If you haven’t heard, two weeks ago I handed off the leadership of the college ministry that I’ve led for the last ten years to the guy in this picture.
Honestly, Preston was the last guy I thought I would hand off this ministry to. When I first met him, he didn’t fit the bill for what I thought was needed to lead people. But lately I’ve discovered how wrong I was.
Let me explain.
For years, I thought to lead people you had to be like other people. In other words, you had to be like the men and women who are known and respected for the impact they make. And while I am not saying don’t learn from great leaders, I am saying you don’t need to be like them to impact other people. You need to be you.
Sadly, for years I missed this.
So I would consistently say things like:
“He needs to lead more like Bill Hybels”
“She needs to writes more like Donald Miller.”
“He needs to preach a bit more like John Piper.”
“She’d be great if she were a bit more like so and so.”
And on and on it went.
But here is the problem: There is only one John Piper. There is only one Bill Hybels. And while I wish it wasn’t so, there is only one Donald Miller.
And here’s the cool thing: They are all unique creations of God.
And here’s the thing we must remember: They don’t need another version to come along and compete with them.
In other words, people are not products that get replaced with newer and better models. They are unique voices that God uses in his symphony. They are one of a kind creations that give us a breathtaking view into God’s infinite creativity.
So here is something I am starting to believe and live out with my words. We need you to be you. There is a power in your story. You can have an huge impact as you. Your gifts are valuable in building the kingdom. You won’t be the next so and so. And honestly that’s fine. We don’t need you to be like so and so. We need you to be you.
So please don’t live your life trying to be somebody else. And please don’t listen to people who think that you need to be more like somebody else to have an impact.
My word, I am super glad Preston ignored me when I told him I wasn’t sure he could lead. It’s embarrassing to admit, but when he first talked to me about impacting college students with Jesus’ love, I actually told him that someday he’d make a great assistant to a great leader. Looking back now, I can see how wrong I was.
Preston didn’t need to be like me or any one else to make an impact. He needed to make the impact God had created and called him to make.
So here’s what I’ve learned from Preston, a young man who is very different than me, but equally called and qualified: I need to let people be unique, handmade, one of a kind creations of a good, wise, loving, creative and deeply personal God. And I need to believe that each person can make a huge impact as they are, not as I think they should be.
So Preston, thanks for teaching me and best to you as you lead!