Originality - Discipleship 163
The default setting for humanity seems to be comparison. We love to measure ourselves against others in order to see where we might actually fit. We compare salaries, talents, skills, gifts and even opinions.
What has me fired up today is the tendency we have as Christians to compare ourselves to each other. In particular, we seem to get great pleasure out of comparing one church to another church in order to determine how we might be "better" than the other. As a leader in the church, I confess that I have fallen into this mindset. I've definitely compared the programatic elements of my church against others, looking to find places where my program may be superior or borrow ideas that I can replicate into my ministry context. And I hate to say it...but I'm not alone in this type of comparative conditioning.
I'm reminded of a portion of the story of the nation of Israel from the Old Testament. The nation of Israel did not have a physical king. Instead, God Himself said He would be willing to serve as their king. During the creation of Israel as a state in biblical times, the people of Israel cried out to God asking for a physical king to rule over them instead of God as spiritual king. The reason why they asked for this was because they compared themselves to all the other nations around them and saw something these nations had that they wanted...a physical king. Because God is a loving God that does not force Himself upon us, He honoured the request of His people. This desire for a physical king led the entire nation to forego their God-given destiny to a certain degree. Instead of being a biblical model for others to aspire to, the nation of Israel became a biblical example what not to do.
I wonder sometimes if we as the church play this role out in modern day society. With our desire to be better than or just like some sort of pseudo definition of success, do we end up simply being an example to our world of what not to be instead of being something to aspire towards?
What if we actually embraced the desire to be original, creative and obedient to God's leading? Would our desire to embrace originality help us to combat the tendency to compare ourselves to others while trying to mimic or recreate their perceived success?
As a dad, I don't want to be like any other dad. I want to be an original dad. My kids deserve someone that is unique and original. Originality doesn't mean there will not be some resemblance to something else, but it does mean that the primary quality of something is unique and unlike anything that has ever been before. As a pastor, I don't want to be like anybody else. I want to be original; motivated by God's design and desire for my life and my willingness to be obedient to it.
How might life be different if we had a little more originality and a little less mass conformity or copy-cat tendencies? What do you think?