Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV)
One year ago to the day—during my customary early morning walk—I had a conversation with the Lord concerning . . . me. I found myself wishing I was, in some ways, different than I am.
For those who don’t know me, I care about details—sometimes too much. I like straight lines, symmetry, and predictable outcomes, which means I’m not fond of surprises. If you looked up the word adventure in the dictionary, you would not see my face.
I have a keen sense for recognizing how certain things could be improved, which makes me prone to frustration when I see something I think could be done better, but I lack a seat at the table to voice my opinion. This is compounded by my conflict-averse disposition, which makes it difficult for me to offer an unsolicited perspective. I am more compliant than I am defiant, which means I often go along to get along.
I am a leader, but I’m also somewhat of an introvert, which means I’m not always comfortable leading. Oh, and if that’s not enough, I am no stranger to self-doubt when initially faced with certain challenges.
While pondering these things and wishing I cared less about details and were more of an adventurous, strategic and decisive, big-picture thinker, I suddenly realized that I was accusing God of having made a mistake in my design.
Jeremiah similarly accused God of making a mistake in appointing him a prophet to the nations:
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go. . . .”
Jeremiah 1:6-8 (ESV)
While voicing my repentance to the Lord, I was inspired to make a resolution. It was, after all, only fourteen days into the New Year, so it seemed appropriate. I took out my phone, opened the Notes app, and recorded this resolution and prayer:
Today is January 14, 2016. I resolve today that I will no longer wish that God had made me different. Instead, I’m going to celebrate who I am, and I am going to seek to understand how to fulfill His plan and purpose with the gifts, grace, and abilities He has given me.
I will no longer accuse God of doing a poor job in determining what my personality type and strengths should be. I will no longer wish that I was more like this person or that person, but I will rejoice in who I am, believing that God knew exactly what He was doing when He knit me together in my mother’s womb. God made a good thing when He made me, and He made no mistake in my design.
Lord, help me celebrate who I am. Help me rejoice in who You made me to be. Give me the grace to accept my personality type and quirks—even my weaknesses. Help me never to envy the leadership qualities I see in others that seem to be absent in me. Instead, help me recognize the leadership qualities You placed in me, and help me use and develop them to accomplish whatever You have purposed for me to do.
Two days later, my resolution was confirmed to be spot on by the following excerpt from an Oswald Chambers devotional concerning the call of God:
My Utmost For His Highest, January 16, 2016
The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God.
Since God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), I think it is reasonable to infer from Jeremiah chapter 1 that God consecrates and appoints us all to something before we are even born. One could naturally expect that God would fashion us with a personality type that suits this appointment. However, there are numerous examples in Scripture (Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, to name a few) that support Chambers’ claim that, “The call of God is not a reflection of my nature,” and that my “temperament [is] of no consideration.” God sometimes calls us to serve in situations that press us beyond our own strength (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) so that He is glorified by our reliance on Him.
During the period of Jeremiah’s prophesies (circa 626-586 BC), God was so displeased with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah that He promised to punish them. While chiding them for their evil deeds, He posed a rhetorical question to Jeremiah concerning their chances of turning from evil to good:
Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?
Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV)
Alas, Israel and Judah were no more likely to do good than was the Ethiopian to change his skin or a leopard to change its spots. Like the Ethiopian and the leopard, I can neither change my skin nor my spots—my personality, my idiosyncrasies, etc.—those things that make me, well, me. So rather than wish I was someone different, I will rejoice in who I am. I will not only accept God’s design for me, I will thank Him for His wisdom in making me the person I am.
King David rejoiced that he had been fearfully and wonderfully made, and he praised God, saying, “Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14 ESV). Dear friend, you are the work of God—a wonderful work. You also should know this very well.
Famed actress, Gwyneth Paltrow, was quoted in the USA Today on December 30, 2016 as saying, “When I turned 40, I felt like . . . ‘Oh, this is fantastic: I don’t care! I like myself, and I’m just going to live my life. I’m going to stop worrying and tearing myself down.’”
Check out that last sentence again: “I’m going to stop worrying and tearing myself down.”
Before this year grows any older, make a decision to stop tearing yourself down and instead embrace your spots. It’s time to celebrate who you are and let God’s grace operate through the person He created you to be.