Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in December 2015. I enjoy the Star Wars movies and plan to see the new one when it opens in theaters. The series has been filled with interesting characters that have become a part of our culture. Who hasn’t tried to talk like Chewbacca or Darth Vader? But have you noticed that many of the characters are clones – exact replicas of another? I don’t think I knew what a clone was before the Star Wars movies.
Movie trivia aside, I believe there are far too many clones in the ministry today. While it is helpful to study leadership and successful people, simply cloning another person’s ministry and methodology falls short of what God intended. Often what works in one community does not work in another. So many factors vary from state to state and from region to region. What one church does may not even work for another church in the very same community. I believe this is because God wants each of us to be ourselves and to use our own unique gifts and experiences. When you consider the vast array of unique animals and plants – there are over 300,000 species of beetles for goodness sake – you recognize that God is vastly creative and has a purpose for everything.
The problem with being a clone is that you rob yourself of the purpose for which God created you. I believe that God uses different leaders with different experiences, abilities, and personalities to reach all different kinds of people for his family. God did not make a mistake when he made you to be you. He formed you with your experiences, background, gifts, and personality to fit a specific role in his kingdom. God loves variety and he uses unique people and churches to build his kingdom.
The question we must answer is this: do I want to be a voice in the wilderness or an echo in the desert? God made you to be a voice for him, not an echo of someone else. Without your unique voice some people won’t be reached or ministered to in a meaningful way. There really is a purpose for your life and church. Even though there is only one unique message – the gospel of Christ – there are many different personalities and ways that God uses to bring people into the church. That is why you must be you!
Here are a few things to consider about your own uniqueness:
1. Get in touch with being you. Each community is different so learn your particular demographic and minister accordingly. Don’t be a clone. Do what God has called you to do. Even churches in the same community serve different people and different needs. There certainly are common needs among all people including the need for the gospel, a growing relationship with Christ, Christian community, the opportunity to exercise their gifts through serving others, and the need to be loved. But you must embrace your particular gifts and personality traits and use them for building God’s kingdom where you are. God thought it was important to make you who you are so believe in the blessings God has given you and use them for his sake.
2. Simplify for greater impact. Being a good leader requires that you hone your vision. Don’t try to do everything. Focused light can form a laser that cuts through steel. Diffused light is like a flashlight that barely lights up a dark room.
3. Give yourself permission to do it differently. In a world where everything is shouted on social media it can be difficult to sift through that which is legitimate and that which is merely hype. Your background and tradition can put shackles on you if you allow it. Give yourself permission to break the mold of past experiences and expectations. Use your past but don’t live there.
4. Don’t feel guilty about it. Once you have decided to become a voice rather than an echo don’t feel guilty about your choices. To this day I have to fight feelings of guilt when I hear about a church that is doing a kind of ministry that we do not do. You can’t do everything, so do not feel guilty about what God has called you to do.
5. It is ok if not everyone agrees with you. Not everybody outside your church is going to agree with your choices, ministry style, or philosophy. That is OK. My dad used to tell me that if somebody was kicking me in the tail it meant that I was out front and they were behind me.
Our world needs more leaders who will embrace their own uniqueness. Be you. Determine to use your gifts, experiences, and personality to make the greatest possible contribution to the cause of the gospel. You will be far happier and more effective if you do.