Here’s a follow up to yesterday’s post about being yourself as you allow God to use you in His service.
Harold and Ella Mae were sitting on the front porch swing. Harold said, “Ella Mae, I wish that I had the arms of the strongest man in the world. That way I could hold you like you ought to be held.” Ella Mae just blushed. Then he said, “And I wish that I had the voice of the world’s greatest orator. That way I could properly tell you how much I love you.” Ella Mae just smiled. Then he said, “And I wish that I had the softest lips imaginable. That way I could kiss you as tenderly as I want to kiss you.” At that point Ella Mae giggled, moved in close to him, and said, “Harold, why don’t you just use what you’ve got?”
I had only been preaching for a few years when I was asked to preach a revival at a certain church. I went and did my best and even thought that I had done a fairly decent job of filling the pulpit each night. But that church had one member who was a proponent of a style of preaching different from my own. Whereas I have always been more of a teaching preacher, this man liked “fire” in the pulpit. He thought that my sermons needed more emotion, more attitude, and more VOLUME.
So one night, toward the conclusion of the service, this fellow stood up in the congregation and tried to offer me some encouragement. He said, “One of these days Russell is going to cut loose, and I hope I’m there to see it.” Well, that’s been many years ago now and I have to say that I still haven’t “cut loose.” And as for that well-meaning Christian, he died and went home to be with the Lord a year or so ago.
Immediately following that revival night all those years ago, I had a couple of folks come to me and express how angry they were over the man’s remark. Honestly, though, they were more upset than I was. I knew the deal. That guy was simply wired differently than me. It didn’t make him right and me wrong any more than it made me right and him wrong. It was just the difference in people. In the years since, I’ve met other people with his same mindset, but I’ve also met many others who love to hear me preach and think my style is the best. That’s why I never get all upset when I don’t ring someone’s bell as a preacher. It’s also why I don’t try to be someone I’m not in some feeble attempt to suit someone else.
But why am I telling you all this? I’m doing it to help you understand, Christian, that God will never ask you to forfeit your individuality in order to serve Him. To the contrary, He knows how to use your individuality to reach people that other Christians can’t reach. So, Harold, stop pining away for spiritual gifts, natural talents, and developed abilities that you don’t have, and start using what you’ve got. Remember, there’s an Ella Mae out there somewhere who just wants you to be yourself.