I know of the head of a particular ministry who spends all his time looking at what others are doing. If he finds someone who is successfully doing something new, he seeks to replicate it. There is no sense of celebration for the other’s success and no way he is going to point his audience to another ministry. His only thought is on what he can do to replicate the ideas of “his rival” in hopes of gaining a portion of their success.

“This person has a blog. I need a blog.”

“This person no longer wears a coat and tie. I am no longer going to wear a coat and tie.”

“This person writes books. I better write a book.”

“This person has a Ph.D. I guess I need one. ”

“This person got a tattoo. I need a tattoo.”

“This person spoke about sex during the sermon. I guess I had better speak on the subject.”

“This person tweets and has a podcast. I don’t know what either of these are, but I suppose I better tweet and podcast too.”

Simply put, there are people who are born, bred, and gifted to stay on the bleeding edge of things, always cutting new grain and finding an audience along the way. But most of us are not like that. Most of us are going to fumble the ball every time we try to catch others’ passes.

Chuck Swindoll once told me to be myself. “Don’t waste your time trying to be someone who you are not. I did it for years and regret it all. It took me a long time to quit imitating others and allow the Lord to work through me, the way he made me.”

(Ironically, I have spent a lot of time trying to be like Chuck Swindoll!)

I think so many of us waste so much time trying to be someone we are not. We try to mimic the success of others. Our eyes are continually on what others are doing, not on what God has for us to do. It is easy to do. It is easy to justify. It is easy to be envious of others, even in ministry – especially in ministry.

Sometimes we look to other churches. Jealousy wells up within us as “success” is seen. At this point, we often go one of two ways, both of them wrong. We either try to do exactly what they are doing and mimic their success, or we spend our time criticizing their methods. Rarely do we celebrate with them. Rarely do we congratulate them. Rarely are we content where God has us.

Why do we do this? Why can’t we just be ourselves?

You are in no better place than when you are spending your time being yourself. Sure, there are many things that you can do to improve and make your ministry more effective. But when your effectiveness is determined by a comparison to others, you have dropped the ball. When your imitation of others is forced and unnatural, you are denying the unique way that God made you. God wants to use you, not you as a clone of someone else.

Remember, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. The eye is not the ear. The hand is not the foot. And you are not someone else. Believe it or not, this is intentional.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    4 replies to "Our Daily Truth: Stop Trying to be Someone Else"

    • Yes, this has often been one of the great banes with certain Western Christianity, not realizing the great depth of the One Body of Christ, both East & West. And yet the Church and Christian theology is certainly not “emergent”, but catholic, apostolic and too Reformed in the biblical sense.

    • edavis

      C M Patton,
      As one who has been in ministry for over 30 years and just now recently started a congregation for the first time, I appreciate your reminder. It is so tempting to mimic other ministries, not just really large congreagtions either. Right now 25 would be a large number to me! Thank you for this post. I am sure I will visit it often! Swindoll was very instrumental in helping to shape my views about the Christian life and ministry. He is a great mentor even from a distance. His study on “The Grace Awakening” was simply revolutionizing for me as a Christian and minister.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Thank you, Michael for this very timely word. I think when I get my eyes too much on others and what they are doing, it’s because I have lost focus on my true priority — which is to stay focused on the Lord– who He is to me, what He is doing in the world and within me. The ministry God has for me, will naturally grow out of maintaining such a focus.

      I’m reminded of Simon, who wanted to buy the power of God with money. Peter rebuked him severely for his sin. It was obvious that his focus was not yet on giving God glory, but on exalting himself or else making money. I guess the question to ask oneself is why does one minister for Christ? It can only be so that His greatness and power and His preciousness is exalted, for in sinful selves we have nothing of true spiritual value to offer anyone.

      All the times I ever really helped anyone or touched them in any good way, it has been only by the grace of God working through me. God help me to remember this, and therefore to spend my best time learning to abide in Him, that I may find my truest self in Him, and thus find my ministry.

    • Eric S. Mueller

      I think you hit on a crucial difference, Michael. You said you’ve spent years trying to be “like” Churck Swindoll. I think there’s a difference in trying to follow the model somebody makes and in trying to replicate the results that person gets. We should all be looking for good models to follow, and in turn trying to set good models.

      Trying to duplicate results seems like more of a cargo cult mentality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.