Ministry Today | Serving and empowering church leaders

Be Yourself

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to imitate someone else to be successful in ministry.
You are spinning your wheels aimlessly when you alter your God-given mannerisms to imitate others. A leader especially must accept and rest in his or her own individuality. Doing so positions you for a full release of fresh anointing for designated assignments.

Touching people's lives and being a part of making things happen to build God's kingdom has always been a passion of mine. My comfort zone was serving behind the scenes, but God began to show me things He wanted to accomplish through me that I knew would require an emergence from the background. Slowly and cautiously I accepted leadership opportunities, which I deeply value today.

Among the most memorable soils of my initial training ground were my early years as a pastor's wife. In retrospect I believe I tried too hard to meet expectations--primarily my own. I lost my identity by attempting to imitate the attributes of others I admired. I became several clones embodied in one. This precluded my ability for fruitful ministry.

I finally learned to develop new priorities. It was not about being the model pastor's wife, seeking to be an influential leader or being accepted by my peers. Pleasing my heavenly Father became the apex of my life. As a result, an inner peace and contentment have evolved through the years. I have learned how to properly view heroes, mentors and peers.

Heroes are necessary and admired for special qualities or achievements. They inspire you to become all that you can be. This is good, but a danger occurs when you place your heroes on a pedestal. This may cause you to drift away from your course when they disappoint you.

In his book You and Your Network, author Fred Smith says: "Role models help you to achieve the best of your talents. They show you how to link your activities to your passion." You learn how to be what you aspire from role models. They help you determine the character, functions and skills you want to personify. Age difference and level of experience should be considered as you seek to "be like" your role models.

Mentors are wise and trusted counselors and teachers. Some role models are also your mentors. Mentors can be individuals with whom you have no direct contact but rather learn from through consistent observation.

Be open and receptive to the wisdom and valuable experiences mentors can share. But remember that mentors will never replace a consistent and growing relationship with the Lord--it is imperative that you learn to recognize and hear the voice of God for yourself.

Peers are your equals in status. You don't usually choose your peers. Peers, of course, can be a great blessing and source of encouragement. But be aware that at any given level of ministry are status symbols that can exert pressure on you to define your status. Be careful not to get caught up in projecting an "image" that may pressure you to assume a phony persona.

Cutting-edge leaders are ordinary people who have relinquished their flaws and weaknesses to the hand of God. Their self-acceptance comes from the assurance that they are clay in the Potter's hand.

Sure, there is a blessing in store for you when you serve and honor your leaders. And it's right to sow into the dreams of others by sharing your gifts, abilities and tangible means. But neither of these endeavors requires you to minimize your own significance and purpose.

So relax. Be yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a perfect God. He makes no mistakes. When you flow in your own individuality, you will experience an eruption of God-given ideas, dreams and visions.

Barbara McCoo Lewis is the supervisor of women for the Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction for the Church of God in Christ. She oversees the leadership of women in 250 churches.

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