In his book “Criswell’s Guidebook For Pastors,” W.A. Criswell, the longtime pastor of 1st Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, offers the following illustration:
The animals had a school. The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying, and swimming. All the animals took all the subjects.
The duck was good in swimming and fair in flying. But he was terrible in running, so he was made to drop his swimming class and stay after school in order to practice his running. He kept this up until he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable. The others (including the teacher) were no longer threatened by the duck’s swimming ability. So everyone felt more comfortable — except the duck.
The eagle was considered a problem student. For instance, in climbing class he beat all others to the top of the tree, but used his own method of getting there. He had to be severely disciplined. Finally, because of noncooperation in swimming, he was expelled for insubordination.
The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but was obviously inadequate in other areas. Because of so much makeup work in swimming he had a nervous breakdown and had to drop out of school.
Of course, the turtle was a failure in most every course offered. His shell was considered to be the leading cause of his failures, so it was removed. That did help his running a bit, but sadly he became the first casualty when he was stepped on by a horse.
The faculty was quite disappointed. But all in all it was a good school in humility — there were no real successes. None seemed to measure up to the others. But they did concentrate on their weak points and some progress was made.
Maybe the moral is: do not let anyone take off your shell or clip your wings. Just be yourself.
When you try to be someone else, your spot in life basically becomes empty. For one thing, the person you are trying to be isn’t there. For another, you yourself aren’t really there either. That’s why it’s been said that the best note you can ever play in life is the one called B Yourself.
Joseph was a dreamer while James emphasized that one’s faith must affect the practical matters of life, but God used them both. Esther was a queen while Ruth was a lowly daughter-in-law, but God used them both. Paul was a highly educated theologian while Peter was an unlearned fisherman, but God used them both. Eunice was married while Anna was a widow for 84 years, but God used them both. John the Baptist was bold and fearless while Gideon was naturally cautious, but God used them both.
God knows exactly how you are built and wired, and He never wants you to try to be someone you are not. Just as He has designed indescribable diversity into creation itself, He has done the same thing for the human race. Some people might think of themselves as being akin to ducks while others have more in common with eagles, but God needs both types in His service. Some might be comparable to rabbits while others relate more to turtles, but God has roles that each type can play effectively. All you have to do is be yourself and let Him use you the way He wants to use you in His great cause.