read something I had written over a year ago that soooo relates to all this! I have not read this since that time, as far as I remember. What caught my attention in re-reading this was the very last sentence (see the end of the quoted section below). It's a phrase that's been woven into my life and it has served for many years to keep me focused on who I am and not on who I'm not!

"God doesn’t ask me to be “on fire” for Him. God doesn’t ask me to be “radical” for Him. Rather, before I was born again He told me I must die, and then He could come and raise me up to a brand new life and join His life with mine. So the life I now live is not a matter of me being radical or on fire for Him, but rather His radical life expressing itself through me – in whichever way He wills. The life I live in this earthsuit I live by faith. I most certainly don’t live by my own might or power or by my own attempts to live a powerful or radical life, or even a sincere, dedicated life. That sounds “unChristian” to many people, I know! But as I let go of my own attempts at living any part of the Christian life, another Life takes over, with more power and dedication than I could ever come up with.

The gift of God that is in us, which Paul reminds Timothy to “fan into flame” (2 Tim 1:6), isn’t necessarily going to have an outward appearance that’s radical or sensational or impressive to other people, even to other Christians. Understand, I’m writing from the perspective of an introverted person who has tried in the past to live the extroverted, radical, effervescent Christian life, trying to prove to others that I’m “on fire” for God. I had faith – deep faith – and looking back, I can now see that my true faith was expressed in ways that weren’t always noticeable by others.

But since I had come into a church culture that seemed to take greater notice of those with more visible and expressive demonstrations of faith, I prayed and tried very hard to have the same passion as others and for the Spirit to manifest Himself in me with the same sort of outward demonstration. Again, I now see that I really did have a deep faith, but at the time I didn’t think that was true. I wondered when the time would ever come that my faith would grow and I could truly be more expressive with my faith. When would I ever truly be “on fire” for God?

Thank God that I finally came to an understanding of who I really was. Or better said, I came to a better understanding of who Christ is in me.

The way that the life of God will be expressed in each of us individually will be different.

You can’t be what you’re not."

Back to the present. I was watching Joseph Prince on TV last night. He is a great encourager in our identity in Christ and in God's love for us. Watching him, I was tempted to think such thoughts as, "Man, I'd love to get out there and preach like him. He says all the stuff I'd love to say to people and he has such a friendly and outgoing personality that easily draws people in to listen to what he has to say."

But I quickly shook off those thoughts because I am not Joseph Prince. I am not Billy Graham. I am not (fill in the blank). I can't be what I'm not and I don't want to be what I'm not! If I live my life focused on wanting to be like anyone else - which really is nothing less than envy - then I miss out on being who I am. Can I let someone else's personality rub off on me? Sure! Can I learn about myself by watching the "ways" of other people? Definitely! When I was new in radio (14 years ago), I listened to a lot of other DJ's on the radio and in a sense I tried to copy a lot of their styles. But eventually I found out what was "me" and what was not "me" and I developed my own way of communicating with others over the airwaves.

Today I watch other dads interacting with their kids. I watch my coworkers doing their work. I pay attention to the styles of other writers. Many times I glean great things from others by watching them. But in the end... I am what I am and that's all that I am, and you are who you are! And that's good!


  1. Great notes, Joel!! Very inspiring!!!

    I'm with you with Joseph lol! I was watching him this morning (I have his show set to record on DVR). I was re-watching the 2nd episode on the root of condemnation and he was just slamming it out and I told God "I want to preach the Gospel loudly and proudly like that!!" I don't like the prosperity stuff but man oh man, God gave him a mouth to speak the Good News of Jesus Christ!

    I bought his book, Destined to Reign today (along with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and so far it's fantastic! I had been feeling heavy accusation all day and to come home and get my mind renewed on God's love for me is like I always say: "A drink of cold water on a hot day".

  2. Another very encouraging post, Joel.

    "The way that the life of God will be expressed in each of us individually will be different."

    What a great reminder. We're all uniquely created and it's okay to be me. I do forget at times.

    Like you, I've tried to be like other people and I've envied their gifts and abilities. It always surprises me whenever I find out that some people want to be more like me. It seems we're never really satisfied with who we are.


  3. Matthew,

    I've seen a few Joseph Prince videos on youtube and I've enjoyed what I've seen. Like you, I'm hesitant with the prosperity stuff. I had never actually seen him on TV until last night. I knew he was on TV sometime, somewhere, but I had never seen him. My wife was flipping through the channels, looking for something to watch as she snuggled on the couch with one of the kids and she came across his program. I watched it for a little while but was too tired... so perhaps I should set my recorder as well! I was very uplifted by what I heard.


    Being content with who we are can be such a hard thing sometimes! I think it's because we don't see ourselves as our Father sees us, and we see Him doing great things in others and we think, "if only I could be like that person."

    The realization that I "can't be what I'm not" has led me to seeking Father as to who I am. I've grown in understanding my identity in Him that has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I do or don't do, and I've grown in understanding my own personality and the ways that God works in and through me that is unique to who I am. There's a lot of freedom in that!

  4. Yeah, his program doesn't come on until 5AM on ABC Family on weekday mornings. Thats why I set the DVR ;)lol

  5. Pastor Prince is the senior pastor of my church and I thoroughly enjoy his messages. There's always some new bible revelation you can learn about. Real cool.