“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
We were doing a show in Indiana. Or maybe it was Illinois, I forget. This was one of the first performances we ever had outside Georgia, and I remember being really excited about playing somewhere so far from home. I looked past the fact that we were essentially the house band for a church youth group on this particular night, and focused on the fact that we were about to rock the good people of Illinois. Or maybe it was Indiana, I forget.
After we were done with our set (which was epic, btw), the youth pastor got up there and gave an invitation. He encouraged the youth to come up front if they wanted to pray about anything. About 25 kids responded and came down front. The youth pastor asked the kids what they wanted to pray about. Their responses blew my mind.
Every one of them – every last one – said they wanted to get involved in music ministry.
Now, I haven’t read many interviews with the Passion band, or with Jesus Culture. Maybe those guys were from Indiana. Or Illinois. Maybe there really is a young worship band out there somewhere who formed that night because of these kids’ response to the invitation.
More likely, though, most of these kids were trying to be something they were not.
When I was growing up, there was still a big push in church circles towards street evangelism. Preachers would get up there and talk about “sharing the gospel”, and that was understood to mean exactly one thing. It was generally expected that everybody in the congregation would go out and become, for lack of a better word, salesmen for Jesus. You were supposed to walk up to strangers and ask them if they’ve been saved. I can just picture the response. “Saved? From what?”. A big deal was made out of those who were really gifted in this area. They were the “soul winners”, and the rest of us were made to feel bad if we weren’t part of their ranks.
Now I do not mean to make light of evangelism. We are commanded to spread the gospel. The Bible is plain as day about it. But something still didn’t set right with me. Here were these extraverted preachers with a real talent for talking to others. They really were “soul winners”. I was not. I was quiet and shy. I understood that we were all made in God’s image. But I couldn’t help but wonder.
Did God make a mistake with me?
The longer I’ve lived, and more time I’ve spent in the Bible, the more I’m convinced that we’re all made in God’s image. But that image looks a little different with each of us. Some of us are going to be the “soul winners”, while some of us are going to be teachers. Or encouragers. My wife’s gift is in being a hostess. It’s taken me years to figure out that 1) it’s Biblical (see Romans 12) and 2) I need to encourage her in that.
I am made in God’s image. So are you. Be who you are. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not.
As difficult as it is for me to get out of my own way sometimes, I’m really trying to live out of that simple truth.
Oh and one other thing: don’t try to make other people be who they’re not. Those preacher dudes were totally right in their passion to serve God. So were the kids in that youth group. In their excitement they were assuming that serving God means only one thing. In retrospect I think they missed that serving God will look different for different people. It takes all kinds. I know it sounds simple, but It’s taken me a long time to figure that out!
A couple of takeaways:
- Spend some time honestly figuring out your giftings. This could be done through trial and error, through prayer and personal reflection, or through taking a test. Once you’ve gotten a sense of “who you are”, try to live out of that place.
- Don’t try to impose your personality on others. Take notice of the disagreements you have with people. Is it because they’re wrong or because they’re different?
Have you ever felt expected to be something you’re not? Do you struggle finding your own role in God’s plan? Do you have any other thoughts or words of encouragement? I’d love to hear about it. Use the comments section below…