I’ve been writing about leading from my values. So far I’ve talked about my values of: Living the God life, Loving my wife first, and Teenagers matter to God.

Today, I want to explore my value: My uniqueness is not a liability.

When I was a kid I had a brown Fisher-Price tape recorder. It had a tape deck (I know I’m old) and a microphone so you could record your own voice. I remember when I was a younger I LOVED recording myself and playing it back for anyone who would listen. Somewhere around middle school, I started to hate the sound of my own voice. If you’ve recorded your voice anytime recently. You’ve probably had this thought, “Do I REALLY sound like that?” As we enter into our teen years, we hear so many messages that make us hate who we are and desire to be someone else. Many of us spend a large amount of our teens and 20s trying to change ourselves to be like someone else. We think that if we look and act like someone else, we will be finally satisfied. In the youth ministry world, we are confronted with a distorted reality of celebrity. We believe the lie that in order to be influential and effective in ministry we need to write books, speak at camps and seminars and be in the in-crowd with youth ministry organizations. I’ll be honest, I’ve wasted so much of my life trying to get to that ideal and it hasn’t gotten me any closer to being a better youth pastor or a more satisfied follower of Jesus.

I am just now starting to become OK with the sound of my own voice. The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. I have seen the years I’ve wasted trying to be someone I’m not and I don’t want to continue down that path. I’ve also seen that when I live according to who I really am I feel more alive and in step with God’s Spirit. I also am much better at loving the students and families in my ministry. How about you, are you trying to be someone you are not?

Genesis 1:26-27 explains it all:
God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; 
male and female he created them.

Do you believe that God created you uniquely in His own image to accomplish His purpose in your life? Why then are you trying to be someone else?

What makes you uniquely you?

  • Your story. No one can replicate your life experiences and testimony and no person’s story is less important than another.
  • Your talents and passions. Do you like long distance running? Can you make killer origami animals? You never know if your passions and talents will resonate with a particular student unless you share them with others.
  • Spiritual Gifts. God gives every believer special gifting in the kingdom. These gifts are used for hospitality, compassion, teaching, shepherding, and much more for the building up of the body. Not every youth pastor has to be a pastor/teacher/evangelist when it comes to spiritual gifts. If you don’t know your gifts, ask people who know you well and see what they say.
  • Your hurts. Your struggles and hardships are not things to be ashamed of. They are ways in which a student will identify with you when they feel weak. From my time in the YMCP I am learning that my weaknesses don’t push people away, they attract people.
  • Your heart. What is it that really gets you fired up? What is one truth that EVERYONE should know? Students are attracted to passionate people. So find your passion and live in it.

Challenge: Sit down and come up with a list of 50 things about you that make you unique and valuable in the kingdom of God. Even your weaknesses can be part of your value and worth. It will be a hard, but worthwhile exercise. I’m going to do this this afternoon.

Finally, don’t waste time trying to be like the woman or man who is on the cover of that book or who has 20,000 twitter followers. They aren’t you. They don’t have the relationships with students that you have. They will never be able to have the same impact with that one student, parent or leader that you have.