“There is an innate desire within us to be accepted at all costs, so we learn at a very early age to be conformists. We try to look like everybody else, we try to talk like everybody else, we try to dress like somebody else. And whats the end result? We become like somebody else. But something invaluable and irreplaceable is lost when we give into conformity. We lose our personality. We lose our originality. And at some point we lose our soul. Instead of being the one-of-a-kind original we are destined to be, we settle on becoming a carbon copy of somebody else.” Mark Batterson
When most of us think about taking steps of Faith it usually involves doing something massive such as facing a great fear, moving forward with a decision even though we don’t have complete certainty, or obeying God when He challenges us to do something which seems impossible. While all these definitely fall into the walking by faith category there are times when the Lord challenges us to take smaller steps that aren’t as spectacular but bring just as much fear (or more) into our hearts. Few of those small frightening steps keep more people from serving God than being different from others.
People say that peer pressure only affects children or teens in High School but I believe that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We may not all go out to buy the latest clothes but young adults and the older generation alike struggle with a need to feel loved and respected by their peers. This craving for love is a natural desire placed in our heart by God so that it could be filed by Him, unfortunately most of us choose to fill our love cup with the love of others instead. This results in the slow loss of our individuality or willingness to be different than others, any habit or desire that doesn’t fit is quickly eliminated.
The problem with being conformists is we aren’t just eliminating something that keeps us from being accepted, we eliminate unique gifts given to us by God. The Lord desires unity which involves people finding where each can use their specific gifts and personalities for the Glory of God instead of conforming themselves to the mould of popular culture. At the same time you eliminate a powerful tool to share the Gospel of Christ with others.
I have always been an individual who loves doing things in front of large crowds. Even as an introverted child who had a hard time talking to people there was a part of me that enjoyed entertaining others. However it didn’t take long for me to realise there aren’t many entertainers in the world so I would begin denying that part of myself in order to fit in with others. There was a long period when that part of my personality was hidden from everyone because it was so different and didn’t fit in with the popular idea of how a person should act. But over time I realised it was part of the way God created and me and His will for my life, so I decided to embrace my ability to entertain others as a gift of God.
Today at the age of thirty-six I still embrace my unique personality to the point where almost everyone I know thinks I am twenty-five. Of course this doesn’t mean things such as discipline, self control, organisation, or professionalism or forgotten but I allow the personality God has given me to shine through as well. This entertaining part of my life is clearly seen during fellowship nights at friends houses where they all call me JB (short for Johnny boy which I refuse to let them call me). The night usually begins with a board game which is followed by lots of food, laughter, and maybe a movie. I never do win the board game, in fact almost every time I come in dead last but thats okay because I’m not there to play a board game, I am there to have fun with friends and entertain them. Its in these evenings I am able to use the personality and gifts God has given to encourage, strengthen, and teach close friends as we gather around a board game.
My uniqueness also helps me connect with children in the local school system. Currently I am in three different schools and one community centre volunteering with children in my community. The Lord has given me wonderful opportunities to be a Godly influence on these young people, share my faith, and develop close relationships with them. Most of this couldn’t be done If I didn’t use the unique personality and JB gifts God has given (come on only someone crazy will teach twenty-two first and second graders at once). My point is this, most of us have unique gifts or personalities but choose to bury them under mountains of emotional dirt so nobody can ever see them. Let me encourage you to dig up that part of your life and use it for the Glory of God because life is too short to be someone other than yourself.