the shape of leadership

Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

God called you, so quit trying to be someone else

Andy Smith on October 29, 2021

I don’t think I’ve ever fit in.

I have always been a big guy. In fact, I was taller than my third-grade teacher and probably outweighed her. I stood out in other ways too. I was a mixed-race kid in a predominantly white community. Unlike my friends, I came from a family that received food stamps and government insurance.

I got saved in a Hispanic church, even though my last name is Smith. I pastored a bilingual church before I was fully bilingual. I served as a missionary in a country in which I was a foot taller and at least 100 pounds heavier than practically everyone.

I now serve as the secretary-treasurer of an Assemblies of God Hispanic District — and my last name is still Smith.

I could go on, but the point is that I know what it is like to feel out of place. If you are in ministry, you likely can identify at some level. Perhaps you once felt like an outsider as a new leader in an unfamiliar town. Maybe you’ve felt underqualified in your role, or intimidated by the success of others.

For whatever reason, you have been uncomfortable being you. You have felt like your best isn’t good enough. You may have even wondered whether God called the wrong person.

Perspective Change

I clearly remember the day God helped me see the truth about His unique call for a unique me. After serving for several years as an associate pastor, I was elected to lead the church following the death of our pastor.

The former pastor had founded the church and led it for more than 30 years. He was bilingual, and I was not. He had years of experience in the community, and I did not. He was a recognized leader and a great preacher, and I was neither of those things. I felt inadequate for the task.

I went into the church sanctuary to pray and read my Bible. I turned to a familiar narrative in 1 Samuel 15, where Saul defeated the Amalekites but failed to obey all of God’s orders. I had read many times about Samuel confronting Saul and God ultimately rejecting Saul as king. But I noticed a detail I had somehow missed before.

In verse 17, Samuel said, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel” (NLT).

That phrase, “you may think little of yourself,” cut through my spirit like a knife. I always thought of Saul as a pompous, arrogant jerk, but here Samuel reads his mail and reveals the truth about the king’s inner condition.

Saul was insecure. He was uncomfortable in his own skin. He was filling the position and going through the motions, but he was unsure about whether he really belonged. The disobedience, the monument he made of himself, and the stuff he kept instead of destroying were all attempts to mask the fact that he was scared and unsure of himself.

Most ministers recognize the power
of stories, but do you recognize the power
of your story?

That hit close to home for me. I was living in that same spot, and I was miserable there. As much as that first part punched me in the gut, the rest of the verse dusted me off and helped me grow: “The Lord has anointed you … .”

This served as a reminder that it was never about me. God didn’t call me to be someone I’m not. He called me to obedience.

I think God wanted to remind Saul of that too. God knew Saul’s shortcomings before He called him, but He called him anyway. God knows what you and I are capable of and where we are likely to fall short — and He calls us in spite of those things.

Letting this truth sink in helped me realize God doesn’t want to make me like everyone else. He sees value in my story, and He wants to tell His story through mine. It was God who anointed me. He chose me to use me for His glory.

Embrace Your Story

Jennifer Aaker, a behavioral scientist and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, assigned students to give a one-minute speech on a topic. She then analyzed the results. About 1 in 10 speakers used a story as a part of their presentation; the others simply provided information. Afterward, 5% of audience members could recite a statistic they had heard, but 63% remembered the stories in great detail.

As pastor and author Craig Groeschel says, “Stories stick, but facts fade.”

Most ministers recognize the power of stories, but do you recognize the power of your story? Do you realize God called you and your story? Has it sunk in that you are your story?

God didn’t call just anyone to be the king of Israel. He called Saul. If Saul had been able to grasp that reality, his story might have ended differently.

God didn’t call just anyone to serve where you minister. He called you. He called your past, present and future. He has anointed you to serve, even if you don’t feel like you have everything you need for the job. God intends for you to lean on Him as you fulfill your calling, and He is more than enough.

If we could see our calling as God sees it, we would minister with a confidence that comes from knowing who we are in Him. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

David, who followed Saul as king, understood what Saul did not: God uses those who are willing to be themselves and trust in Him. After all, “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47). When we stop trying to wear someone else’s armor and simply go to the battlefield as we really are — trusting in His power rather than our own — miracles happen. That is when giants fall, and the called step into their anointing. That is when we let God use our story to tell His story. That is when we finally feel like we belong.

For reasons I cannot possibly understand, God called an oversized kid who never seemed to fit in to be a vessel for His anointing. He chose my story to tell His story. So if I try to be anyone other than myself, I’m missing out on the fullness of that anointing and diminishing what God can do through me.

Let God tell His story through you. As the adage goes, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

This article appears in the Fall 2021 edition of Influence magazine.

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