Remember the old TV commercials that had the slogan, “I want to be like Mike”? I not sure of what they were for, maybe Air Jordan shoes, but I think it was Coca-Cola. The point is, they held up a popular and successful sports icon in Michael Jordan and encouraged us to be like him. At that time, everyone wanted to be like Mike (Jordan, not Mikes like me). Another famous basketball player who took being like Mike to a whole other level was Kobe Bryant. He modeled himself after Michael Jordan like no one else. He had a great deal of success doing so, though now, personally, I think the Lakers would be better off without him.
All the sports talk aside, we all have people we look up to and are inspired by. Whether it’s an athlete, a politician, an historical figure, a celebrity, or even another Christian. We tend to model the people we admire. We might pick up on certain mannerisms, a style of dress, or I’ve noticed with preachers, a way of talking and moving our hands. Sometimes, it’s in the way we treat people, or how we make decisions — not always making decisions like they would, but making decisions that we think will get us to where they are. In all this mimicry, we force ourselves into a mold that was never meant for us, rather than allowing God to shape us into the person he intends us to be.
I’ve pastored Faith Community Church for almost twelve years now, and I often see other pastors’ ministries and measure my ministry, and myself, against what God is doing in them (which, if we’re honest with ourselves, is not always accurately represented in their description). I’m kind of a goofy person. I have a goofy sense of humor and most people who have known me a little while simply can’t believe that I ever served the Marine Corps because I just don’t fit that stereotype. I don’t have to hop around like an over-caffeinated Francis Chan, and don’t have be a excited, arm-raising Matt Chandler, and I don’t have to be a harsh and heady John MacArthur. My calling is to be Michael. “If I want him to … what is that to you? You must follow me!” (John 21:22) God has placed me here in my setting for His purpose. Whether I understand it or not, I am the one God chose for right here, right now. Whatever I have, that’s what is needed. And the same goes for you.
You are what God wants. He doesn’t want you to be “like Mike,” He wants you, and he wants you to be like Jesus. He chose you for your family because you are what your family needs, with all your quirks, weaknesses … and strengths — yes, it’s time to admit you have them, and it’s an even better idea to name them. He chose you for your job because its what you have to offer that he wants for what he is doing there. He chose you for your friends, for your church, for your neighborhood. Acts 17:26 says that God “determined the times set for [us] and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.” If your too busy trying to be someone else, then those people among whom God has placed you may not find him. Get comfortable in your own skin. Yes, the gospel brings transformation and transformation is the evidence of true salvation. And that means that God is taking the broken, twisted, perverted and corrupted you and making you new, into the creation he intended you to be.
We have polluted ourselves with our own ideas of what we should be like. Thousands of children are being gender confused because we think we’ve come up with a better definition of manhood and womanhood and if someone doesn’t measure up to it, well, they must be something … different, and we’ll help them figure out what it is. We’ve corrupted our thinking and ourselves and this is why we are called to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We need to stop letting the world and all its perverse, self-serving ideals convince us of who or how we are to be. Only God can answer that great question of “who am I?” and bring freedom, peace, and power to our lives. We will never be effective — truly effective, eternally effective — in anything until we live as who God has for us to be. That means our walk with Jesus must be our own. We must hear him for ourselves and obey him out of the desire of our own hearts, not follow blindly by someone else’s direction and live vicariously through someone else’s faith. Others can be a help: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). But others are not our pattern.
Take some time to sit alone with God and find out who you really are. Let him love and strengthen the real you. Let him make you whole.