September 15, 2017
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Andrew Suedkamp

Do you catch yourself wishing that you had somebody else’s sense of humor? Do you wish your body resembled less of you and a little more like someone else? Do you wish you could play an instrument or sing like your favorite musician? Do you wish you could preach like Billy Graham or think like Steve Jobs? Do you wish your kids were more aggressive at sports, dedicated to school, or achieving a little more?

We live in a society that seeks to emulate those we deem successful – athletes, academic scholars, musicians, leading actors, politicians, wealthy business leaders; the list goes on and on. From time to time, (although we might not want to admit it), we may wonder a little too much about what others think or strive a little too hard to keep up with our peers.

In Christian circles, it’s not always any different – we tend to glorify prominent pastors, articulate speakers, deep thinkers, singers, missionaries, and more. Not that any of these people or organizations/groups are bad – in fact many are quite good and admirable, but I think there is an unfortunate tendency to overlook the unique purpose that God has for each person whom He specially created. I also think that there’s a tendency to overlook the gentle, humble, encouraging person in the background and focus on those who society says are important and successful.

My son Josh was lamenting some of the struggles he was having with school, sports, and friends and was wishing that he was more like some other kid and less like himself. I realized that with these thoughts that he is actually much like me, and more like them then he realizes. While thinking about these things, I strongly felt the Holy Spirit telling me that God never intended me, or him, to be like anyone other than who He created each one of us to be. God made each of us and we are to praise Him, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made – not made to have the skills or characteristics identical to another, but to be us – and to allow Him to conform us to Himself to accomplish the specific purpose He has uniquely for us, individually and corporately.

As Believers, it is critical we evaluate what our desires and expectations are for our lives and carefully/prayerfully consider whether or not these are our desires or God’s desires. If we are parents, I believe that it is equally critical we evaluate what our desires and expectations are for our children and likewise consider whether or not these are our desires or God’s desires. I see too many people who push themselves and/or their kids to be the best they can be…academically, athletically and socially, and then try to add a spiritual component to each or all of those. That seems the opposite of what the Holy Spirit exhorts us to do in Matthew when we are told to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We are also told that the greatest commandments are to Love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our first-world, Christian societies have too often practiced loving much of what the world loves, and then loving God out of the remaining love we have to offer. Sadly, after the first two, there’s not much left for neighbors, and certainly not the challenging ones!

It is my hope and prayer that as we go forward in our society as believers, we remember that almost all of the heroes in the Bible, very few would have measured up to the standards of this world. Even in Christian circles, it seems that we have plenty of superstardom, enough great messages, enough great music, but we can be lacking in the everyday things that should define the church – those meek, humble people who take the time to be a caring voice, those people who are centered enough on Him to notice those who cross their paths throughout the day, and those who don’t get absorbed in who or what the world says is great and important at the expense of the real, live people who may just need a little friendly interaction or heavenly encouragement through a human voice.

We need to allow God to nurture those qualities in ourselves and in our kids that truly allow us to love Him first and then love our neighbors as ourselves, and also to thank Him that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and to thank, acknowledge, and appreciate those around us who are made in the same manner.

So although it may be human to lament certain aspects of who we are individually, God works best through our weaknesses, and sometimes those weaknesses are only defined that way by the world, not by God. Although it’s good and reasonable to strive to be the best that we can be, or push our kids to do so, it is critical that it comes after we seek Him first and I believe that it’s also very important to remember that God made us in His image, that He made us specifically to be us, and He desires for us to be completely in Him.

(Andrew Suedkamp is a member of the HGE Board and a weekly contributor to our KFIR devotionals)