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Only You Can Be You
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
Instead of trying to reshape yourself to be like someone else, you should celebrate the shape God has given you. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven(r) Church
You are a masterpiece.
During my freshman year of college, I took an art class-not because it was my major, but purely for the fun of it. (Well, to be honest, I took the class because of a cute girl who also had signed up for it!) One of our assignments was to study works on display at area art museums and galleries. So one day a classmate and I drove to an art show.
The director of the gallery was an interesting woman with a genuine enthusiasm for her job. When she introduced us to a local artist, I was struck by the deep passion he had for his work. He had complete confidence in his own ability. He spoke highly of his creations, pointing out that each was a custom-made original. I was amazed by his keen attention to detail. To an artist, each piece is unique, formed first within the artist's mind before it is actually produced. The artist thoroughly explores every inch of the creation before he calls it complete.
There is another Artist-a Grand Master-whose attention to detail and whose interest in his creation far outweigh that of any artist you will ever meet in a gallery. The Scripture says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:14-16, NLT).
The Bible says you are the special creation of God Almighty, made in his own image so your life could make a significant difference for his kingdom. The God of the entire universe began making a masterpiece of you even as you were taking shape in your mother's womb. God himself is the one who breathed life into you.
God doesn't create anything without value. He is the ultimate craftsman. And he designed you specifically to fulfill a unique role in his ultimate plan to establish his kingdom on earth. Even though each of us has made mistakes that make it more difficult for him to perfect, we still are a special work of the Creator's hands. He even takes time to know about our day-to-day lives. In fact, he is smiling right now, rejoicing as you seek to discover the masterpiece you are to him.
The Bible says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).
This verse helps us understand that if we want to discover our mission or purpose in life, we first need to look at the masterpiece God has made us to be. While self-help books tell you to look within, I'm saying the key to living the life you were meant to live is to look to God and ask him to help you discover your uniqueness. Once you discover who you are, then you can start figuring out what God has planned for you, the specific way he designed you to make a difference in the world for him.
Another translation of Ephesians 2:10 uses the word workmanship to describe our uniqueness. It's from the Greek word poiema, which literally means "work of art," and is the root of our English word poem. You are a work of God-and nothing but the highest and best comes from his hand. Like the artist who takes scrap metal and turns it into an amazing sculpture, God takes our lives and fashions them into a masterpiece.
One of a Kind
You are not only a masterpiece shaped by God's own loving hands, but you are a unique work of divine art. Like an original painting or sculpture, you are a one of a kind. There is no one else like you, which is why your heavenly Father longs for you to discover just how special and unique you are. As Rick Warren says in The Purpose Driven(r) Life, "Only you can be you. God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. No one has the exact same mix of factors that make you unique."
Perhaps that was one reason you picked up this book. You long to discover how special and unique you are. You're excited by the thought that God is creating a masterpiece of you, but you just don't see it in the reality of your life.
I want you to know, you are not alone in those feelings. As a pastor, I have worked with so many people who share the same longing. I have discovered that people truly want to be who God made them to be-and genuinely desire to do the work he is calling them to do. Most simply don't have the tools to get there.
The book you hold in your hand is designed to take you through a proven process, guided by the Holy Spirit, to discover who God created you uniquely to be-so you can start finding and fulfilling God's specific purpose for your life.
Our family has a Christmas tradition in which all the kids get to pick a favorite book for me to read to them. After I read what they have chosen, I read my choice-Max Lucado's engaging children's book, You Are Special. I love this book for many reasons, but especially because it reminds my children that they are unique in God's eyes.
Lucado tells the story of the Wemmicks, a community of painted wooden people. The conditions of their paint vary widely-from shiny and new to chipped and peeling. Each day, stickers are distributed in Wemmicksville. Some Wemmicks receive gold stars, while others are given gray dots.
One day, Punchinello, the main character, realizes that it's the pretty, shiny Wemmicks who get the stars, while those with tired, chipped paint receive the nondescript gray dots. He notices his own dots are all gray and concludes he must not be worth much, as Wemmicks go.
Then Punchinello meets Lucia, who wears neither stars nor dots. When she explains that the labels just never stick to her, Punchinello decides he wants to be "free" of stickers too. Lucia takes Punchinello to meet Eli, the creator of all Wemmicks, and Punchinello is amazed to learn that Eli loves him just the way he made him. Eli explains that the stickers only stick to those who allow them to remain stuck.
You Are Special is ripe with the meaning of unconditional love. Although intended for children, I'm encouraged by it myself. I appreciate how Eli, the loving woodcarver, took time to help Punchinello see just how special he was, regardless of what others thought or said about him. Like Punchinello, we all need to take time to visit with our Creator. How else can he demonstrate to us how we stand apart from all his other works of art?
God wants you to truly understand and accept who he has made you to be. He longs for you to experience the release that comes with simply living as the person he created you to be.
When it comes to being unique, I love how my mentor Tom Paterson describes it:
The fascinating thing to me is that literally everything God makes is unique-every human, animal, flower, tree, and every blade of grass. He didn't clone anything. Even identical twins possess their own individual uniqueness. That ought to tell us that our individuality is a sacred trust-and what we do with it is our gift to God. Our best contribution in life-our "utmost for his highest"-can only be made as we allow God to finish his work in progress and perfect our uniqueness. To live without discovering our uniqueness is to not really live. I think God is heartbroken when his children miss out on the potential he has placed inside of them.
Or consider what Max Lucado says about uniqueness in his book, Cure for the Common Life:
Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa, Beethoven created one Fifth Symphony, and God made one version of you. You're it! You're the only you there is. And if we don't get you, we don't get you. You're the only shot we have at you. You can do something no one else can do in a fashion no one else can do it. You are more than a coincidence of chromosomes and heredity, more than just an assemblage of somebody else's lineage. You are uniquely made....
But can you be anything you want to be? If you are uniquely made-now stop and think about this-if you're uniquely made, can you really be anything you want to be? If you don't have the sense that takes care of numbers, can you be an accountant? If you don't have a love for the dirt, can you be a farmer? If you don't have an appreciation and a devotion to kids, can you really be a teacher? Well, you can be an unhappy one, an unsatisfied one. You can be one of the 87 percent of the workforce that doesn't like their work-one of the 80 percent of the people that says "I don't use my talents on a daily basis." You can be a statistic.
Lucado ends his comments with these powerful words: "Can you be anything you want to be? I don't think so. But can you be everything God wants you to be? I do think so. And you do become that by discovering your uniqueness."
Friend, I hope your heart beats with anticipation and excitement knowing that God is going to start revealing your uniqueness to you as the pages ahead unfold.
Your Unique Purpose
God created you as a unique masterpiece because he has a specific purpose for your life-a specific and unique "contribution" that only you can make.
What does that mean? Your contribution is the unique ser vice God created you to make, a ministry only you can perform. It is the specific mission God has given you to fulfill for him on earth. It is what I like to call your unique Kingdom Purpose.
I define Kingdom Purpose as ... your specific contribution to the body of Christ, within your generation, that causes you to totally depend on God and authentically display his love toward others-all through the expression of your unique S.H.A.P.E. The Bible says, "Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits" (1 Corinthians 12:7, MSG).
Your Kingdom Purpose is way more than a career. It is a special commissioning from God to make a significant difference on this earth. It's the banner of your life that you carry and wave for God's glory. Now don't get me wrong, your career could provide you the platform to direct your Kingdom Purpose, but it doesn't define it.
I have discovered that most people, myself included, tend to define their purpose in life by one of three things ... trends, what others tell them, or by truth. When we let trends guide our life, we simply are living to fit into the current styles of the world. When we let others tell us what we should be doing, we are living to please them and win their approval. However, when we let God's truth define our Kingdom Purpose, submitting to his authority and desiring to please only him, we are able to lead a life of lasting significance, fulfillment, and Kingdom impact.
In fact, your Kingdom Purpose is very much a reflection of your faithfulness to God. The Bible defines faith as the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen (see Hebrews 11:1). The more time we spend with God, the more we learn of his goodness and faithfulness-and the stronger our faith in him becomes. We learn from God's Word that it is impossible to please God without faith (see Hebrews 11:6).
That very chapter of Scripture-Hebrews 11-lists many ordinary people who by faith accomplished extraordinary things for God, among them Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. Over the years, I have had the privilege of personally seeing thousands of ordinary people live out their Kingdom Purpose through their confident assurance in God.
One of those people is John Baker-an ordinary man God has used in extraordinary ways. For many years, John battled an addiction to alcohol. It almost cost him his marriage, his family, and his life. Thankfully, John found God through his local church. That turning point led him to write his senior pastor a lengthy letter, outlining the vision for a ministry he believed God was nudging him to start. He also confessed his feelings of inadequacy about taking on such a task. Not long after, the pastor challenged John to go after his dream.
The next year, John launched a new ministry called Celebrate Recovery, a biblical process to help people find freedom from addictions through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. For the next ten years, God used John to deliver hundreds of people from the grip of destructive lifestyles. In 2004, President George W. Bush publicly recognized John for bringing hope to hurting people. Today, Celebrate Recovery is an international ministry helping millions of people overcome painful pasts and harmful addictions through the merciful, powerful love of Jesus.
If you were to meet John Baker, you would see an average guy who took everything God had made him to be-the positive as well as the painful-and chose to use it for God's glory. With God's help and leading, John has made and continues to make a kingdom difference by fulfilling his unique Kingdom Purpose.
God is continually looking for ordinary people such as John who are willing to let him use them to make a difference for his kingdom. From business executives to bus drivers, from teachers to techies, from stay-at-home moms to traveling musicians, from dentists to deli owners, God longs to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways. That includes you!
Will you accept the challenge to find and carry out your Kingdom Purpose? Remember, the Bible says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
With this encouragement, challenge yourself to invest in God's kingdom in a way that will last long after you are gone. Be a contributor, not a consumer. For some people-like John Baker-that means trading in a career for a full-time ministry. For most of us, however, finding and fulfilling our Kingdom Purpose means discovering how God wants us to minister in the paths and relationships of the daily lives he has given us. For all of us, it means determining that we will let God use us to impact eternity and leave a heavenly legacy on earth.
Your Special S.H.A.P.E.
As one of God's custom-designed creations, your potential for significance and excellence is revealed by the S.H.A.P.E. God has given you. The S.H.A.P.E. concept was developed by Rick Warren, who writes, "Whenever God gives us an assignment, he always equips us with what we need to accomplish it. This custom combination of capabilities is called your S.H.A.P.E."
The word S.H.A.P.E. points to five specific characteristics:
Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share his love and serve others.
Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth.
Abilities: The set of talents that God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him.
Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.
When God created animals, he gave each of them a specific area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each animal has a particular role to play based on the way they were shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or shaped, by God to do certain things.
Wise stewardship of your life begins by understanding your shape. You are unique, wonderfully complex, a composite of many different factors. What God made you to be determines what he intends for you to do. Your ministry is determined by your makeup.
If you don't understand your shape, you end up doing things that God never intended or designed you to do. When your gifts don't meet the role you play in life, you feel like a square peg in a round hole. This is frustrating, both to you and to others. Not only does it produce limited results, it is also an enormous waste of your talents, time, and energy.
Excerpted from S.H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees Copyright © 2006 by Erik E. Rees. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword Rick Warren 7
A Message from the Author 11
Uncovering Your S.H.A.P.E.
Chapter 1 Masterpiece 17
Chapter 2 Spiritual Gifts 31
Chapter 3 Heart 53
Chapter 4 Abilities 67
Chapter 5 Personality 81
Chapter 6 Experiences 95
Unlocking Your Life
Chapter 7 Letting Go 115
Chapter 8 Other-Centered 133
Chapter 9 Better Together 145
Unleashing Your S.H.A.P.E. for Life
Chapter 10 Kingdom Purpose 165
Chapter 11 Pass It On 193
Chapter 12 Full Potential 209
Appendix 1 S.H.A.P.E. for Life Profile 221
Appendix 2 S.H.A.P.E. for Life Planner 225
Appendix 3 The Best Gift Ever 229
Appendix 4 A Note to Pastors and Church Leaders 231
Appendix 5 A Note to Couples 235
Appendix 6 A Note to Parents 237
Appendix 7 Grabbing Hold Together Group Discussion Guide 239
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Posted August 25, 2011
This book will change how you view yourself and what you are called to do. Read it with the idea that you will be transformed by what God is going to do with you when you submit to how He has designed you to be, instead of what you have trained to be or went to school for.
Would be a 5*, but the writer makes several references to online content that requires an access code that only the paper copies have. I'm emailing the publisher to get clarification on this and will update with any information.
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Posted October 24, 2006
This book is the most enlightening and empowering Christian book that I have read in years. I have already purchased many books from Barnes and Noble to give to other individualsWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2006
This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I will be re-reading it. This author has tremendous insight and is very tuned into to helping people become all they were meant to be.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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