Something that continues to pop up everywhere around me is the idea that I can only be good at being me. Let me explain a little more.
I’ve heard it recently said like this: You are the best version of you there is.
It sounds simple, but it is so hard. Think back through your life and you begin to realize that you have tried to be someone else at all different points. I mean, nothing gets worse than middle school and high school –
For me, I wanted to be a surfer (although I had never surfed) and started to dress that way. I wore a lot of hemp and shells, dressed in all Hollister and worked hard at looking like a surfer. I also had a really brief time period that I wanted to be a little more Goth. I decided to wear all black. It was funny, because I had hardly anything black in my closet and it was really hard to dress in dark colors when you have none. I think the Goth thing lasted all of one day in the 7th grade.
I went through a lot of phases; I tried to be sporty and then artsy, dressed preppy and slouchy, listened to rap and then country. I have been all over the map, and I bet you have too.
It takes us so long to be okay with who we are and for many of us it is a life-long journey. But over the past year, this has been a theme that has popped up in my face over and over and has had me really thinking about who am I verses who am I trying to be. It’s so important for us to realize that God made us wired a certain way. We are interested in certain things, crazy with certain passions, and gifted with certain skills. As leaders we have to find this and get really comfortable in who we are.
One conversation about this has really stood out in my mind for the past year. It was a conversation I will not forget.
Last fall, I had the privilege of heading out to San Antonio to meet with a man by the name of Howard E. Butt. Mr. Butt is the President of the H. E. Butt Foundation and vice chairman of the H. E. Butt Grocery Company (HEB). HEB Grocery is the 12th largest private company in America with over 15 billion in annual sales. Howard’s brother Charles runs the grocery business and Howard fulfills his calling in the H. E. Butt Foundation and the Foundation for Laity Renewal. We were invited into Mr. Butt’s home for tea and dessert while we talked about what we were doing through our foundation and him likewise. It was a remarkable day and I learned so much from he and his wife.
He recounted a lot of his life in ministry and talked a little bit about his dear friendship with Billy Graham. Back in the 1950’s Howard traveled extensively with Billy Graham preaching and helping with the crusades all over the world. Howard would speak with Mr. Graham at events and eventually started the Layman’s Leadership Institutes with him.
Billy Graham and Howard were great friends, but had differences in some of their personal callings for ministry. Where Billy Graham was passionate about preaching and evangelism, Mr. Butt was passionate about layman’s ministry and equipping people to fulfill their ministry in the marketplace. Because of this, they would disagree at times and Billy Graham would want Mr. Butt to do different things that were not bad, but just not Mr. Butt’s calling.
One-day during a discussion between Mr. Graham and Mr. Butt, Billy’s wife Ruth said something to Billy that was so profound. When Mr. Butt told me this I wrote it down and personally vowed to never forget it. Ruth said the following:
“Billy, let him be the first Howard Butt and stop trying to make him the second Billy Graham.”
Let that set it for a minute.
This is a huge statement, but important for us to learn from. You need to be the first you. I need to be the first me. We tend to chase around the ideas of everyone else and spend hours, weeks, years, and lifetimes trying to emulate others. But don’t miss it – God has given you passions, skills, talents, and personality traits that he has given no one else! You have to be the best you and I have to be the best me.
As a young leader, it is easy for you and I to get trapped up in being someone we are not or trying to be exactly like someone we admire. Stop! (I am telling myself as much as I am telling you). Let’s take the challenge that Ruth set for Billy and Howard; to get comfortable in our own shoes and be the best you that you can be.
Discover who you are and get good at being you.
What can you do to discover who you are and get good at it?